The Most Unexpected Instagram Trends Of 2018

...And how to wear them.

Is it just me, or did you also think that by the year 2018 we’d be wearing space getups reminiscent of The Fifth Element and The Matrix, and wooting around the sky in flying cars? We may have officially arrived in the future, but if a quick scan around the office (and a scroll on Instagram) is anything to go by, ~the future~ is looking an awful lot like my family photo albums from the late 80s and early 90s.

Whoever said “don’t look back” seemingly didn’t liaise with the fashion gods, because all we seem to do is look in the rearview mirror when it comes to trends. Which, FYI, is totally okay with me. One of my favourite mantras to live by is, “in order to move forward, you have to look back”. In life, I look back on past mistakes to avoid making them again, in business, I look back on past work to see how I can improve, and in fashion, I look back on my favourite style icons of the past to lift myself out of a style rut (more on that here).

Basically, fashion is like one giant revolving door. Just look to the recent 90s redux feat. mum jeans, sneakers, spaghetti straps, teeny tiny sunglasses and overalls as irrefutable proof. Although, it seems that we’re not satisfied with simply glancing over our shoulder. We’re now dipping even further back into the archives for inspo (think Princess Diana meets Grace Jones). 

So what’s up next? A whole lotta fun outfits, is what. For specifics, scroll on down!

Image: @maria_bernad


This year minimalism was most definitely out, and maximalism came back with a sparkly vengeance. To ease into this brave *new* world, book yourself in for a manicure and use a disco ball as a reference (i.e. ask for glitter nails). Or, if you’re ready to take the glittery bull by the horns and fully lean into the trend, slide on into a shimmery slip top á la dream girl Devon Lee Carlson.

Shop the look: If your budget doesn’t account for things like Miu Miu boots, then maybe this Cult Gaia bag can fill the glitter-shaped hole in your heart? Or, let your face be the one to wear the trend, either with these extra Le Specs frames, or more subtly, this Stila glitter eyeshadow.

Image: @kiribirii


You probably weren’t ready for this, and if I’m being totally honest, neither was I. But our ill-preparedness does not change the fact that neon loudly announced its return in 2018. If this is still feeling a little too 80s activewear for you, try adding just a touch of fluro to your outfit e.g. neon trim socks or jeans, this Off-White belt over a blazer or a bra peeking out from underneath a blouse.

Shop the look: this pink tee is perfect for anyone who only wears black, these neon yellow sandals are cute, this Prada clutch is to die for/will make any outfit P-O-P, and these orange hoops would update any French-girl outfit.


If your Instagram algorithm is anything like mine, your explore tab has been teaming with girls who look like they’re seconds away from skipping through a meadow to commence their milkmaid shift. Despite my general aversion to lactose-based beverages, I am so here for the trend—corset-esque dresses, square necklines and puff-sleeves are as adorbs as they are flattering.

BRB, popping down to my local dairy. But first…

Shop the look: No modern milk maid look is complete without a lace-up blouse, this equally as ~heavenly~ Jill Stuartsatin dress, a silky shirt to make this trend corporate cool and go ‘prairie’ at the weekend in this Reformation maxi.

Image: @maria_bernad


Retinas, rejoice! The teeny, tiny sunglasses of early 2018—that served no real practical purpose other than to highlight how we shouldn’t adopt trends just because they look good on Bella Hadid—have been replaced by XXL shades.

Other than bringing to mind images of Mary Kate and Ashley in giant sunglasses (holding even bigger Starbucks coffees), they’re part of a growing trend that’d suggest there’s nothing cooler than sun safety. Think larger-than-life straw hats (pioneered by Jacquemus), chic rash vests and high-neck swimmers. Plus, oversized sunnies are the key to hiding your life-threatening Sunday morning hangover.

Shop the look: It’s not a competition, but if it was, these Celine shades would win the cutest oversized shades of the season.


Upper thighs, meet the world. World, meet my frightfully pale upper thighs. Another nod to the 80s, high-waisted bikini bottoms have been the most googled fashion item for God knows how long and now their equally flattering friend high-cut are in and I’m more than fine with that. Pull ‘em up, pop on a pair of cute shades, and you’re g2g.

Shop the look: For a one-piece option, look no further than our BFF Hunza G with this super flattering seersucker swimsuit. For bottoms, Solid & Striped have got you covered with these very forgiving bad boys.

Image: @maria_bernad


I could’ve sworn I left leopard print back in 2006 with my leather pants (RIP), but alas, animal prints have popped up here, there and everywhere so the 2018~new~ wave has got me reconsidering my stance. Pair the trend back with casj options like denim, black suit or a white tee if you’re fence-sitting, or mix n’ match it with other neutral prints as mastered by Maria Bernad (here).

Shop the look: Sustainable swimwear brand, Fisch, is here with the safari-inspired goods. After a leopard swimsuit? They’ve got you with this smoking hot bikini. Fancy a bag that will spruce up any basic outfit? This zebra basket bag will do the trick.

Image: @double3xposure


This photo of Princess Diana donning bike shorts broke the internet this year. Any trend that promotes comfiness is one that I am onboard with, so the bike short gets two sparkly thumbs up from me.

Pair with a blazer and strappy heels for an unexpectedly chic nighttime look, or keep it chic ‘n’ classic with a white blouse.

Shop the look: We’ve have got you covered on all things bike shorts, from short ribbed ones to a more modest mid-thigh cut.

Image: @alwaysjudging


Finally our ankles recieved the attention they so desperately deserve! If you didn’t save your cowrie anklets from that family trip to Bali in the early noughties, it’s chill, ’cause they’re all over the internet. And the southern regions of our legs weren’t the only ones partying. Belly chains, body chains, and toe rings (pedicures are a NON-NEGOTIABLE for the latter) have made a comeback, just ask Instagram.

Shop the look: First thing’s first, grab yourself a cowrie anklet on Etsy (see here). Now that your ankles are happy, fill your cart with this belly chain, this body chain and this toe ring (remember what I said about that compulsory pedicure?).

So there you have it. The roundup of unexpected 2018 trends. What do you think next year will bring? Stone Age chic? The 1920s? We’re taking bets in the comments section below, so get casting for your chance to win… the euphoric feeling of being miles ahead of the curve.

Words, @carmengracehamilton