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Fall Style Essentials

This morning I awoke to a gloriously chilly 55 degrees, misty fog, and the banging of garbage bins as sanitation workers made their way down the street. Such is life. A mix of the superb and the mundane, which is an oddly apt way to describe the transition from summer to fall. You have those cool mornings followed by sweaty afternoons. Vivid sunsets that burn to signal the days are getting shorter and that seasonal affective disorder may be on the horizon.

One day the routine runs like clockwork, and the next, you’re in your robe, dragging your kid to the bus stop. Are their teeth brushed? Who cares?

With all the activities, the resets, and natural beauty around us, figuring out what to wear may be the last thing on your mind.

However, one of the best parts of fall for many of us are the sweaters, boots, and jackets getting dug out of their summer storage. Even if you’re all set with a fall wardrobe, there may be a few key pieces you’re missing and outfit combos to consider to spice up your look to match your pumpkin spice latte.

With the return of fall, is the return of outerwear. One of my favorite pieces to layer over an autumnal look is a coatigan. Imagine your favorite long cardigan and coat got together and made a baby; that baby is a coatigan. You can wear a coatigan over a striped shirt, flared jeans, and boots for day. At night, pair it with your favorite summer dress in early fall, then swap it for a sweater dress as it gets cooler in the coming months. I prefer a coatigan with closures, either buttons or a zipper, but many long cardigans hang open, so it’s really a matter of preference. Just be sure to pick up one with pockets.

Hoodies are another outerwear essential for fall. I love the idea of taking a traditionally sporty staple from athletic to something more luxe with a knitwear, as opposed to a sweatshirt-y zip-up. You can wear a cozy hoodie with jeans and sneakers running around on the weekend. Then switch up your workwear with baggy trousers and loafers, and layer a hoodie underneath a blazer. Over-the-head hoodies also work under jackets with jeans or joggers. I prefer hooded sweaters in neutrals like black and grey. But fall is a great time to experiment with colors, so consider richer shades like ochre, plum, or burgundy for a knit hoodie.

I’ve mentioned jeans a few times in some of the suggested outfit combinations above. This fall, you may find black jeans are becoming the backbone of many outfits. I rarely wear jeans during the summer, but when there’s frost on the grass and leaves start to turn, denim is back on the menu. Black jeans are great for both day and night, as they can be a stand-in for both black trousers and a little black dress, depending on how formal the occasion is. Wear black jeans with an oversized cardigan (maybe even that coatigan), a striped tee and loafers for a casually collegiate-inspired look. Or tuck them into high knee-high boots and top them off with a romantic floral blouse and gold jewelry for a grounded boho outfit. Of course, black jeans and buffalo-plaid flannel are a classic fall combo. I also love that you can wear black jeans with a denim jacket to avoid a Canadian tuxedo of denim-on-denim.

With jeans comes T-shirts, and every wardrobe should have at least one white tee on hand. White cotton T-shirts are extremely versatile and can be worn as part of just about any outfit. This fall, I’m gravitating toward oversized white tees, as well as fitted V-necks. I’m thinking of a baggy white tee with joggers, sneakers, and a bomber or denim jacket for a sporty look with a bit of edge. Or tucking an oversized crewneck into a high-waisted skirt with boots and a trench coat for a chic fall ensemble. A more fitted T-shirt can be worn with trousers and a blazer, or underneath a summery sleeveless dress. And you can just wear it on its own with jeans and flats.

As for accessories this fall, you’ll have your standard scarf, hat, and gloves later in the season. For now, I’ve been eyeing up some crossbody bags. For many, a bag is a functional element of your outfit, not necessarily adding or taking away. Crossbody bags can bring a fashionable edge to an otherwise basic look, especially those with a cool, guitar-inspired strap. Plus, they create a new silhouette going across the body. This may not be what you want in formal or more elegant outfits, but it’s perfect for a casual layered look for fall.

For footwear, I’m leaning heavily on sneakers. Yes, boots are quintessential for the season, but they can be heavy and kind of clunky. Sneakers, or as the Brits call them, trainers, have been making their way out of the gym and into daily, even formal life. A black Van-style slip-on can be worn like a black flat or dress shoe. While a chunky New Balance or Adidas-type sneakers can swap places with loafers or heels. I love the idea of styling a conventional outfit, like a suit and button-up, with a chunky sneaker.

Layer in a hoodie and strap on a crossbody bag, and you’ll have several fall essentials, creating a fun and unexpected workwear look.

Fall is a historically busy time of year, so having essential pieces and outfit ideas lined up can make those crisp mornings a bit less frantic and helps to ensure everyone leaves the house with brushed teeth.