The past year has undoubtedly changed the way I dress, and I’m sure it’s changed the way you do too. After spending most of last year in stretch pants, it feels wrong to go back to the uncomfortable and often impractical clothing we were wearing before. While I’ve certainly enjoyed getting dressed in “real clothes” again, the outfits I’ve been picking out feel more easy-going. These days I find myself choosing boyfriendy button-up shirts over frilly blouses and lived-in Levi’s 501s instead of skintight skinny jeans.
I’m also thinking about the social, economic, and environmental impacts of my wardrobe. Why waste your money on low-quality fast fashion pieces and short-lived trends when you can support your favorite local boutiques and fill your closet with clothes you want to keep forever? That’s why this season, I’ll only be shopping for Fall 2021 fashion trends with staying power. Instead of stocking up on the most eye-catching seasonal trends, I’m updating the wardrobe essentials I know I’ll keep for years to come. Below, you’ll find eight key pieces for Fall 2021 that are currently in my cart.
Though they’re some of the season’s hottest items, these must-have Fall 2021 fashion trends will still be in style for years to come.
Vintage-Inspired Straight-Leg Jeans
After spending the past year in baggy sweatpants and stretch fabrics, only a brave few are ready to return to skinny jeans. So instead of skintight denim, designers like Celine and Rag & Bone opted for timeless high-rise, straight-leg jeans in vintage-inspired washes. Though the flattering bottoms draw inspiration from classic 90s denim, they feel incredibly modern (and comfortable too).
If there’s one pair of pants worth investing in for Fall 2021, it’s a pair of high-rise, straight-leg jeans in a distressed medium wash. Stick to pairs like these Agolde 90s Pinch Waist Jeans that are made with non-stretch, 100% cotton fabric. While they may feel a bit stiff at first, they’ll mold perfectly to your shape over time. Due to the lack of stretch, you may find you need to size up to get the right fit.
Go-To Trench Coat
When it comes to outerwear, this season is all about versatility. An updated take on a classic trench coat or camel wool coat can easily be dressed up and down and pairs well with nearly everything in your wardrobe. Layer it over your business suit and heels when you return to the office, and toss it on over a basic tee, boyfriend jeans, and sneakers on a blustery fall day. If you’re feeling adventurous, try styling your trench coat as a dress with knee-high leather boots as seen on the runway at Gabriela Hearst.
The key to finding a keep-forever coat is to look for something simple with elevated touches that keep it from being boring. While the classic silhouette will keep it in style for years to come, the unique design details make it feel special. Take this Oversized Cotton-Blend Trench Coat from The Mannei for example. It’s just as practical as a standard trench coat and even more versatile thanks to detachable sleeves.
Rib-Knit Layering Tees
A drawer full of layering tees and turtlenecks can exponentially increase your outfit possibilities. Plus, they’re a great way to extend the life of your favorite summer pieces a bit further into fall. At Longchamp and Valentino, lightweight turtlenecks and body-hugging tees were layered under everything from seasonless silk midi dresses to basic white button-ups to brightly-colored power suits.
Early fall weather can be quite unpredictable, so save your long-sleeve tees and cozy turtlenecks for late October and stick with sleeveless layering tops for now. Not only will you avoid overheating in fluctuating temperatures, but you won’t have to deal any added bulk in the sleeves of your favorite blazer, denim jacket, or leather moto. Sanctuary’s Essential Sleeveless Mock Neck Top is one of my personal favorites thanks to its ultra-stretchy fabric and subtle ribbed texture.
Everyday Oversized Sunglasses
It’s no surprise that the skinny sunglasses trend of the late 20-teens was short-lived. Though super skinny rectangle sunglasses may look good on The ‘Gram, they aren’t practical— and frankly aren’t very flattering either. For Fall 2021, snag a pair of oversized sunglasses instead. Skip the futuristic shield sunglasses, and opt for a timeless pair of oversized aviators or rectangular sunglasses that you can sport for years to come.
These sleek Ellerston Gold-Tone Aviator Sunglasses are the perfect everyday sunglasses for Fall 2021. They blend the timelessness of classic metal-framed aviators with a modern oversized silhouette. The chic brown tint feels far more sophisticated than super reflective metallic lenses.
Versatile Knee-High Boots
Bored with your ankle boots? Me too. This fall, swap your chunky Chelsea boots and snakeskin ankle boots for a pair of leg-lengthening knee-high leather boots. The elegant knee-high silhouettes on this season’s runways can be styled with everything from mini skirts to midi dresses to tucked-in trousers tucked in.
If you’re new to the world of knee-high boots, I recommend starting with something simple like these Ingela Leather Knee-High boots from the Stockholm-based footwear label Flattered. The statement-making boots are made from luxe black leather with a comfortable mid-height angled heel. They’re perfect for work, weekends, date nights, and every cold-weather outfit in between.
Luxe Leather Separates
Leather separates have made a major comeback over the past few seasons. While last fall, designers focused primarily on leather blazers, they expanded their offering to include other chic leather separates like shorts and mini skirts. To ensure your outfits are fall-weather friendly, Fendi, Saint Laurent, and Valentino paired their leg-baring leather pieces with coordinating knee-high leather boots.
Thanks to innovations in eco-friendly tanning and vegan leather alternatives, there are more leather-clad options on the market than ever before. For starters, add a basic leather mini skirt or a pair of comfortable black leather shorts to your fall wardrobe. While some faux leathers can look stiff and plastic-like, these Manon Pleated Vegan Leather Shorts from The Frankie Shop feel incredibly soft and supple, just like the real thing.
Basic White Button-Up Shirt
This season, many fashion designers revisited timeless wardrobe essentials like button-ups, blazers, and trousers, so now is a great time to stock up on versatile basics. While purchasing a simple white button-up shirt may not feel as exciting as snagging a trendy It-item before it sells out, you’ll sure be glad you did. The simple Fall 2021 fashion trend will mix and match far better with all your favorite statement accessories and stand-out pieces.
Frank & Eileen’s Barry Long-Sleeve Button-Down Top offers a modern take on a classic white button-up. Instead of crisp cotton poplin, it’s made with lightly distressed denim. The relaxed fit and lived-in fabric bring an effortless feel to dressy trousers, skirts, and other business casual attire.
Knit Midi Skirt
Knitwear was undoubtedly one of the biggest Fall 2021 fashion trends. Designers knew that after sporting stretchy yoga pants and oversized tees for so long, most women aren’t quite ready to go back to stiff fabrics. And sophisticated knit sets, cardigans, sweaters, skirts, and dresses stormed the runway as a result. You can’t go wrong this season with a curve-skimming knit midi skirt.
This sexy Nicholas Gisele skirt feels just comfortable as your favorite sweatpants but looks far more glamourous. The V-cut waistband helps accentuate your hourglass shape and the thigh-high slit adds a dash of sex appeal to the otherwise covered-up style. The chic gold chain detail is just the icing on the cake. Style the knit midi with Nicholas’ coordinating Alma Top for a cold-weather-friendly going-out look.
Runway imagery sourced from Vogue Runway.