See all Blog posts

Bringing sexy back. The antidote to loungewear

The Spring 2021 runways were oozing with playfully risqué influences and lending a hand to more sexy fashion. Find out what sexy looks like in 2020.
Bringing sexy back. The antidote to loungewear | EDITED
Rose McGowen 1998, Hailey Bieber 2019, Kim Kardashian West 2020
Alberta Ferretti Spring 2021
Bringing sexy back. The antidote to loungewear | EDITED
Charlotte Knowles Spring 2021
Bringing sexy back. The antidote to loungewear | EDITED
Ermanno Scervino Spring 2021
Bringing sexy back. The antidote to loungewear | EDITED
Y-PROJECT Spring 2021

Mini skirts and dresses

After being casted in the midi’s shadow for many seasons, designers responded to the pandemic, political uncertainty and civil unrest by reviving the mini skirt. This shift draws parallels with the 1960s when the silhouette first rose to popularity as a symbol of youth culture and sexual liberation.

Super short lengths were noted in Y2K-esque satin and embellished party dresses, countering the ever-popular house dress. This shape also lent itself to the abundance of co-ord sets on the Spring 2021 runway. High-waist and A-line mini skirts are a low-risk investment to emulate the sexy dressing trend within your core assortment.

Underwear as outerwear

Perhaps inspired by the new normal blurring all outfits into one, underwear as outerwear swung back into favor on the runway. Exposed bra straps and peek-a-boo cups under dresses and tops were of note at Versace and Dolce & Gabanna. At the same time, cut-out lace bodysuits styled with low-rise mini skirts or trousers presented a juxtaposition between the 00s and today’s trends. Lean on this look as an innovative way to upsell lingerie or push layering.

Open back dresses

Adding a sexy twist on a classic silhouette, Victoria Beckham and Simon Miller showcased open back details on floor-length dresses, while Matthew Williams’ debuted Givenchy’s now-viral thong dress. Although backless shapes serve as a more directional trend, open tie back tops are already popular in retail, so brands shouldn’t be slow to invest in this detail for dresses.


A bolder buy-in than the stalwart Bermuda short, hotpants will be a valuable piece to garner press and viral attention. As seen at Molly Goddard and Dior, retailers targeting a younger consumer should complete the look with a matching top to increase value. With knitted styles at play here, there’s an opportunity to minimize risk and refresh loungewear styles for retailers wanting to test the waters with this trend.


The ubiquitous top shape of Spring 2021, bralettes were used by a broad range of designers to communicate the shift into sexy. Corset and cut-out detailing were of note alongside square and halter necklines, further riffing off Y2K looks. For a more modest take, look to BOSS and merchandise with a blazer as a modern spin on the new workwear era.

To blend with the comfort aesthetic, leverage the co-ords trend by matching ribbed or seamless cropped tops with skirts and joggers. For a younger consumer, look to merchandise with silky shorts for more directional pajama dressing.


Taking inspiration from bondage and The Matrix, leather was unseasonably present in spring collections, adapted as a key fabrication in dresses, skirts and outerwear. Black and chocolate are the obvious hues for investment, while red and metallics serve as more trend-led offers.

Backing from Isabel Marant and Marine Serre adds longevity to the leather styles currently in retailer’s fall assortments, creating an opportunity to carry existing styles that compliment the sexy dressing aesthetic into trans-seasonal ranges instead of discounting.

Sheer fabrics

An overspill of the underwear as outerwear trend, netting, mesh and sheer fabrics lent themselves to the boudoir-inspired looks at Fendi and Vaquera. From see-though wraps to all-over transparency, both extremes were met in Spring 2021, inspiring different levels of coverage.

For more demure options, retailers can look to introducing this element through Victorian blouses or mesh paneling and sleeves. All-over sheer products can also entice add-on purchasing promoted in layering stories.


This trend was resounding with designers from Balmain to Chanel drawing attention to skin through cut-out details. Also noted as a directional trend to infuse a 90s sporting aesthetic to jersey products. Side, waist or hip cut-outs gives an instant coquettish update to party dresses or adds interest to blazers. For a more modest interpretation, look to keyhole details to refresh cardigans and ribbed knits.

Animal print

A pattern synonymous with sexy dressing, animal print carried through Spring 2021 presentations via form-fitting trousers, mini and midi dresses, co-ords and knitwear. Leopard, snakeskin, tiger stripes and zebra were all of note, adding further credibility to 90s & 00s nostalgia trends.

Designers opted for neon and traditional interpretations, both of which work within this overall trend and gives retailers scope to target the classic and the trend-driven consumer.

Decolletage detail

Designers such as Burberry, Khaite and Paco Rabanne emphasized boobs with cut-outs and corsetry, as well as print and fabric placement.


To incorporate accessories, harness belts bubbled up as a micro trend toughening up Victorian looks at Rokh and creating a utility element at Thebe Magugu.

Enjoyed this report? Sign up to our weekly Insider Briefing to get reports like these sent directly to your inbox.