We’ve been doing this blogging thing long enough now that the very idea of fall trends(!!) are more likely to invoke ennui rather than excitement. If you’ll indulge me a Vogue editor eyeroll for a sec…plaid? For fall?
What I find more interesting than fall trends, which are either fleeting (colored jeans) or basically fall classics (hi, plaid,) is the subtle shifting of clothing silhouettes over time. These changes creep in, styles morph ever-so-slightly, until one day you wake up, years later, wondering where bootcut jeans went. For example.
I think we’re at one of these moments.
Over the last 10+ years, clothing trends have been going through subtle changes. Rises have crept higher (for both tops and jeans), legs, looser. Magazines have been warning us about the “death” of skinny jeans since I was pregnant with Pax, and while skinnies will never actually die…I suspect they won’t be the default denim of this next decade.
And when major silhouettes change, there’s often a waterfall effect of other changes, new trends rise to the surface, necessary to support this style metamorphosis.
The 2021 Fall Fashion Trends To Get Excited About
So this year, the fall trends are a mixed bag. Some are looking very much like a true, possibly fleeting trend (something you just maybe try for fun) while others are looking like trends that are needed to support the natural progression of these new silhouettes.
While I have my own (strong) opinions about which trends are worth a second look, I wanted to see which trends the TME editors were excited about, and chat with our Millennial and Gen Z staff as well. The results of our discussion and debate is the list below. True to form, we’re mostly excited about practical stuff, with a few nostalgic pieces and one Hail Mary thrown in for fun (cowboy boots, I’m looking at you).
Here’s a quick summary:
- Denim Trends: Loose, Straight Leg or Baggy Jeans, Wide-Leg Jeans, Flares (cropped or full-length)
- Shoe & Boot Trends: High-Shaft Platform Chelsea Boots, Chunky Loafers, Cowboy Boots, and old ’90s footwear (Vans, Converse and Mary Janes)
- What’s Trending for Tops: Half-Zip Pullovers, Sweater Vests, Anything Cropped or Oversized, Shirt Jackets
- Dress Trends: ’70s Milkmaid Dresses (or Peasant Dresses), Bold Prints, and ’90s Slip-dresses
- The Color of the Season: Green (all shades)
- Comfy Trends: Ribbed Knit Skirts, Straight leg or Wide-Leg Sweatpants, Bootcut or Split-hem Leggings
1. Loose Jeans
Whether they’re full-length or cropped, a looser jean is a very fresh look. Rises are still high, but we’re starting to see more mid-rise (and possibly low-rise) denim pop up. But the vibe (regardless of rise) is very borrowed-from-the-boys.
Pairing loose jeans with footwear and jackets, however, is tricky; we clearly need to do some work in this area. While high heels make everything look good, figuring out sneakers and coats is my top priority.
That said, these jeans are hella comfortable. A girl could get used to letting her legs breathe. And the fact that there are still so many possible options? Meredith’s with me: “I’m excited about the breadth of styles that are hitting the scene: straight jeans, bootcut jeans that feel — dare I say — current!? It feels like there is no one on-trend jean, which I kinda love.”
I couldn’t agree more.
2. ’70s Vibes (+ Wide-Leg Jeans)
The ’70s is another trend that has been coming on strong several years in a row. Wide-leg denim, clogs, clog boots, bandana print, patchwork, straw bags, peasant tops and milkmaid dresses…it’s all here. Scotti plans to rock that bold fringe bag below, calling it a “modern-’70s vibe” (agreed) with chunky wooden platforms.
Personally, I’m loving my wide-leg denim. I have one pair hemmed for heels, and another pair hemmed for flats. While loose jeans feel like a huge departure from skinny jeans (and therefore can be tricky to style)…flare jeans (or trouser jeans or wide-leg jeans) are pretty foolproof skinny jeans alternatives.
(Exception: rain and snow. Skinnies are still the best in rain and snow.)
3. Chunky Shoes
If you are looking for a foolproof boot to pair with loose denim styles AND a way to modernize skinny jeans…it’s the chunky, high-shaft Chelsea boot. Slide the boots up underneath a pair of straight leg jeans (or cropped flares OR mom jeans)…or wear’em over your skinny jeans for a badass, almost military-inspired look (see an example here). Either way it feels pretty fresh.
If you’re not a boot girl, the chunky platform shoe will give a similar vibe (and can be styled in the same way).
4. Cropped Tops (Especially Jackets & Sweaters)
Cropped tops are such a thing right now, and there is seriously nothing more fresh and sexy than the combo of loose, boyish jeans + bra top.
Rock it if you wanna.
I, however, don’t wanna. Instead, I’ve been having plenty of crop top fun with cozy cropped sweaters (like this outfit). It turns out that a cropped sweater is the perfect update for my looser jeans.
Laura and Scotti are also leaning hard into the cropped trend, but with a twist: jackets. Scotti has a very similar blazer to the one Laura is wearing in the pic above, and says that it “looks cute with everything from high-rise flares to midi dresses (and are MUCH easier to wear than cropped tops).”
Fun fact: Cropped jackets are the ONLY topper than work with swingy dresses, too. And we can both vouch for that super-soft cropped denim jacket, below.
5. Half-Zip Sweaters
I wrote an article, years ago, asking guys to please stop wearing their half-zip sweaters. “It’s time to MOVE ON,” I said. “STOP DRESSING LIKE AN OLD MAN AND PUT ON A CREWNECK, FOR GOD’S SAKE.”
My buddy Sam texted two days later. “WTF” he said. “I was wearing one last night and you didn’t even tell me?? Let me walk around like an old guy???”
Well. Now they’re back. Someone tell Sam.
In all seriousness, though, this style works really well with loose jeans. Look for one with a sporty, shorter shape. And if you need some proof, I styled up my favorite half-zip sweater here.
6. ’90s Style Vibes
If the looser jeans, chunky shoes and half-zips didn’t tip you off, I’ll be blunt: Bust out some brown lip-liner. The ’90s are back in force.
The key to rocking a style for the second time (or third, I’m losing track) is to focus on the pieces that are allllmost classic, rather than costumes. Often, these pieces are the ones that are also practical and easy-to-wear. So in terms of ’90s trends, I’m going to continue to rock Vans (something I never really stopped wearing), slip dresses (same), and will be digging out my old Converse and pairing them with bike shorts.
I also can throw my support behind Mary Jane shoes, too, especially Everlane’s Mary Jane Flats (see below). They come in a few colors and pair well with boyish denim. The rich tan suede is a 2021 twist that makes them modern and fresh.
on Amy: Quilted Jacket
The oversized trend has been one of those creeping ones, with more and more retailers participating each year. And while I don’t think it’s going to be one of those trends that TAKES OVER, it IS the kind that keeps things fresh and interesting. I’ve been eyeing Amy’s slouchy, slightly oversized outfits with interest; they remind me of what I wore in college — and have found myself sizing up in response. I’ve been playing it safe with an oversized sweater or tee, but Amy has called this quilted Dolman jacket one of her “most-worn items” and is now considering their faux-leather version, too. Bonus points for texture.
Other ideas? A slouchy, oversized sweater is an easy way to make skinny jeans feel fresh (especially when paired with chunky boots), and an oversized jacket is killer with midi dresses and all kinds of denim.
8. Cowboy Boots
In one of our discussions, someone brought up cowboy boots, as in, “why can I not stop thinking about COWBOY BOOTS?” and a surprisingly large amount of us were all like YES GUILTY [raises hand].
I don’t know why I want them, I don’t *exactly* know how I’ll wear them…but I do know that when this many of us are feelin’ some kinda way…darlin’…it’s time to boot up.
The interesting thing about cowboy boots? They’re more classic than a trend. Lex, for example, has been wearing her cowboy boots for years. And while western-inspired boots are a TME team fav (Julieta, Laura, and my favs), I’m seriously considering a full-on cowboy boot. Like the chunky boots, they might be a good way to make skinny jeans feel fresh…and look seriously amazing with dresses or skirts.
ps. Aliya (our Gen Z intern), recently found the most beautiful cowboy boots from Brother Vellies (pictured below) that are literally haunting my dreams.
9. Green Anything
This past July, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (our first real peek at fall merch) was filled with the most gorgeous shades of green. “Green, green, green, green, green! Give me ALL the green this fall,” says Linzi, and I couldn’t agree more. Happily, other retailers have been following suit, and the result is the most swoon-worthy twists on classics. Case in point?
“I’m in love with my green bag from Clare V (back in stock!)” says Linz, “and am looking forward to figuring out how to transition my lime green flats from summer to fall.” Linz is also planning to snap up a pair of green sneakers, but can’t decide which pair: “maybe these or these?”
10. Sweater Skirts
Sweater Skirt (**SUSTAINABLE**)
If jeans still feel like a bridge too far, especially after a year of sweatpants…what about a knit skirt? Linz wore a mini sweatshirt skirt to the beach the other day, and Scotti has relied on sweater skirts for years, calling them “the loungewear of dress-up“. (You can see how she’s been styling her knit skirt for holiday parties, here.)
While matching jogger sets were a go-to these past two years, I think the soft knit skirt (matching sweater or no) is going to be a big win this year. And based on the speed at which these pieces have been flying off the shelves…we’re not alone.
11. Sweater Vests
This is the type of fun little trend that probably won’t be super long lasting, but is often an easy way to make your existing basics feel fresh. Laura found a perfect option, a houndstooth sweater vest (under $50!) that’s also available in plus sizes. Not only is she layering it over a tee (above), but she’s also plans to pair it with “black straight leg jeans and these Comme des Garcons high top Chuck Taylors I love.”
12. Shirt Jackets
Shirt jackets…yet another fun little trend that has been coming on strong in recent years. If you are sick of cardigans, a shirt jacket is a pretty foolproof way to modernize a cardigan outfit.
Amy has been putting some major miles in with her ‘shacket’, partly because she’s yet to find an outfit that her go-to shacket doesn’t work with, whether it’s a “cozy day-off look, some summer shorts, or something a bit dressier for date night.” Bonus, hers is under $50.
You can see more ways Amy’s styling her shirt jacket here.
13. Wide-Leg Lounge Pants (aka Flares)
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Remember THESE? I’m…I’m gonna do it again. This time around I might go more sweatpant, less flare leggings, but WE WILL SEE.
While my fall wardrobe will most likely be dictated by my own whims (haha)…I was pretty happy with the direction many of these trends were heading in. It just makes shopping that much easier.
What are you guys planning to wear this fall?