September 25, 2022


Youth trendy style

3 Summer 2021 Fashion Trends That Are Easy To Wear

Fashion stylist Cynthia Kelley writes the StyleBlueprint Style File, a new monthly column in which she answers all of your style questions. Here, she shares everything you need to know to be fresh, updated and age-appropriate. Got a question for an upcoming Style File? Email [email protected].


“What can I add to feel on-trend and freshen up my wardrobe this season?” That is the question I’m hearing most from my clients right now. Yes, we are finally getting out and enjoying real dressing again, so it’s time to put the time and energy into buying a few new pieces that feel more current.

Here are three easy and popular trends to add to your closet that will freshen up your look and also last beyond summer 2021. They will work with your own sense of style, body type, coloring and lifestyle. Add them in to look effortlessly put together:

  1. The tiered dress
  2. The statement sleeve
  3. The new flip flop/slide

The Tiered Dress

The tiered dress is the most popular look this season. It is a universally flattering shape that is soft, flowy, comfortable, effortless and versatile.  This type of dress offers an unstructured silhouette with a feminine accent. The dress is available in mini, midi and maxi lengths, and it comes in different types of fabric and in every color and print imaginable — floral is hugely popular!

The tiered dress is flattering on different body types depending on the shape. Some of these dresses are boxy and have no shape. Some have smocked tops while others have a defined waist, and they come both with sleeves and without. And a tiered dress works for both day and night, depending on the fabric and the shoe choice.

Here are a few looks, plus a few tips to apply when choosing a new on-trend tiered dress for the summer.

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Maxi-length dress from LoveShackFancy

The V-neck and fitted waist on this maxi-length tiered dress are very flattering for a more curvy or fuller figure. Image: LoveShackFancy

Smocked Sunday Up dress from KMcCarthy

The smocked top on this SundayUp dress from K. McCarthy works well for more petite or slimmer figures. Image: Cynthia Kelley

Model wearing a green dress from Target

I love a solid color that balances the puffed sleeves, tiers and bow at the waist. Image: Target

White dress from CeliaB

This white, tiered dress is from one of my favorite and most happy brands this season: CeliaB. Image: CeliaB

Cynthia Kelley wearing a pink Trina Turk dress from EverAlice

Here, I’m wearing a shorter, more flowy option. The dress by Trina Turk is from Ever Alice. Image: Cynthia Kelley

Red, white and blue maxi dress from Oliphant

Here’s a summery sleeveless option that’s perfect for the Fourth of July. Image: Oliphant

Blue short-tiered dress from Oliphant

This short, tiered dress is casual and easy to throw on with sandals or sneakers. Image: Oliphant


  • The tiered dress, by nature, is full and flowy with lots of material. Be sure you are wearing the dress, and the dress is not wearing you.
  • Since these dresses have lots of fabric, create balance by opting for more delicate shoes that show your foot. Clunky or heavy shoes will compete with the bulk of the dress fabric.

The Statement Sleeve

I love fun sleeves, and the statement sleeve is the ‘conversation piece’ in the outfit. Plus, the statement sleeve is an easy way to update your everyday clothing. You can find tops with statement sleeves in crisp cotton, cotton knit, linen and dressy silks. We are also seeing big accent sleeves for pre-fall, so this will stay in style.

The puffed sleeve (which gathers and puffs on top of the shoulder) is very popular and works well if you have narrow or average shoulders, giving you a little more volume and accent up top. Alternatively, the puffed sleeve is harder to wear if you have broad shoulders. Fortunately, there are many popular sleeve ‘accents’ this season that go up and down the arm, and not just on top of the shoulder.

Here are a few different ways to wear the statement sleeve and incorporate the look into your wardrobe. One simple white or black tee will make quite a difference in your look, and you will feel very updated!

Cynthia Kelley wearing jeans and breezy cotton Mille blouse

A floral, breezy cotton blouse with fabulous big sleeves, like this one by Mille from Ever Alice, needs a pair of narrow pants or shorts to balance it out. Image: Cynthia Kelley

Casual, everyday top from Cinq a Sept

Here is a casual everyday top with intriguing accent sleeves. Image: Cinq à Sept

Feminine dressy blouse from Alice & Olivia

This dressy blouse is made even more feminine thanks to its beautiful smocked sleeves. Image: Alice & Olivia

Dressy silk blouse from Ann Mashburn

Pictured: An elevated look with a dressy silk blouse. The accent sleeves start on the arm and not on top of the shoulder. This option is good for broad shoulders as well. Image: Ann Mashburn

Poppy-colored casual cotton blouse from Xirena

Pictured: A poppy-colored casual cotton blouse. Image: Xírena

Casual white blouse from NationLTD

The perfect everyday white tee is taken to the next level by a puffed sleeve. Image: Nation LTD


  • If you have a big, puffy sleeve, make sure the top is cut straight or slimmer. Otherwise, it will add volume everywhere.
  • Let the sleeve be the ‘wow,’ and don’t overdo your look with other ruffled fabrics, belts, or shoes. Keep it simple.

The Puffy Slide/Flip Flop

An easy way to freshen up your daily look is with your shoes, and this season, a new look has emerged for the throw-on slide and flip flop. It’s puffy, fun, and, most importantly, comfortable: It’s the puffy slide. In fact, I’ve finally thrown out my old flip-flops and ordered the puffy slide — it was a great styling update for me! Some of the shoe options even mold to your feet like a Tempur-Pedic bed. These shoes are ideal for slipping on to go to the pool, to work out, or to simply run errands, and they work great with shorts and casual dresses alike.

These are happy shoes — fun and a little unexpected. There are many colors available and many price points. Of course, a neutral color will work with everything, but there is something fresh this season about color. Here are some options:

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Metallic-colored slides from ROAM

I picked a similar metallic-colored shoe like this. It molds to your foot and is very comfortable. Image: ROAM

Yellow and black ROAM slides

Here’s another vegan leather option from ROAM in a fun summer color. Image: ROAM

Vicenza puffy flip-flops

Here is the puffy flip-flop! Image: Vicenza

Puffy black leather slides from Proenza Schouler 

The beautiful leather puffy slide is definitely a more elevated shoe than a flip-flop. Image: Proenza Schouler

This casual slide molds to your foot for maximum comfort. Image: Seychelles

Final Styling Thoughts

Update your clothes little by little, and enjoy feeling more on-trend and current. These three options — the tiered dress, the statement sleeve, and the puffy slide — are just a few examples of newer looks. Use them as a guide and enjoy styling yourself for summer!

Got questions? Email Cynthia your style questions at [email protected], and look for answers in an upcoming column!


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