Considering I have a 25-year-old side part and a drawer full of skinny jeans, Gen Z fashion trends are as much a mystery to me as they are to anyone. Although, after a year of social isolation and weeks spent in the same tie-dye sweatsuit, I’d say the uncertainty of fashion’s future is still widespread. For some, that means more time for sweatpants and The Crown. To Gen Z influencers, that means a boundless fashion playground brimming with possibilities, even if those possibilities exist only, for now, on a digital mood board.
Mood-boarding is nothing new, but recently, Pinterest mood boards have seen a renaissance, particularly with young people looking to break the monotony and find an outlet where their outfit ideas can thrive beyond, say, the grocery store. “I found myself slipping into a deep depression during the pandemic and feeling a sense of hopelessness,” 22-year-old fashion influencer Khadija Sillah tells Elite Daily. “Going on Pinterest and organizing mood boards and creating vision boards that showed what I wanted my life to look like gave me something to look forward to.”
Given *gestures vaguely at the outside world,* fashion mood boards are a perfect form of escapism. There’s no risk, no getting it wrong, no item out of reach. You can compile your silly little pictures on your silly little board, however out-there or avant-garde, and no one else has to see it if you don’t want them to. “Pinterest is a safe space. We hear from Pinners all the time that they come to Pinterest to escape the negativity of the internet,” says Swasti Sarna, insights manager at Pinterest. “You can just focus on yourself, not worrying about the demands of social networking. People are just trying to find ideas for their personal style and inspiration for their lives, not to get likes.”
The absence of likes is what makes looking at another person’s board so alluring. It’s a more authentic look at someone’s interests, less performative than their Instagram highlight reel. “Don’t get me wrong, I love scrolling on Vogue for hours looking at show after show, but I find a lot of inspo online from people my age taking a risk,” says TikTok fashion influencer Monique Black. “I was listening to a style analysis video the other day on YouTube, and they talked about how style is experiencing another sort of ‘youthquake,’ where we see young people influencing trends again.”
According to Gen Z influencers, 2021’s impending youthquake is chock-full of all things bold, a little weird, and retro. For an inside look into their sartorial sandbox, Elite Daily tapped nine wildly fashionable Gen Z influencers to curate the ultimate 2021 fashion mood board that might — emphasis on "might" — just make you change out of your four-day-old sweatpants.
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Marissa Ren (@marstruck on TikTok)
“Sage is definitely one of my favorite colors this year, and I feel like it suits everyone. I would wear this oversized sage green Motel Rocks Blazer with matching sage skirt/pants or over a bodycon black dress. I also love the workwear trend (i.e. blazers, power suits, trousers, etc.) as a whole. It gives me such strong city vibes, and there’s something about putting on a suit that makes me feel so empowered and confident — literally dress to impress.”
Moe Black (@moeblackx on TikTok)
“[On my wishlist] is this insane top from Fashion Brand Company. It kind of hurts your eyes to look at, but in the best way. I think the contrasting stripes of the bikini silhouette against the top is so genius, and I love the material! It’s kind of like a cross between a workout top and a comfy tank … It’s super cool, so I’m hunting for some red leather pants to go with it.”
Remi Bader (@remibader on TikTok)
“Since I was in middle school, I have worn blazers and they always give me this feeling of power and confidence. I would own 100 oversized blazers if I could. My go-to [brand] for blazers is Aritzia. They are definitely pricey, but they put their blazers on sale a lot, and this Samuel blazer is probably going to be my next purchase. The quality of their blazers is great and worth it!”
Khadija Sillah (@kingkhadija on Instagram)
“Vela’s scarves are super breezy, soft, and perfect for all kinds of weather. It’s a Muslim-, women-owned brand, and I’m always more than happy to shop with them. I love a chic pantsuit, so I envision myself wearing this scarf with a pantsuit set in the same color for a monochromatic look, along with some Nike Air Forces.”
Julia Wettreich (@styledbyjules on TikTok)
“I never thought the day would come that I’d transform into a ‘girly girl,’ but recently, I’ve been fascinated with sequins. After watching the Pre-Fall 2021 fashion shows, I found that sequined pieces are a top trend this coming Autumn, so now, at the top of my 2021 fashion wishlist sits The Archer Top from Alice & Olivia. If I had access to Jeff Bezos’ credit card, I’d pair this top with Chloé high-waist wide-leg trousers, a pair of Jeffrey Campbell Recess Chain Platform Loafers, a STAUD Sasha hobo bag, and some Bottega Veneta coil hoop earrings.”
Dana Blasi (@danaarose on TikTok)
“My fashion perspective revolves around comfort — not necessarily just that the clothes are a comfortable material, but the importance of feeling good and confident in what you’re wearing. I love this piece because it does exactly that, and I’m able to dress it up or down depending on the day. Because the neutral color allows for more freedom with accessories, I envision myself styling this piece layered with a puffer jacket or oversized flannel and sneakers with lots of gold jewelry, or even dressing it up with a pair of clear heels and a handbag.”
Symphony Clarke (@thethriftguru on TikTok)
"One item on my fashion wishlist I’ve been dying for are these cute Nike Hoop Earrings. I love seeing how creative people can get when it comes to accessories, and using a popular brand like Nike and merging it with a popular trend like hoop earrings is a match made in heaven. I would definitely love pairing these earrings with a nice mock turtleneck, nude puffer jacket, blue denim mom jeans, and white Air Force 1s. Since I am a thrifter and also support sustainable fashion, I try my best to shop with brands that promote the same thing. Multiple sellers on Etsy make these trendy Nike hoop earrings, and they sell for less than $50."
Chloë Dhaliwal (@chloe.dhaliwal on TikTok)
“Ecru flare jeans are at the top of my fashion mood board for 2021. I just adore the look of flares this year — they radiate ‘cool girl’ vibes. Ecru is such a versatile color for every season, so these jeans would look good all year ‘round. I would wear these jeans up with a pair of black Chuck Taylor Lift Hi Converse. I think the combination of the flare and the platform trainer look is very Y2K, which is totally making a return in 2021.”
Amanda Zhao (@amandazzhao on TikTok)
“Currently, one of my favorite up-and-coming trends is mesh tops with eccentric patterns. These tops are perfect for creating more nuance in an outfit and are overall very versatile. I adore this top from Urban Outfitters, which features patchwork to combine different prints. Patterned mesh tops can easily be styled with a pair of complementary jeans or layered with other pieces such as a corset, which have also been gaining popularity. These mesh tops are definitely a staple as they are relatively easy to style but can also act as a great tool for experimenting with different pieces.”
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