2021 Trends That Died Faster Than They Started

Another year is over, blah blah blah and all that "Auld Lang Syne"-y stuff. Looking back on the year's top trends, you're sure to find plenty of fads that killed it at first, then immediately died out. By definition, a fad pretty much has the lifespan of a mayfly, and they're getting shorter all the time. As one NPR headline put it, "The End Of Trends: If It's Hot, It's Over." The accompanying article was published in 2011, and it seems the trend cycle hasn't gotten any longer in the past decade.

The way we see it is, a trend starts when all the cool kids start doing something, but by the time the rest of us notice, the attention kind of kills the cool factor and it's on to the next new thing. Of course, there are some trends that meet an untimely end due to the fact that they are uncomfortable, silly-looking, or just plain dangerous as others just get so overplayed they fall victim to their own popularity. As the year comes to a close, let's bid a final farewell to the following 2021 trends, some of which you may have already forgotten about.

An ubiquitous commercial killed this viral hit

In June, a country musician who'd never really hit it big, according to Esquire, came up with a catchy little ditty and posted it on TikTok, complete with footage of his kids doing a dance they'd made up to accompany it. The song and dance soon went viral, which was all well and good, but the fact that "Fancy" name-dropped Applebee's led to the chain in question buying the rights to use it. The resulting commercial went into super-heavy rotation, particularly on ESPN, and five minutes later people were heartily sick of the song (via YouTube).

This TikTok challenge resulted in stiff legal penalties

TikTok challenges play off the fact that their intended audience has little fear of mortality or even injury — who else would climb a milk crate mountain or hold their breath until they blacked out? Participants in the "Devious Licks" school vandalism challenge, though, may face consequences they really can't ignore (via CNN). As per Suncoast News Network, SweetwaterNow, and other media sources, many school districts are not only expelling students but filing criminal charges with penalties ranging from steep fines to jail time. When things get real, the fun is definitely over.

A tragedy made #VanLife a lot less aspirational

2021 looked like the year #VanLife would really take off. It was a popular pandemic fantasy, and in April the van-dwelling epic "Nomadland" took home the Best Picture Oscar (via Los Angeles Times). Things took a dark turn in August, though, when popular #VanLife Instagrammer Gabby Petito went missing, and darker still when her body turned up, allegedly murdered by travel partner and fiancé Brian Laundrie. When CNN and Rolling Stone detailed at length the domestic abuse that's sometimes a byproduct of the van-dwelling lifestyle, the romance of the open road lost much of its luster.

Americacore seemed to peak around the 4th of July

In early summer, self-aware TikTokers came up with a fun new parody. Videos tagged with #Americacore and similar hashtags were generally seen to be poking fun of the fetishizing of other cultures, particularly East Asian ones, by applying this same OTT appreciation to life in the good ol' U.S. of A. There was also some giggling at our silly American ways (it's okay to giggle if you're one of the silly Americans), but Americore pretty much peaked over the summer and began a slow fadeout once the point had been made.

Body part tchotchkes didn't really have legs

According to home décor/lifestyle magazine Lonny, two of 2021's most flash-in-the-pan design trends were inspired by the female human body -– buck naked, as it were. One of these pieces was just that, a ceramic butt that was used as a vase. While butt vases were hot hot hot over the first part of the year, they've pretty much, er, bottomed out over the past six months. Nudie torso candles, made popular by body positive Instagrammers, were also on fire as the year began, but those have been sputtering out since April.

Skin-baring knitwear never made much sense

One of 2021's odder clothing phenomena was that of cut-out knitwear. It may have started with the Serita dress by Cult Gaia, which is a halter/sweater dress mashup. This viral fashion sensation inspired numerous knockoffs — tops as well as dresses — all cut to expose large amounts of skin. PureWow speculates that the trend arose by combining 2020's comfortwear trend with 2021's desire to glam things up a bit, but they say it's already dying out. No surprise there, considering this was a garment that overheats half your body while the other half hangs in the breeze!