Wardrobe Essentials

Ooo, 2020! It’s a shiny new decade, still unsullied by questionable fashion choices like some of the ones we made in the previous decade. (American Apparel disco pants, we’re looking at you.) That’s not to say that 2020 won’t be marred by its own awkwardness, but at the moment the slate is clean and ripe for sartorial experimentation. Which begs the question: where to begin? 

Because we’re on the Shopping team and wardrobe decisions are life, the purchases that we make on the brink of this new decade carry a little more weight than they might for the layperson shopper. So naturally, we assembled a panel of experts to help us compile a thoughtful list of the wardrobe essentials of 2020. Think of these as conversation starters rather than a do-or-die checklist of things you need.

We consulted a variety of trusted resources; everything from hard data via the trend-forecasting scientists at WGSN to color expert Jane Boddy to the gatekeepers of what’s actually going to be in stores this upcoming year — Nordstrom’s senior fashion director Shannon Schaefer and Net-a-Porter global buying director Elizabeth von der Goltz.

And naturally, we turned around in our swivel chairs to consult the folks we really trust — our very own fashion team. So what the heck are we buying in 2020? Click through to see our shopping list, and more importantly, the rationale behind each choice. Happy browsing.

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We’ve been calling it for months now, and the results are finally in: the trench coat is poised to once again reign (rain?) supreme in 2020. Global trend forecasting agency WGSN reports that there were twice as many of the throwback military outerwear on the 2020 runways than the previous year. “The trench is a staple this year and beyond,” says Nordstrom’s Senior Fashion Director Shannon Schaefer. “It elevates every outfit.”


Reformation Holland cotton-blend twill trench coat, $, available at Net-A-Porter

Universal Standard Tirsa Trench Coat, $, available at Universal Standard

Leith Faux Patent Leather Trench Coat, $, available at Nordstrom

For this winter and spring, I love the look of short culottes (or long shorts, depending on your perspective) paired with knee-high boots,” says Refinery29 Director of Fashion and Culture Gabrielle Korn. “There’s something very chic about looking like you’re ready to jump on a horse at any moment, plus it’s a perfect way to make cropped wide-leg pants appropriate for cold weather.”


Mango Pleated bermuda shorts, $, available at Mango

Massimo Dutti Check Wool Culottes, $, available at Massimo Dutti

Simply Be Tailored Culottes, $, available at ASOS

We weren’t surprised when Gabrielle told us that “shoulder pads will really return in full swing this year.” (If you haven’t read her paean to a certain padded muscle tank, get caught up now.) “Exaggerating the shape of your shoulder is such a fun way to play with proportion, and it’s very flattering. It instantly makes an outfit look more pulled-together.”

PAIGE Sevilla Thong Bodysuit, $, available at Shopbop

Reformation Belfort Top, $, available at Reformation

Nanushka Pink Lais Draped Dress, $, available at SSENSE

The Guardian just published a must-read interview with Danish trend forecaster Li Edelkoort, who, among many other gems, assured readers that the voluminous, mega-sleeve “romantic” dress isn’t going anywhere in 2020, calling the silhouette “beguiling.” A report shared with us by global trend forecasting agency WGSN backs this up, reporting that while the momentum of the puff-sleeve poplin top may have stalled, the trend “has continued [its] steady rise across dresses,” and that “trapeze [styles] will continue as a volume trend driver.” (This won’t surprise anyone who noticed the preponderance of shoulder volume at this year’s Golden Globes.)

Topshop Green Check Taffeta Maxi Dress, $, available at Topshop

Click HERE to read more from Refinery29

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