How To Style Fall Trends Without Looking Basic

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Let me start by saying I love a good “basic” fit. From jeans and a white tee out to leggings and a sweater to the bodega, I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel every time I step out. I like to think I do it in a chic Emma Chamberlain way, but still.

I’ve also been known to follow a trend. Whether it’s the Euphoria make-up trend, the New Balance trend (but notCrocs or ASICS), or everything from Lisa Says Gah, I’m not afraid to dabble in popular fashion. I think it’s fun to participate in a trend or two. It keeps dressing up fun.

However, with the dominance of social media microtrends and fast fashion, there are too many trends to keep up with. And too many niche aesthetics to wrap your head around. Like, is everyone supposed to do all of them? What would that closet even look like? Coastal grandmother-inspired cardigans, dark academia loafers, and Y2K sparkly tops galore?

All of this to say, it’s important to be discerning. TikTok’s favorite stylist, Allison Bornstein, champions mindful shopping by pulling from what you already have first. “Shopping your own closet was a response to the overconsumption and the influence of social media and micro trends,” Bornstein says. “We see so much newness and so many different trends and aesthetics on the internet, and then we look at our own closet, and we’re like, Well, I don’t have that. Do I need it?”

@allisonbornstein6 #greenscreen no need to knock it all down and rebuild each season! we should be building on what we have / love / wear to create an amazing versatile wardrobe. tip 2 is one of my faves that i always do every season! what other tips do you have for building your fall wardrobe?! #fashiontiktok #fyp #fashioniswellness #stylist #fallfashion #fall #moodboard ♬ original sound - Allison Bornstein

Instead of rushing to add every flashy new item to your cart, resist trend envy by considering what makes each new aesthetic appealing to you. Do you like disco-chic or just want to wear your going-out-tops more? Do you need to try Barbie-core, or do you just want to pull your more feminine pieces back out of your closet?

“If you’re inspired by a look, it won’t feel like you’re copying and pasting somebody else’s aesthetic,” Bornstein says. “By shopping your closet, you’re using your own things that you already love.”

This is also the key to mixing fall fashion favorites with more novel pieces. You can resist “basic” outfit formulas just by making unexpected pairs and easy switches. Here is your ultimate guide to not dressing “basic” this fall.

1. Denim Jackets

We get it. Fall comes, and you want to pull out your leggings, your flannel, and your denim jackets (by you, I mean me … I’m guilty). But “in with the new” doesn’t have to mean “out with the old.” A classic is a classic for a reason. Make your denim jacket more interesting by layering it with — you guessed it — more denim. Double denim is super in this fall. From New York Fashion Week street style to your closet, shop the perfect pair of Levi’s to complete your fall fits.

2. Cozy Sweaters

Fall is for two things: listening to Taylor Swift’s Cardigan on repeat and wearing actual cardigans. Sweaters are always in for fall, but elevate the classic with cashmere. Cashmere is always a timeless choice. And good news, it doesn’t have to be expensive — no matter what Brad Pitt and Gigi Hadid are trying to sell you.

For neutral staple pieces that will last you forever, shop Gentle Herd cashmere. They’re stocked with soft and snug pieces for every style and budget. For another sustainable option, shop Reformation’s new cashmere collection. Their effortlessly cool cashmere will make you wish sweater weather lasted year-round.

3. Trousers

Jeans and leggings aren’t your only options for pants. Yes, I could live in my Girlfriend leggings, but I’ve recently added trousers to my outfit rotation, and they’ve made all the difference. Even if you pair them with a plain T-shirt or the aforementioned cozy sweater, you’ll automatically have a put-together look for fall. For those still struggling to find the right pair, look no further than Everlane. Their basics just fit better than any I’ve tried, and the buttery soft trousers make business casual way more casual.

4. Silk Pants

Silk pants aren’t only for vacation. They’ve been spotted all over the chicest celeb instas and they’re a genius way to add a slinky, sexy element to any fall outfit. The total unexpected staple. Add them to your fall wardrobe for a romantic take on the summer’s silk dress. A pair of dressy pants from Nap Loungewear are just as suitable for a night out as they are for a night in. And these silk cargos from The Outnet are an unmatched combination of both the silk pants and the cargo pants trends. Or just wear your PJs out in the spirit of shopping in your own closet. Anything goes in the pursuit of un-basicness.

5. Ballet Flats

Ballet silhouettes are huge for fall. From drop waist skirts to slicked-back buns and now ballet flats, we’re all taking inspo from our childhood ballet lessons. Inner child healing through sartorial exploration, maybe. Probably nothing as noble. Personally, I’m motivated by those Miu Miu ballet flats I can’t afford. But any ballet-inspired look will feel fresh this fall. Dainty shoes or not.

6. Birkenstock Bostons

You’ve no doubt seen Birkenstock Bostons everywhere as autumn arrived – even clever Amazon dupes have cropped up on my feed. And while these are a perfect bodega shoe, wearing them as an outfit piece is difficult to do without looking like a clone. Is it too late to hop on the trend? Never. Instead, wear them as what Bornstein calls “the wrong shoe.” Instead of going with the expected shoe for an outfit — sneakers in a casual fit, heels for a night out — wear something unexpected. Pull out your new Birks for a night out, or to tie together a more femme fit. The surprising pairing will bring your look to life.

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