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Fall is usually fashion’s biggest moment. Highly anticipated by the industry, it’s the season where the average consumer tends to shop the most. Combined, consumers spend almost double on “back to college” and back-to-school for kids than they do during the winter holidays. Pricier items like new coats, boots and other practical, long-wear items are intended to get many shoppers (especially those in seasonal climates) through the colder half of the year.
But fall ’20 will undoubtedly be different.
The fall ’20 runway season presented just as many possible fall fashion trends as those that came before. But the shows and presentations of fashion month happened in February and March, just as the pandemic was emerging — and before the industry understood the long-term impact it would have. As a return to “normal” life remains uncertain in its timing, (school and office re-openings are still very much up in the air), it’s unlikely that some of these proposed fall fashion trends will actually resonate in today’s new world of comfort and practicality. While the need for formal office attire has been dwindling for years, the pandemic’s lifestyle shift is seemingly the nail in the coffin for things like suits, ties and, yes, even some high heels.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 11 fall fashion trends that we think will actually resonate with shoppers this coming season:
1. The slipper
Let’s start with the obvious. Since more people are spending more time at home, it only makes sense that the slipper market would become the red-hot center of footwear for this season’s fall fashion trends. What’s great about the boom is that it’s ushering in a new kind of indoor shoe, and many styles are more fashion-forward with updated silhouettes and details. Take The Row’s mesh version, which became a quarantine “It” shoe this spring, or the slipper-sandal hybrid, which will easily transition to fall with a good pair of socks.
To buy: L.L. Bean cozy slipper booties, $69.
2. The cardi-coat
Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green had arguably one of the best sweater collections ever, and there were more than a few floor-length cardigans in there. The knit duster was a legitimate late-’90s, early ’00s trend that was already starting to creep its way back to fashion’s collective mindset. Rick Owens may have presented a dystopian view of the garment — blanket as fashion in an eerily foreshadowed quarantine — but we’re betting the more wear-friendly knit option will get lots of wear as a legit fall fashion trend that everyone can opt in on.
To buy: Apparis Aria cardigan coat, $148.
3. The “nap” dress
Who can argue with a piece of clothing designed to take a nap in? This summer’s cleverly named nap dress — basically a chic, updated version of a vintage nightgown-turned-housedress that can be worn both at home and in public, or while running through a “Sound of Music”-esque field — is bound to stay in rotation. Just throw that floor length sweater over it, slip on some slide slippers and voila! A lazy-chic early fall fashion trend ensemble is born.
To buy: Dôen Lovisa nightgown, $198.
4. The knit set
Hands down one of the best fall fashion trends to come out of the new stay-at-home mentality the knit set. As brands have pivoted their offerings to adjust a new way of life, many are seeking out chic but simple knitwear that are basically luxurious, public-friendly pajamas. If you don’t have a knit pant this fall and winter, you’re going to be missing out on the fall fashion trend with the most comfort.
To buy: Skims cozy knit tank, $52.
To buy: Skims cozy knit pant, $88.
5. The ballet flat
Ubiquitous in the early aughts (thanks, Tory Burch), the ballerina fell somewhat out of favor in the last decade, as women favored sneakers and then loafers and boots and their flat footwear. Perhaps it’s out of necessity — what’s easier than a ballet shoe? — or maybe the fashion cycle is just coming back around, but the ballet flat is destined to be a big fall fashion trend. Find chic options in chain accents, ruched leather and even shearling for a not-quite-but-almost slipper.
To buy: Schutz Brisey flat, $116 (was $165).
To buy: Tory Burch Minnie ballet flat, $268.
6. The bathrobe coat
Why stop at pajamas? Cozy, shearling coats meant to be tied were already all over the fall’ 20 runways, from Rag & Bone to Stella McCartney, but the current state of the world — and the instinct to just hide from it — makes the oversized bathrobe overcoat a must-have fall fashion trend in its sartorial self-soothing.
To buy: Apparis Mona faux fur coat, $300.
7. The “apocalyptic” rubber-soled boot
Footwear designers and fashion’s collective mindset must have had some sort of premonition that things were about to go awry. How else to explain why Prada, Bottega Veneta, Christian Dior and more would go big on the hybrid combat boot that? The fall ’20 runways had lots of rubber-soled options that look like they can kick some butt and then be easily cleaned with a Clorox wipe. That’s a true fall fashion trend for 2020.
8. Hands-free handbags
One thing many have learned while grocery shopping in a pandemic? You don’t really want to be carrying a bag in hand. Between face masks and constantly wiping everything down, no one needs the added worry of having to hold a handbag. Count on cross bodies and, yes, fanny packs to be the only relevant fall fashion trends for both now and this coming season.
9. Socks, with everything
There are many uncertainties in the world right now, but socks are not one of them. The first nip in the air and it’s guaranteed that literally everyone will go through their sock collection — and figure out what styles they still need. It wasn’t long ago that Birkenstocks and sandals were the dorkiest way to wear shoes, but it’s very likely the chicest of the chic will be wearing their Chanels with cozy stockings through the colder months, proving that the “ugly” sandal can cross over to be a fall fashion trend.
To buy: Thick knit crew socks, 3-pack, $11.
10. “Zoom” tops with a twist
Most of this year’s fall fashion trends are about practicality, from the colors (neutrals and a lot of browns) to materials (pajama-like everything). But if there is one piece of clothing that shoppers are likely to jazz up a bit, it’s the “Zoom” shirt. This will be open to interpretation and occasion, from meetings to cocktails to first dates, but shirts, blouses, sweaters and tanks will be the desired garments for color, print and embellishment. That can include the season’s predominance of plaid or a cool cutout or accent on an otherwise practical sweater.
To buy: Maje argyle sweater, $133 (was $165).
11. The cape coat
In case the sweater duster or the bathrobe coat don’t provide enough cozy comfort, the cape is here to save the day as one of the easiest fall fashion trends when it comes to outerwear. There were myriad examples on the runways, from Just make sure the cape doesn’t obscure one’s hands while grocery shopping.
To buy: Women’s checked cape, $30.