The red carpet officially reopened for 2021, and the best dressed stars of the year made it worth the wait. Of the most memorable moments, our favorite celebrity fashion trends were surreal gold hardware, colorful ostrich feathers, leather opera gloves, celestial caped sleeves, and extreme cutouts – and we know the best way to style them.
The appeal of surreal gold hardware started at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival with Bella Hadid’s breathtaking branched-lungs gown. The black dress, designed by Daniel Roseberry for surrealist atelier Schiaparelli, featured a fitted, long-sleeved silhouette with subtle leg of mutton sleeves and a completely exposed, open bust. Hadid’s bust was covered by a necklace with a massive pair of branched lungs for the pendant. Zendaya also wowed us at the 2021 Ballon d’Or football awards with an open-back, black gown by Roberto Cavalli that featured a gold, double-headed serpent along her spine. Elle Fanning’s chain-link Balmain gown at the 2021 InStyle Awards also fits in this trend, while being an unexpected new styling direction for the actor.
It’s no secret that we love the fanciful ostrich feather trend on the 2021 red carpets. Kacey Musgraves’s punchy purple Valentino feather headdress at the 2021 MTV VMAs was one of the most memorable looks of that evening. Olivia Rodrigo is embracing much more mature gowns this year, and we love how she balanced the playfulness of her feather-hemmed David Koma gown with its sheer, sexy fabric. And Cynthia Erivo’s lemon Valentino dress with a fuchsia feathered skirt brought vibrancy to the 2021 Venice Film Festival red carpet. To try this trend, pair a feathered dress with silver or diamond jewelry and clear or silver heels.
Gigi Hadid, Rochelle Humes, and Tessa Thompson all wore a classic strapless gown with a full skirt to 2021 award shows, paired with black leather opera gloves and pointed-toe shoes. We’d suggest styling your hair like Hadid and Thompson in an elegant updo to emphasize the contrast between the ’50-inspired ladylike gown and the rebellious black leather gloves.
Alternatively, angelic caped sleeves were a major red carpet trend in 2021. Generally capes got bigger, bolder, and more voluminous this year, but gowns worn by Gemma Chan, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jada Pinkett Smith had a celestial, goddess-like presence that was truly timeless. And while we love the layers of decadent fabric on caped gowns, we equally appreciated that cutouts got even more risqué this year. In part because of a Mugler comeback in the world of celebrity stylists, Megan Fox, Halle Bailey, and Lil Nas X gave a whole new meaning to the plunging neckline.
Keep reading for the five best red carpet fashion trends of 2021.