The Conundrum of Fall Fashion This Year

I can’t believe it’s already October, and I still haven’t posted about fall fashion trends. Scratch that, I can believe it because nothing in this year has gone as planned, So, this is just par for the 2020 course.

When thinking about fall fashion, there’s a balance to strike, and right now, I feel like I’m walking a tightrope. Historically, when working with my one on one styling clients, I look at what they have on their calendars for the season, specifically the next 30-90 days. Then I help them purchase items strategically and plan their outfits according to what’s on the docket. But in 2020, that’s kind of a joke, right? How are we to plan when we don’t know if kids are going to school? If we can attend weddings or bar mitzvahs? Or even if we can eat inside restaurants and feel comfortable doing so?

In a Typical Fashion Cycle…

And from a fashion standpoint, things are even more topsy turvy. In a typical fashion cycle, designers have runway shows six months in advance. It’s that creativity that sets the tone for the seasons ahead. The couture designers often take their inspiration from other artists in music, theater, and film. So those creators influence the designers that then trickle down to ready-to-wear fashion. And ready to wear designs then impact street style, and that then shapes the fashion choices of regular folks like you and me.

Did you follow all that? Are you still with me? Good. Well, the bottom line is that other than tweens on Tik Tok, there has been minimal newness created and shared in the last eight months, so the proverbial well of creativity and inspiration is running a little dry.

Mix that in with the reality that no one is really going anywhere or has a reason to get dressed – and you have the perfect storm for “what the world am I supposed to recommend when it comes to fall fashion!?!”

I don’t want to sound like a negative nelly because fashion can and should be fun. And not just frivolous fun. But deep down, feel good about yourself joy. Moods improve when people (myself included) feel they look good. Getting up and getting dressed positively impacts your day, your mood, and even your productivity. There are quite a few studies that back this theory up. But even without the Princeton Study and the Enclothed Cognition Study, we know, in our gut, that looking good and feeling good are inexplicably intertwined.

My Approach to Fall Fashion for 2020

Fashion for Fall 2020 should be about what we can wear that embraces our new normal AND still helps us feel good. Every year I look at what happened on the runways, see which of these trends caught on, and then, most importantly, assess which translates in real life. These days the realness of how to wear it in real life is even more relevant.

The Lens for Fall Fashion in 2020:

What can I wear now that…

  1. feels current and modern
  2. is comfortable 
  3. also goes with things I already have (and haven’t worn much)
  4. I’ll still want to wear in seasons to come

7 Fall Fashion Trends That Check off All of the Above

1. Cozy Knits

Knits are always part of the fall fashion program. In fact, I’d call them the comfort food of fashion. They exude warmth and coziness. An oversized cardigan or stylish cape can feel like you’re wearing a plush robe, but you can still look put together. As the weather gets colder, and we continue to socialize at a distance, outside, stylishly dressing for warmth will be essential.

2. Straight Leg Jeans

The skinny jean has been here for 10+ years, and while it is not going anywhere. However, straight leg jeans, with a baggier fit are gaining quite a bit of fall fashion traction. Every decade or so, proportions change, and the trend right now is a looser fitting bottom. In a post quarantine world, where sweatpants were the norm, a more forgiving pant becomes the MVP.  And you can expect this jean style to be around for a while as well.

3. Browns and Earthtones

There is a literal tonal warmth to this color palette. Browns, camels, rusts. Adding an item in that color family to your wardrobe can make existing pieces feel new and fresh. Warmer colors pair nicely with black and grey and help soften the harshness of cooler colors. Style tip: If browns and earth tones are not your best color, don’t wear them next to your face. Add a bootie or belt in a brown tone and mix it with pieces in your color ideal color family. One unexpected color combo I’ve seen popping up a lot is blue and brown. More of a baby blue and a true brown, and it’s gorgeous.

4. Lug Sole Boots

Fall and boots go hand in hand. And this season, boots, and particularly combat boots, are being shown with exaggerated lug soles. There is something very grounding as well as practical about this style. After months of wearing slippers, many women will have a hard time returning to heels, so a combat boot paired with a dress is an up to date alternative.

5. Oversized Blazers

Blazers are a wardrobe staple and my personal go-to third piece. And just as the proportions of jeans have evolved recently, so too have the proportions of blazers. Fitted and cropped blazers can still be worn with confidence. However, adding an oversized topper to the mix (yes, even if you’re petite) can modernize your fall fashion looks.

6. Plaid

Plaid feels like a fall/winter pattern. And this season plaids are popping up in abundance. I like using plaids when mixing patterns such as florals or dots because they help marry the color schemes. And if you’re not a pattern mixer, plaids add a touch of interest that helps an outfit feel fresh without being over the top.

7. Faux Fur

Faux fur is popular from a style standpoint, as well as in a business sense. In fact, last month Nordstrom announced that as of 2021 the entire company would be fur-free. I don’t personally have an issue wearing real fur (although I try to keep mine to pre-loved fur – so I can partake in the softness and warmth, but also feel like it’s better for the environment). These days faux furs are so realistic, it’s sometimes hard to tell.

Only time will tell if the fashion cycle recalibrates, or if we will all be wearing sweatpants for eternity. Oh, I hope that’s not the case. 

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Photo: Molly Nook


Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

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