2021 Columbus Monthly Spring Fashion

“Athflow” style, sustainability and diversity are important this year.

Jillian Span Hofbauer
Kris Hays is wearing INC International Concepts yellow dress, $119.50; INC International Concepts jean jacket, $99.50; high-top sneakers with yellow stripe and leopard, $69 (all from Macy’s)

This spring, local fashion enthusiasts remind us to seize the day when it comes to freshening our looks. The season of renewal calls for an entire refresh in 2021. 

“In a lot of ways, I think we’re looking for a pick-me-up,” says Columbus College of Art & Design fashion department chair Suzanne Cotton on finding a balance between comfort and style this spring. 

While trends remain casual as social distancing protocols continue and vaccinations become widely available, warmer weather coupled with a desire for change may be just the spark we need to reinvigorate our wardrobes. 

After a period of dormancy, this fashion season invites us to determine our own rules. Are we influenced by street style? Are we interested in sustainable and ethically produced apparel? Do we want to support independent designers and brands that prioritize racial and size inclusivity? Are we shopping for American-made clothing? 

However you choose to approach your personal styling, seek special items that enhance your sense of well-being and offer excitement. “A really beautiful color—even if it’s a sweatshirt—I think it can brighten your mood,” says Cotton. 

This season’s hits include wearable, multipurpose pieces in wide, loose cuts. You might select a pop of color or opt to integrate a garment with unexpected details. 

“Athflow” is a buzzword of the season, coined by Pinterest editors to mean “when athleisure meets elegance.” Consider versatile athflow pieces in oversized silhouettes and lightweight fabrics, including blouses, house dresses, jumpsuits, trousers or drifter pants. All of these choices offer a more polished alternative to sportier athleisure and can be dressed up or down and worn at home or out and about. 

Expressive knitwear, vintage favorites, florals and neon pieces all offer possibilities for interest and color when paired with staples such as denim jackets or cardigans. Colorful bags and sneakers, sparkly tennis shoes, reptile prints and transparent vinyl heels can add instant uplift. 

“Certainly, as we come out of this, people are going to want something—and change—and are going to be looking for getting back out there,” says Cotton regarding post-pandemic opportunities for risk-taking and change in the fashion industry. 

As we give ourselves permission to process the toll of the last year and look ahead to brighter days, one thing is evident—what we wear affects how we feel. Our wardrobes provide welcome opportunities to seek comfort, joy and self-expression. 

In this feature, style-savvy Central Ohioans from various walks of life show us the looks that excite and inspire them this spring. Photographed by Columbus Monthly photographer Tim Johnson in a range of locations—from a mom with her baby comfortable in their home to others scattered around beautiful backdrops at Easton Town Center—we hope these looks will inspire you to follow your own style compass this season. 

Kris Hays

Kris Hays | Stylist, Macy’s 

Whether it’s a personal wardrobe, preparing for an event, or buying beauty or home products, Hays provides in-store or virtual consulting and selling in her role as a stylist. Her goal is to maintain and continually build strong client relationships by providing a seamless customer experience. 

Must-Have Items: “I love a great jacket! A jacket can instantly add polish, style and your own personalization to the most basic jeans or dress. I also love a great handbag or bag in an unexpected color. A great bag is a must-have since you carry it most every day.” 

Wearing: INC International Concepts blue pleather trench coat, $189.50; INC International Concepts floral off-the-shoulder top, $69.50; INC International Concepts wide-leg high-rise crop jean, $69.50; Style & Co silver and light blue necklace, $29.50; espadrille blue suede platform, $110 (all from Macy’s) 

Kayla Chandler

Kayla Chandler | Event Planner 

(Son Jack, 6, daughter Charlie, 5) 

Chandler is an event planner residing in Columbus. When she’s not taking care of her children, she’s passionate about fashion, photography and getting lost in the woods. She has an infatuation with spooky podcasts.  

“Clothing is a profound part of expressing yourself. I don’t think the pandemic has given us a sentence to a life in sweatpants at home, but rather a more thoughtful approach to what we choose to wear when we have the opportunity to leave home.” 

Kayla Chandler's children, Jack (left) and Charlie

Kayla is wearing: vintage white sheer flare sleeve blouse, $33.30 (Etsy); vintage gray trouser pant, $16.50 (Rag-O-Rama); The Dawn Boot in noir leather, $358 (Christy Dawn); true black leather three-piece belt, $42 (Madewell); Eastwood fedora, $110 (Yellow 108). 

Jack is wearing: white linen shirt, $39.50 (Janie and Jack); gray bottoms, $7.99 (Zara); black Dr. Martens combat boots, $65 (DSW); suspenders, $9.66 (Amazon). 

Charlie is wearing: heather gray floppy hat, $9.99 (Target); vintage 1950s big bow gray-white blouse dress, $56.96 (Etsy); vintage Justin boots in black leather, $20.41 (Volunteers of America). 

Daniella Siebert | Style Coach and Owner, Fox & Bloom 

(Son Stratton, 14 months) 

Siebert teaches busy women how to go from overwhelmed and stressed to confidently dressed. She lives in Westerville with her husband, their son and two dogs. 

Must-Have Items: “The two words I hear over and over from my styling clients are comfortable and confident. If becoming a mom while also dressing during a pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that comfort and confidence don’t have to be mutually exclusive. 

Daniella Siebert and her son Stratton

“I love taking the most casual outfit and finding little ways to elevate it, like a regular cotton T-shirt with a fun sleeve detail or layering a long cardigan over a simple tucked-in top.  

“That’s why my go-tos have become a long cardigan and leather sneakers. Throwing some gold jewelry and a long cardigan over pretty much anything can help add a hint of polish—especially on Zoom. And as outfits are leaning so casual, I find myself reaching for a clean white sneaker over and over again. Maybe it’s the monotony of quarantine, but I have found myself looking for ways to switch up my usual style and ditch my comfort zone. Coming out of the pandemic and such a tumultuous year, I do think I’ll take this elevated casual style with me.” 

Daniella is wearing: split-neck puff-sleeve air shirt, $48; way-high jean, $78; court sneaker, $98 (all from Everlane); select jewelry and belt (model’s own). 

Stratton is wearing: Colored Organics hoodie; Little Bipsy jeans; Kate Quinn hat; See Kai Run shoes (model’s own). 

Daniella Siebert and her son Stratton

Joshua Hartley | Health care Communications and Events Planner 

Hartley is a Columbus native who works in event planning, public relations and fundraising and is a health care communications professional with a specialty in infectious diseases such as influenza, Zika virus, Ebola and COVID-19. He has produced and managed 65 weddings and events across Ohio. He spends his free time with his partner, Jeffrey, and dog, Stedman, while advocating for equality and encouraging others to give back to the communities and organizations in which they live, work, worship and volunteer. 

Must-Have Items: “A classic blue Oxford shirt is a staple for any man’s closet. Dressed up or down, no matter the season, this shirt makes you look and feel put together without any effort. 

“A denim jacket is another versatile staple. It’s a perfect go-to year-round.” 

Joshua (left) is wearing: commuter jogger pant, $128 (Rhone); Joe Fresh Oxford button-down shirt, $29 (model’s own); Steve Madden tan nubuck loafer, $89.95 (model’s own); Forever 21 Men button-down denim jacket, $29.99 (model’s own). 

Joshua Hartley (left) and Jeffrey Tice

Jeffrey Tice | Higher Education and Nonprofit Professional 

Tice is a Columbus transplant who relocated to the Buckeye State through the country roads of West Virginia. He is also a higher education and nonprofit professional who is passionate about helping people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities achieve their goal of obtaining a college degree. In his free time, he enjoys traveling (when safe to do so) and spending time with Josh and Stedman. 

Must-Have Items: “A blazer is a staple in any season. The great debate in our house is always to button or not to button; I fall into the ‘not’ argument. 

“I own these T-shirts in multiple colors, and it is something that you can throw on when going to the gym or out for drinks with friends. 

“Chinos are a pre-COVID staple in my wardrobe and will continue to be when I return to the office. You can dress them up for an interview or dress them down for a concert or everyday wear to the office.” 

Jeffrey is wearing: 3.1 Phillip Lim for Target navy blazer, $60 (model’s own); white go-to tee, $28 (Homage); olive green ultimate skinny chino, $49 (Old Navy); Boconi Owens feather-edge non-stitched leather belt, $38 (model’s own); Crosscourt II white sneakers, $90 (Cole Haan); Michael Kors rose gold watch (model’s own). 

Andrea Jimenez Mudafar

Andrea Jimenez Mudafar | Marketing Project Manager, CCAD and Co-Founder, Mööda 

Jimenez Mudafar is a marketing project manager at Columbus College of Art & Design. In 2020, she co-founded Mööda, a marketing and communications agency that offers consulting services for company culture, communication strategy, project management and marketing. Andrea lives in Columbus with her husband, Jeff, and their cat, Sage. 

Must-Have Items: “[Coming out of the pandemic] my style will be comfortable but playful. I’ve gotten rid of anything mildly uncomfortable, but I still want to look nice and have some fun amidst the stress of it all. ... I’m a sucker for backless and long sleeve dresses. I have several dresses of that same shape.” 

Andrea is wearing: tie open-back, self-belted floral print dress, $19 (Shein); Eddie Bauer black Kara cork wedge (model’s own); other accessories (model’s own). 

Neon bright shoes from Macy’s at Easton

Fanciful Footwear 

Boost your look and brighten your mood with playful shoes that will have you excited to get back out there this spring. Fun sandals and neon pumps in bright pink, orange or yellow offer an unexpected touch to your special occasion, while everyday sneakers turn glam with a splash of color and sparkly embellishments. A nude or colorful reptile-print bag, dependent on your other attire, adds interest to any outfit. 

From top down, Betsey Johnson Jasper sandal, $89; INC Kenjay d’Orsay pumps in pink and yellow, $99,50; Betsey Johnson Landyn dress sandal, $89; Bar III ball-chain pumps in citron and orange, $79.50 (all from Macy’s).