Somewhere between the optimism of early vaccination rates pre-Delta variant and the disastrous Hurricane Irma, Near Yorkers found moments to break out of our shells in the way we do best. Summer 2021 may have come to a sad and hasty-feeling close, but the style that filled the New York City streets during the hottest days of this long-anticipated summer will last forever. 

After a year of living in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, witnessing tragedy and heartache at our literal front doors, we were ready when the streets changed from the eerie quiet of 2020 to something more resembling our home. Gone were the days of leggings as far as the eye could see, people fell back in love with their wardrobes and got dressed. Still, after the initial excitement of the "return to normal," it became clear by August that normal isn't what we previously imagined. The pandemic is not over, and between the trauma and shifting priorities, we're different, and so is our style. That's what InStyle set out to capture with this gallery: fashion as it exists in our new world, one that isn't quite ready to be fully open but definitely wants to dress like it. 

I don't have to remind you of the days when sales on sweatpants were rising and all we could think about was tie-dye sets – they haven't gone away, they've just evolved. Now, you can see how those same pieces are incorporated into street style. In Soho, dozens of people wore the I-may-see-people-today version of the 2020 WFH fit. For some, that meant incorporating the y2k resurgence into their outfits with a bra and relaxed jeans, and for others that translated to a full tracksuit, accessorized so it made sense for brunch. Other downtown wanderers like Natalie Stevenson (below, at left), said the pandemic gave them a new appreciation for how clothing makes us feel. Her vintage knit vest was her moms and she wore it because after moving to New York from Canada, she was feeling homesick. She incorporated the vest into her playful sense of style, wearing it with a white tennis skirt that she says is one of her favorites. 

Throughout the boroughs (and I would guess around the world) bright bold colors and patterns were the biggest trends. "My post-quarantine wardrobe is totally different, not only because I've changed out of slip dresses and slippers, but because I'm embracing color like never before," said Jessica Andrews (pictured at top) who was wearing a striped Farm Rio maxi dress with a bright orange Telfar bag. "There's something about bright hues, and especially rainbow prints,  that immediately lifts my spirit and makes me feel hopeful about the future, a future where we can get dressed up again and safely gather with the people we love." And why not? Life can take a turn at any moment, wear your clothes loudly. 

Ahead, the beautiful printed dresses, bras as tops and Telfar bags that took over New York City fashion this summer. When brighter days do come, this town will be dressed and ready.

Click for more from The New New, our digital cover exploring all the ways to have more fun with clothes this fall.

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