My Approach to Fashion Is "Buy Less and Smarter"—Here's My 2021 Shopping List

Kristen Nichols
·5-min read

When it comes to shopping, I tend to invest in great basics and pieces that I plan on having in my wardrobe for years ahead. In my closet, you’re bound to find items that I can wear on repeat with any number of outfits. It’s an approach to shopping that can be summed up as “buy less and smarter”. Each piece I add to my wardrobe is very intentional and I consider the cost-per-wear of each item when making a new purchase. It’s something that has always been a part of the way I shop. In fact, my first big fashion purchase ever was a nylon Prada messenger bag that I bought in high school and still wear on the regular to this day.

As I think about my 2021 shopping, I have my “buy less but smarter” mindset in place and have narrowed in on some key fashion items for the season ahead. On the top of my list? Basics with a twist—from boxy tees that feel more elevated and polished than your average T-shirt to oversized shoulder bags that are the ultimate stylish spin on a practical carryall.

I also have more trend-forward pieces on my radar that are currently sitting in my shopping cart. Plissé pleats are one of the more elegant (but wearable) trends to pop up in recent memory, so I can’t wait to add a piece to my wardrobe. I’ve also fallen hard for the cutout trend and think it has definite staying power after continuing to be a big trend in the F/W 21 collections. Ahead, the 9 key buys that have landed on this editor's 2021 shopping list.

Plissé pleats are one of the most beautiful trends I've been craving in some time. While my wardrobe is still heavily leaning into loungewear, I think the soft shapes and delicate pleating add a cool, sophisticated element to any look.

Shop the trend:

Pleats Please Issey Miyake High-Neck Technical-Pleated Midi Dress (£395)

Nanushka Idris Twist-Front Metallic Plissé-Crepe Shirt (£425)

Dion Lee Open-Back Plissé-Crepe Halterneck Top (£345)

Sneakers are a bigger part of my wardrobe than ever before, so I've been gravitating to styles that feel more directional than the basic versions I've worn in the past. Specifically, puffy, cloud-like sneakers are topping my list and I have these Yeezy 500 sneakers sitting in my cart right now.

Shop the trend:

Adidas Yeezy Adidas Yeezy Yeezy 500 (£607)

Mango Maxi Sole Sneakers (£30)

Cutouts are one of the biggest trends of the season and have already made their debut on the F/W 21 runways at New York fashion week, so expect them to have major staying power. Designers continue to rethink cutouts in an infinite range of cool ways, so you can find just about any version you're ready to test out.

Shop the trend:

Sir Yves Cutout Cotton-Blend Strapless Midi Dress (£438)

Christopher Esber Cutout Halterneck Swimsuit (£387)

Paige Raundi Black Cut-Out Wool-Blend Jumper (£295)

For a day packed with Zoom meetings, reimagined tees are the piece I always reach for—whether it's a top finished with a boxy silhouette and shoulder pads, or exposed seams and an asymmetrical cut. Easy, statement-making, and comfortable, they're the most foolproof piece to slip into.

Shop the trend:

Frankie Shop Eva Cotton-Jersey Tank (£72)

The Attico Padded-Shoulder Tie-Dye Cotton T-Shirt (£330)

Frankie Shop Eva Cotton-Jersey Tank (£72)

Maxi skirts popped up in The Row's F/W 21 collection and since spotting them there, I'm predicting they're going to be a closet essential. I love the idea of styling them for spring with a cropped cardigan or an oversized button-down shirt.

Shop the trend:

Tove Celeste Cotton and Silk-Blend Jacquard Maxi Skirt (£325)

Jacquemus La Jupe Terraio Hemp-Blend Maxi Skirt (£475)

Raey High-Rise Leather Maxi Skirt (£795)

Admittedly, my heels haven't been getting much wear in the last year. Perhaps that's why I'm suddenly craving a new pair. Always thinking about how much mileage I'll get out of them, I have my eye on versatile styles in neutral colours that could go with just about anything.

Shop the trend:

Manolo Blahnik Callasli Leather Slingback Sandals (£585)

Christian Louboutin Viola 55 Leather Slingback Pumps (£565)

Gucci Zumi Embellished Leather Slingback Sandals (£610)

Designers made one thing clear on the S/S 21 runways: slouchy pants are a must-buy piece. Comfortable and cool, but tailored in all the right places for a hint of polish, I couldn't be more ready to add to my collection of relaxed trousers.

Shop the trend:

Vince Pleated Flannel Wide-Leg Pants (£355)

COS Panel Trousers (£89)

Zara Dad Pants (£50)

When the big bag trend hit a few seasons back, I never tried it out for myself. The bags seemed too big and too cumbersome to carry around. Now, there's a slightly more realistic version I'm seeing with the oversized shoulder bags in the collections of designers including The Row, Staud, and Frenzlauer. The sleek carryalls are just the right size to fit just about anything you could possibly need, without being too giant.

Shop the trend:

The Row Everyday Medium Textured-Leather Shoulder Bag (£2150)

Staud Sasha Large Leather Shoulder Bag (£420)

The Row Everyday Textured-Leather Shoulder Bag (£1930)

I couldn't complete a shopping list without including some denim. Right now, baggy jeans are the only silhouette I want to invest in. Bonus points if they look like they were designed in the '90s.

Shop the trend:

Mango Wide-Leg Darst Jeans (£50)

Magda Butrym Pleated High-Rise Tapered Jeans (£290)

Arket Barrel Leg Jeans (£69)

Next, see our guide to the key trends for spring summer 2021.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

Read More from Who What Wear