I’m a Fashion Stylist, and These Are My 9 Must-Have Pieces for Fall
There's no need to restock your closet this fall. These strategic picks will update your look instantly—and have staying power for years to come.
When the leaves begin to change and the temperatures slightly dip, I start getting excited about switching up my outfits, and I’m guessing you feel the same. Fall is always a fresh start when it comes to personal style, bringing the promise of cool new looks, more structured designs and a dose of coziness. If you’re worried that you need to overhaul your closet to bring your style up to speed, don’t be. I’ve been a stylist for more than 20 years, and to update your wardrobe, all you really need to do is add a few smartly curated items. Truly.
So what are these easy fashion ideas that will breathe new life into your look? Bring in richer fabrics like wool, cashmere and leather, incorporate a few trending pieces that are classic and versatile enough to remain relevant over time, and layer fall items with your summer clothes to come up with some nicely textured combos. My philosophy when it comes to style is to play the long game and go for pieces that fit today’s aesthetic but won’t feel outdated next year. And here’s some good news on the fashion front: We’re heading into really chic, cool looks ahead that are polished and timeless, which means they’re totally worth the investment.
Here are my top fall picks that will revitalize your closet and help you avoid some common outfit mistakes. Fads come and go, but these enduring style ideas will help you spend your money wisely—and be on-point for this season and many falls to come.
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Invest in an oversized structured blazer that goes with everything
The modern workplace is evolving, and that calls for an adaptable wardrobe that can swing from ultra professional to cool and casual. A blazer is the perfect workhorse because it completes your outfit and bridges that gap between formal and relaxed. This season, the cut is roomy but still structured—you may even want to go with shoulder pads. I know, it’s a throwback, but it’s cool again. I love it!
Pick something patterned or solid—your choice—and throw it over virtually anything to tie your look together in a way that’s both classic and contemporary. Basics like a sharp white T-shirt and black pants, for instance, look really tailored with a jacket.
Your blazer is also a fantastic layering piece. Wear it over your summer dresses to transition them into cooler months. You can even do this with shorts for a look that’s easygoing but tidy and thoughtful.
Wear wide-leg jeans to elevate any outfit
Jean silhouettes ebb and flow—they’re super skinny one year, droopy the next—but I will forever be devoted to the wide-leg cut for fall … and, really, for eternity. This shape just always works, which makes them the best jeans in my book. For optimum versatility, go for styles with a slightly higher waistband and hems that hit around the ankle. They’ll look great with any top and also bring your footwear prominently into the mix. Go with ankle boots for an elevated look, or with a classic white sneaker when you want something sportier.
Opt for sweaters with sculpted sleeves
Little flourishes can make the difference between a look that’s plain Jane and one that feels dynamic, and this fall, it’s all about sweaters with architecture, like puffy shoulders or billowy sleeves. They offer a contemporary twist on tradition, feeling polished without being one bit uptight. In fact, they give off a cool, comfy vibe. Try wearing them with jeans or a slim-fit trouser and pair of ballet flats.
If you’re really not someone who loves a lot of poof, you still have options. Go for a sweater with an interesting neckline or detailing on the back (like buttons) instead.
Go bold with red
Bright tomato red is the season’s definitive hue—it was huge on every runway. Plus, it has a rich, warm tone, which works perfectly for fall’s natural color palette. This red, which is more in the orange-tone family than cherry, also happens to be a universally flattering color. And when you wear red on the upper half of your body—in a blouse, fall dress or sweater—it’ll give your skin a nice youthful glow!
Try “stealth wealth” for ultimate elegance
Sometimes you want a look to speak volumes without shouting, and that means mastering the art of understatement. What I refer to as “stealth wealth” means going for quality over anything with a lot of bells and whistles. Think: simple pieces in high-end fabrics that clearly say you have an aesthetic that’s elegant and classy. I love a clean, classic camel coat, which elevates anything you wear underneath—including basic black leggings (a combo I’m very into)—and will take you into winter looking fabulous.
Pair a silky sheath dress with unexpected pieces
There’s a fluidity in a silky slip dress that makes it a perfect pairing with so many pieces. I love it with your oversized blazer, or a relaxed, slouchy sweater. It’s really all about playing up the contrasts. By mixing the smooth dress texture with the ruggedness of wool or the casual feel of cotton, it gives your outfit some really nice richness and interest while still keeping it pretty simple. Leather ankle boots add some edge and finish the look beautifully.
Nod to tradition with a pop of tartan
This fall, tartan is making its mark everywhere. It’s a timeless pattern that will make your outfit feel totally current and ageless all at once, since it has that added reference to regal history and legacy. You can wear it a million ways—drape a tartan shawl or scarf over the shoulders of a coat or denim jacket. Or go smaller with gloves or a clutch, and pair them with a monochromatic outfit so the design pops. I also love something fun and unexpected, like a standout pair of tartan pants. It’s perfect, in my opinion, for everyone, including those looking for cool fashion over 40.
Add a white shirt for a classic yet versatile vibe
Every closet needs this classic, but this right now, the simple white shirt will especially be your go-to. And if you’re looking for ways to dress to look younger, a clean, crisp white shirt is your champion. It’s a piece that can be worn a gazillion ways and always looks classy. Top off your jeans during the day for a cool vibe, pair it with black trousers or faux-leather pants, heels and a bold necklace for an evening look, or tie the tails or tuck it into a pencil skirt—it’s that one piece that just keeps on giving. This season, look for a fit that loosely drapes over the tummy and lands around the hips.
Rock a brooch, the classic old-school accessory
These romantic fashion accessories are making a comeback, and I adore everything about them—the vintage hit, the ability to go bold or subtle, the creative ways to wear them. They’re a finishing touch that gives you so many options for looking tailored and unique, especially since you can choose brooches that resonate with your personal style. Maybe that’s ornate, floral, geometric, big and bold, teeny-tiny or even something that highlights your zodiac sign. Simply pin one to your blazer lapel, use it to hold a scarf together, or add a pretty pop to a simple, solid dress.
About the expert
- Jacqui Stafford is a stylist and TV personality. She is also the author of the bestselling style bible The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget.