Summer isn’t quite over yet, but we’re already looking ahead to the season of cozy cashmere, plaid skirts and pumpkin spice everything. Last fall we were more than happy to wrap ourselves in sweatpants and fancy PJs while working from home, but this year we’re eager to put together outfits that are a bit more fashion forward as we slowly start incorporating more restaurant visits, office days and hangouts with friends into our schedule. Here you’ll find the top 11 fall fashion trends for fall 2021 to start shopping (and wearing) right this very second. From the return of Rachel Green as style icon to Doug Funnie’s signature piece to comfortable heels you can actually walk in, here’s everything you’ll want to add to cart for fall.
1. ‘90s Revival
‘90s fashion has been enjoying a return to the spotlight for a few years now, but this fall we expect the trend to go even further with folks rocking the decade’s staple looks from head to toe, rather than using them as accent pieces. Pair your new favorite baguette bags with sheath dresses, tall square-toe boots and maxi-length cardigans. Or wear a cropped cardigan set over a miniskirt and sneakers with ankle socks. Layer white T-shirts and grungy boots under silk slip dresses, pull a plaid shacket on over skater jeans and try some cute overalls with a polo tee. When in doubt just channel Rachel Green and you’ll be good to go.
Shop the trend: J.Crew cardigan ($65; $40); Open Edit sweater ($59); Madewell skirt ($70); BB Dakota sweater ($138); M.M.LaFleur dress ($295; $175); Marc Fisher Ltd. boots ($189); Cuyana slip dress ($195); Sam Edelman boots ($225)
2. Saturated Hues
Typically the transition from summer to fall means swapping out pretty pastels and tropical brights for shades of navy, khaki green, burgundy and other moody hues. But this year vibrant shades still reign supreme, albeit with an autumnal twist. Think boosted jewel tones, deep magenta, mustard yellow and other rich options. The best way to rock this trend is by mixing and matching unexpected combinations, like peachy orange and bright blue or bubblegum pink and marigold, to form a look that’s both wonderfully colorful and seasonally appropriate.
Shop the trend: ASOS blazer ($79); J.Crew dress ($118; $85); Maeve skirt ($90); Callahan cardigan ($98); Porridge pants ($120); Rhode dress ($425; $255); White + Warren sweater ($285); MISA Los Angeles top ($310)
3. Loose-Fit Denim
Skinny jeans will always hold a special place in our hearts, but for fall 2021, looser styles like mom jeans, flares, bootcuts and boyfriend jeans are the way to go. Mom jeans and loose straight-leg cuts in particular are the most popular silhouettes, as are cross-front waists for an added fun detail. To balance out extra fabric on bottom we suggest wearing a slim-fit tee and tailored blazer, cropped sweater or elegant blouse tucked in.
4. Sweater Vests
This Doug Funnie-approved trend first popped up in 2020, but it is still going strong in Fall 2021. The most popular styles are those with some texture and detailing, rather than plain monochrome cashmere, and a bit of an oversize fit. While the weather’s still warm, try wearing one with nothing underneath (except a bra, if you like) with some loose-fit jeans. As temperatures continue to drop, you can layer your vests over shirtdresses, button-downs, turtlenecks and even another sweater.
5. Midriff-Baring Sets
This summer we saw wrap-around strings on bare midriffs in the form of bikinis, crop tops and midi dresses. This fall the trend is taking a simpler turn with hints of skin peeking out between coordinating tops and midi or maxi skirts. You can go bold and show a lot of your middle à la Lorde in her music video for Solar Power, or keep it subtle with a sliver that’s really only visible while you’re on the move.
Shop the trend: ASOS cardigan ($40) and skirt ($32); Re Ona top ($65) and skirt ($75); Y.A.S. sweater ($85) and skirt ($85); Alix top ($95) and skirt ($195); Rag & Bone top ($195) and skirt ($295); Tory Burch top ($248) and skirt ($330)
6. Printed Pants
Jeans and trousers in snake prints, checkerboard, zebra stripes and punchy florals are popping up left and right. Unlike floaty wide-leg styles you might wear in the summer, these iterations feature much heavier, more structured fabrics like denim, corduroy or wool and have a more tailored fit. Have fun pairing them with other vibrant prints or go simple and let them steal the show under a plain black, white or gray sweater.
7. Puffy, Quilted and Textured Handbags
Think crossbodies that resemble puffer coats, intricately woven leather clutches and ruching galore. Some bags might even combine all three. Perhaps our favorite thing about this trend, is that you can essentially pick and choose any style you like—a large tote that fits your laptop, a mid-size crossbody for weekend errands or a mini that fits just the essentials for a night out. The chicest styles are monochrome leather, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still rock a puffed-up nylon clutch or a ruched zebra-print shoulder bag.
While most of the shades you’ll see this fall are much more saturated and rich, you’re also likely to see a ton of pale lilac and lavender. The pretty hue popped up on runways in every city during fashion month, including Lacoste, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jonathan Simkhai and Roksanda. and in a wide variety of styles too. Pick up one or two statement pieces, like a lavender blazer, wide-leg trousers or a floaty midi dress, then mix and match them with other shades of purple or classic basics, like jeans and a T-shirt.
Shop the trend: I Saw It First skort ($40); Cotton On shacket ($75); Pieces blazer ($79); Free People sweater dress ($128); INDAH shirt ($150); ASTR the Label dress ($158); RE/DONE sweatshirt ($215); Tory Burch dress ($498)
9. Platforms and Flatforms
Flatform espadrilles and ‘90s-inspired sandals were one of the top shoe trends this summer, and the elevated styles will definitely carry over into fall and winter. Platform loafers and lace-up boots, as well as clogs and ‘70s-esque heels, will give you a chic lift that’s also much easier to walk in than stilettos (thank god).
10. Sequins and Sparkles for Day
We haven’t been out and about in over a year and now we plan to live it up—or such is the thought behind “revenge dressing.” Folks are pulling out the most fun, fabulous pieces from their wardrobes, including NYE-ready sequins and other shiny metallics, and wearing them anywhere they please, from coffee dates to brunch to a quick jaunt to the grocery store. The best way to make these statement materials work is by pairing them with super casual basics, like a white button-down, raw-hem denim or an easy T-shirt.
11. Dark Academia
Think The Heathers with a punk twist, or Harry Potter but for chic adults instead of angsty teens. This moody trend started with Gen Z on TikTok, but really it works for just about any age or style. Stand out pieces include pleated mini and midi skirts in dark hues, tailored leather blazers and jackets, and preppy plaids in deep shades of green, navy, burgundy, brown and black.