As trite as the following statement may sound, it’s no secret that this year has brought about massive changes. Since the start of the pandemic, every facet of our lives has been altered, and the fashion industry was not immune. From large-scale calls-to-action to support Black-owned businesses in the industry to fashion brands pivoting their production lines to help with the pandemic, the industry witnessed a seismic shift in how fashion itself is seen. And that change isn’t just present on a macro scale: On a day-to-day basis, how the world dresses has been radically reimagined. Athleisure has officially been embraced, and people are putting on face masks every day to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and those are just two ways the world’s relationship to style has significantly evolved over just a few months.
Additionally, how we choose to shop and what we decide to buy during this time of unprecedented challenges has come to the forefront of many readers' consciousness. This is why we decided to reach out to 22 real women to share the one piece they bought this year that they feel was worth every penny. In truth, shopping may not be the most urgent thing on our priority lists, but taking the extra step to practice mindful consumption, support small brands, or invest in pieces that bring you joy means more than you think. Without further ado, the best fashion buys of 2020…
WHO: Jeannine Roxas
WHAT: Zara Oversized Black Leather Blazer
A black faux-leather oversize blazer is the one item Jeannie Roxas felt was worth every penny this year. Her rationale: “It’s a piece that can truly elevate a look and will be in your closet to style forever. It's a classic item that everyone should have as an easy go-to.”
Roxas’s advice for styling the blazer? “For a casual look, wear your favorite pair of boyfriend jeans with a white tee. For a dressed-up night, wear your favorite LBD dress and top it with some jewelry and boots!” she says.
WHO: Sarah Kretzu
WHAT: Prada Logo Leather Loafers
The rationale behind buying the Prada loafers this year? Sarah Kretzu says, “I wanted an everyday classic loafer to replace my go-to sneakers, and these are it. These are worth every penny because they elevate every outfit and have the perfect amount of style without being too trendy.”
“They honestly go with anything and everything!” she adds. “I've worn them with every length and style of jeans, tights and dresses, and even sweatpants. They will go—believe me!”
WHO: Dionne Kaliisa
WHAT: ASOS Longline Trench Coat
The best thing Dionne Kaliisa bought this year was her trench coat from ASOS. “You can wear this trench coat for almost any occasion as it can be dressed up or down,” she shares.
Kaliisa continues, “In the evening, you can style this coat with a little black dress and some heels. In the day, I think this trench coat works perfectly with a pair of black trousers and a white shirt. When you want a comfy, relaxed look, you could pair it with a grey tracksuit and some trainers. It is the most versatile piece of clothing, making it worth every penny.”
WHAT: Arket Oversize Black Suit
Madeleine Bugge Karlsen gushes over her suit as one of the best things she bought this year. “This is a suit that is comfortable yet stylish. It's made with wool so that I can wear it all year round; the pieces also work well together or separately,” she explains.
For styling, Bugge Karlsen recommends playing to the versatility of the suit. “You can pair it with anything from a cool tee and sneakers to a turtleneck and boots or a crop top and heels.” However you choose to style it, be sure to buy the matching Oversized Wool Hopsack Blazer.
WHO: Federica Labanca
WHAT: Gucci Crystal Medium Chateau Marmont Jackie O Hobo Yellow
WEAR: Carolina Lemke sunglasses; Cendré Chloë hoops ($65); Vintage top; Brandy Melville sweats; Gucci Crystal Medium Chateau Marmont Jackie O Hobo Yellow ($1025); Nike sneakers
What’s the best thing to buy according to someone who doesn’t purchase many newer pieces but instead prefers vintage? Reader Federica Labanca discloses, “I never tend to buy seasonal pieces—my uniform is Levi’s, a basic top, and an oversize blazer. I love to invest my money in classic statement pieces, so I was elated when I got my hands on Gucci’s Chateau Marmont Jackie O Hobo. It’s sold out everywhere, and the colors and the print scream peak '90s Gucci.”
“I wouldn’t usually go for such a colorful piece, but this has a vintage feeling to it, and it’s nice to have that accessory that makes the outfit sometimes!” she continues. “In this case, I styled it with a super-casual look: track pants, a shirt, and a pair of Nikes. It just elevates the look.”
WHAT: Cow-Print Shoulder Bag
WEAR: Vintage blazer and bag
Whoever said the best pieces to invest in had to be new didn’t know how to shop like Who What Wear reader Safya. “The best thing I bought this year was a baguette bag with a cow print from a thrift shop for only $12,” she reveals. “It’s so fun to wear and will zhuzh up a simple outfit! The shape reminds me of the iconic Fendi baguette.”
As for tips on styling a printed shoulder bag? Safya explains, “You can style it easily as the color is black and white: You can’t go wrong with it.”
WHO: Matilde Mantini
WHAT: H&M Faux-Leather French Coat
If you want to spend those dollars wisely, adhering to the advice of our Rome-based reader Matilde Mantini is a good start. “Faux-leather trench coats are one of the hottest trends for fall/winter, giving us that groovy ‘90s-meets-Matrix vibe. They have become an honorary staple piece,” she emphasizes.
To ensure pulling off a faux-leather trench coat with ease, Mantini encourages you to “go for an all-black look with a black turtleneck, bare legs, your favorite chunky boots, and of course, ‘90s-inspired black sunglasses!”
WHAT: Zara Platform Leather High-Heel Ankle Boots
You know those boots you see once and buy on the spot? For London-based reader Georgia, her platform Zara boots were love at first sight. “This year was seriously boot heavy for me. I’m running out of shoe space—it’s ridiculous,” she states. “Boots are so versatile and easy to dress up or down, so having a few stand-out pieces can give any outfit an edge, and my favorite happens to be a pair of limited-edition Zara platform boots. Honestly, If you don’t own a pair of platforms, you better change that now!”
According to Georgia, platform boots are far easier to style than you think. “They’re so versatile—you can wear them with anything from a dress to suit. You honestly can’t go wrong.”
WHO: Shrutika Gavane
WHAT: H&M Flared Suit Pants
The value of an excellent pair of black trousers is something women around the world can attest to, especially reader Shrutika Gavane. Sharing from Pune, India, she says, “I love how versatile this pair of trousers is and how I can dress them up and down depending on what I want. These fit perfectly at the waist, and I love how they flare gently at the bottom.”
She continues, “They are perfect for any formal look, but you can also wear them for street-style looks. I would recommend styling these trousers with a basic crop tank and a layering piece for a perfect fall outfit.”
WHO: Filipa Simoes
WHAT: Bottega Veneta Jodie Knotted Intrecciato Leather Tote
WEAR: Mango trench coat; Zadig & Voltaire sweater dress; Bottega Veneta Jodie Knotted Intrecciato Leather Tote ($3350); Rekken boots
The one item London-based Who What Wear reader Filipa Simoes swears was worth every penny? “My Bottega Veneta Jodie bag. I wear it every single day. It’s my best friend,” she muses. “It’s such a practical bag as it’s easy to style and has lots of space. Featuring the iconic BV intrecciato design, it leaves me feeling like a supermodel in the ‘90s—a must-have this season.”
As Simoes says, you can style this beauty with just about anything, but her favorite pairing is with “some skinny black jeans, an oversize blazer, and some over-the-knee boots.”
WHO: Meg Sircar
WHAT: Converse Canvas Platform Chuck Taylor All Stars
WEAR: Vintage oversize T-shirt; Converse Canvas Platform Chuck Taylor All Stars ($70)
According to reader Meg Sircar, investing in brands you love is the best way to spend your money. “I decided to purchase these shoes because I had loved the Converse brand for quite a while, and I believe in spending money on timeless brands,” she explains. “I think this purchase was worth every cent because from the second I saw them I never questioned if I should get them. They felt like a part of me from the very beginning.”
As far as styling goes for the sneakers, Sircar prefers pairing them with more feminine pieces. “They're also perfect for my go-to lazy outfit: Converse, wide-leg trousers, and an oversize graphic tee.”
WHO: Samantha Silcott
WHAT: Wild Fable Faux Leather Bomber Jacket
Wondering how many iterations of leather can be on this list? Readers, like Samantha Silcott, believe in their value and longevity. “I love my faux-leather bomber jacket because it's super versatile and perfect for a Florida winter and fall,” she raves. “It is a timeless piece that brings a retro vibe, which I'm down for.”
Silcott’s styling tip? She urges you to layer layer layer! “Pair it with a graphic tee underneath and trousers or high-waisted denim. The options are endless when it comes to what you can wear with a leather jacket, and it can easily match anyone's style.”
WHO: Mimi Orere
WHAT: Jacquemus Le Chiquito Bag
Leave it to stylist and Who What Wear reader Mimi Orere to find both the best thing to buy and the best way to style it this year: sweats. “So many of us lived our lives in some form of comfort wear this year. And to make my trackies look luxe, I wear them like I would wear any other look I want to feel good in; by adding in fun accessories,” she divulges. “This Jacquemus bag helped brighten my daily walks/errands and breathed new life into my comfy clothes.”
Orere’s tip for making the mini bag worth the price? “With every look, I start with one single piece that I want to showcase and then style around that. I like to keep the rest of the outfit understated for the ultimate effortless style,” she confesses.
WHO: Allison Romero
WHAT: Levis’s Faux Leather Ribcage Straight Pants
Yes, another rave review for faux-leather pieces this year—can you blame our readers? Allison Romero gushes, “These Levi faux-leather pants are seriously the best pair of pants I've bought in years! They fit like a dream, the price point is accessible, and they can be styled a zillion different ways. I love that they're fitted but relaxed.”
And if you’re still not on board, consider the styling possibilities. “I love to pair these leather pants with a statement jacket and chunky black boots,” shares Romero.
WHO: Marilyn NK
WEAR: Gucci sunglasses; Zara coat; ASOS pants; Bottega Veneta Embellished Leather-Trimmed Mesh Pumps ($890)
This year, anything from Bottega Veneta seems to be a crowd favorite. “Bottega Veneta by Daniel Lee has personally been the brand of the year for me, and the mesh pumps are just a glimpse of how he has transformed this brand. Although these shoes come with a hefty price tag, they are a statement piece worth having,” attests reader Marilyn NK.
When it comes to styling these stunners, NK emphasizes, “They are such a standout piece. I try not to have anything too loud as all attention needs to be drawn to the heels. A nice overcoat or blazer, plain T-shirt, and simple bottoms would look amazing with this piece.”
WHO: Mercedes Malana
WHAT: Wilfred The Cloud Puff Jacket
Coats are always a great way to spend that hard-earned cash, but if you’re not sure which one will give you the most bang for your buck, then you’ll want to heed the recommendation of reader Mercedes Malana. “Throughout all of 2020, the piece I feel was worth every penny was easily my puffer!” she divulges. “While living in Canada, it’s essential to have a warm coat, so I had to have it when I found this edgy marshmallow of a coat. It’s such a versatile piece that can be dressed up or down.”
How to pull off a puffer with ease? Malana suggests pairing it with “slouchy jeans, a black toque, and dad shoes for a comfy, cool-girl look!”
WHO: Emily Aaron
WHAT: Agolde’s Criss Cross Upsized Jeans
Jeans are always a great investment, and according to Chicago-based reader Emily Aaron, Agolde’s Criss-Cross Upsized Jeans are worth the splurge. “They are my version of the perfect pair of jeans: tighter-fitting at the waist and thigh and looser fitting below the knee,” she tells us.
“Jeans are closet essentials!” she proclaims. “They can be dressed down with a T-shirt and sneakers or dressed up with a leather blazer, cute top, and platforms.”
WHO: Ambika Dhir
WHAT: With Jéan Andy Dress
You know those pieces that are hyped all over social media? Some of them are worth buying into, or at least that’s the case with Ambika Dhir’s best purchase of the year. “Usually I reserve big spends for well-known brands, but as soon as I saw this dress, I knew it was something I needed in my wardrobe,” she confesses. “With Jéan is currently on their fourth restock of this dress—it’s not hard to see why! It’s the perfect green, and it's sharp shoulders and ruched waistline mean that it’s a dress that looks flattering on every body type. I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve never felt so confident and comfortable in a dress than I have in this one.”
Styling is the key to making this dress your very own. Still, if you’re not sure where to start, Dhir recommends pairing the dress with heeled knee-high boots, preferably patterned ones. “It would also look amazing with platform boots and an oversize leather blazer for a grungier look!”
WHO: Naomi Parris
WHAT: Telfar Small Pool Blue Shopping Bag
Unless you avoided the internet all summer, at some point you may have been acutely aware of the rise of one of the year’s biggest It bags: Telfar’s Shopping Bag. And the hype is backed up by Who What Wear reader and blogger Naomi Parris. “I love wearing any one of my Telfar bags. I’ve known about them for two years now, but the call to start buying Black made me reevaluate where I was shopping and learn to appreciate my people’s talent. This is the only (Brooklyn) Birkin you’ll see me with on the daily,” she preaches.
“My number one tip for styling the Telfar is to be daring. Because the bag can be so simple yet stand alone on its own, you want to create a look that isn’t too boring,” she continues. “These bags are the perfect touch for any look, dressed up or down, so don’t be afraid to get creative.”
WHO: Div Ravindran
WHAT: Ganni Rubber-Trimmed Leather Chelsea Knee Boots
WEAR: Missoma earrings and necklace; Zara dress and Limited Edition Wool Blend Coat ($199); Bottega Veneta Cassette Padded Intrecciato Leather Shoulder Bag ($2800); Ganni Rubber-Trimmed Leather Chelsea Knee Boots ($545)
Chelsea boots have been dubbed one of the season’s most popular, and clearly, editors aren’t the only fans. Reader Div Ravindran confides, “I had my eyes on these Ganni knee-high Chelsea boots for a while and had to pick them up when they came back in stock. I am obsessed with the neon detailing on them, which makes the shoe so interesting to me, and it also adds a little interest to an outfit. They’re incredibly comfortable and worth every penny, in my opinion!”
As far as styling, Ravindran avows, “These boots work with any outfit! I’ve loved styling them with blazers, shorts, and minidresses, leading up to winter; however, with the colder season ahead of us, I cannot wait to style them with leggings, chunky socks, and long oversize coats.”
WHO: Monica San Luis
WHAT: Vehla Dixie Sunglasses
WEAR: Vehla Dixie sunglasses ($180); Madewell Medium Hoop Earrings ($18); Aureum Collective Chloe necklace ($80); Danielle Bernstein Patent Faux-Leather Moto Jacket ($90) and Patent Faux-Leather Pants ($60)
Any woman can attest to the power of finding the perfect pair of sunglasses, and for Monica San Luis, those just so happen to be from Vehla eyewear. “These sunnies add the perfect edgy and cool-girl vibe to any outfit! They are worth the hype,” she quips.
Of course, these sunglasses can be paired with just about anything, but San Luis recommends styling them with simple outfits as a statement piece that really pops. “They look amazing with neutral pieces or with any outfit with a warm color story. But you really can't go wrong with any outfit! These are a style hack for sure.”
WHO: Aniyah Morinia
WHAT: Nike’s Palazzo Sweatpants
We don’t have to reiterate how this year has changed everything (including what we think is worth buying). For reader and social media expert Aniyah Morinia that statement rings especially true. “I'm not typically a sweatpants and sweatshirt kind of girl, but once we started quarantine back in March, I fell into the trap of buying all things athleisure,” she admits. “Just when I thought it couldn't get any cozier than a pair of joggers or leggings, I found these palazzo-style sweatpants that took my collection to the next level. I find myself gravitating to this pair more than the others in my closet because of the wide leg and pleated panels that give an elevated appearance all while giving me maximum comfort and warmth.”
Don’t worry: You don’t have to give up on fashion just yet. Take a cue from Morinia and remember that the styling opportunities are truly endless. “I love the idea of sticking to neutrals and playing up the tan color with white, black, and other nudes,” she suggests. A sleek bodysuit or crop top paired with a long-line coat is the ultimate nighttime outfit while a matching sweatshirt or hoodie works perfectly for lounging around at home.”