Fall/Winter Fashion

Fall Wardrobe Essentials 2021

One of my most popular blog posts each year is my Fall Wardrobe Essentials, so today I’m posting an update for 2021. This is a list of shoes, clothing, and accessories that make a functional fall wardrobe.

I realize it’s August, but I’m going to be shifting my focus to fall fashion this month because everyone is pretty much set for summer at this point. If you’re a planner, I hope this post is helpful as you inventory your closet and make your shopping list for fall. And if you’re not ready to think fall just yet, maybe you want to bookmark this post for future reference!

2021 Fall Wardrobe Essentials

When putting together a list like this, I always hesitate to use words like “essentials” and “must-haves” because each woman is different and has different wardrobe needs. My best advice is to take this list with a grain of salt — consider your climate, lifestyle, and personal style aesthetic when determining what you actually NEED to add to your closet.

1. Boots

Ankle boots are still trending for 2021, and we’re seeing a lot of Chelsea boots and lug soles, but fashion boots still have their place. Western-inspired styles are also having a moment this season.

It’s important to take your climate and lifestyle into consideration when purchasing fall boots. Fall and winter weather can be messy here in Philly, so while suede is definitely trending, I like to have some leather options as well. Also, more and more brands are making weather-proof suede boots, and they’re well worth the investment if you live in an area with messy winter weather.

2. Jeans

jeans // similar jeans // jeans

When getting dressed in the morning, nine times out of ten, I reach for a pair of jeans. They work well for my casual lifestyle, and I find them most comfortable. Because I wear them so much, I like to have a variety of styles and washes. But even if you only wear jeans on weekends and the occasional date night, a great fitting pair of jeans is a wardrobe item almost every woman should have in her closet.

Denim trends are in transition right now, but I’m seeing a little bit of everything. I recommend wearing the style(s) that looks best on you and experiment with the newer trendy cuts if you enjoy doing so. Straighter, more relaxed silhouettes are getting more popular, and I’m seeing a mix of cropped and full length styles. Skinny jeans still have their place, but I recommend mixing it up to stay current. Also, consider adding a lighter wash to your lineup, if you haven’t already.

3. Sweaters

similar sweater // sweater // cardigan

In my opinion, there’s nothing better to top off a great pair of jeans than a soft, cozy sweater. If you wear a lot of sweaters, as I do, you’ll probably want a variety of colors and styles to choose from. Pullovers are super easy to throw on and go, but cardigans allow you to layer and accommodate a variety of temperatures. This fall, neutrals are still on trend, but I’m seeing more color coming into play as well.

I’m seeing more shorter, cropped sweaters that are great for pairing with high rise jeans, but there are plenty of traditional lengths available as well. Also, consider adding a sweater vest to your closet this fall. They’re very much on trend.

4. Base Layers

sweater // similar cami // t-shirt

Base layers include anything from tanks and tees, to camis and blouses, and even thin sweaters if you live in a colder climate. Most of these can play double duty — wear them alone with a skirts or jeans for now, and then add a completer piece when the weather cools down. Here in Philly, it can be downright hot well into October, so I often wear short-sleeved tees and tops with a completer piece (denim jacket or cardigan) on top until it gets cold enough for chunky sweaters.

I make sure to have a few basic t-shirts in different solid colors and stripes, as well as some blouses and camis. Prints are fun, and a nice way to inject some personality into your outfits. I also like to have a good variety of classic crewneck, turtleneck, and v-neck sweaters that work well as base layers under moto jackets when it gets chilly.

5. Completer Pieces

utility jacket // denim jacket (similar) // moto jacket

My favorite part of fall fashion is all the layering options. When the cooler temperatures start to set in, that’s the time to bring out all of your cute moto jackets, blazers, denim jackets, and cardigans!

Moto jackets are fun for date nights and for toughening up those feminine blouses and dresses, cardigans are nice for the office and for throwing on over a tee or tank with your favorite blue jeans on the weekend, and denim jackets and utility jackets are perfect for wearing over dresses and with colored pants and jeans. Take into account your life and personal style when deciding which styles make the most sense for your wardrobe. I generally like to have more structured pieces, but I also really like a cute bomber jacket.

6. Fashion Sneakers

sneakers // sneakers // sneakers

Fashion sneakers have become a huge trend as of late, thanks to Golden Goose  and Gucci, but there are lots of lower priced brands with great looking sneakers that are also excellent quality. I prefer leather, especially in the winter because they tend to be more weather proof, but suede and canvas styles can be lighter and cooler on the foot. Patterns and prints are a fun way to add interest to an outfit, but there’s always a place for a classic white leather sneaker.

7. Non-Denim Pants

cargo joggers // black pants

If you work in a professional environment or just don’t care to wear jeans every day (I can’t imagine!) then you will need a few pairs of pants to mix and match with the tops in your wardrobe. I always have a pair of basic black trousers in my closet for dressier occasions, and I also like to have a couple pairs of twill cargo pants to mix in from time to time. And let’s face it, some days are made for leggings or joggers.

8. All-Occasion Dress

dress from Boden (older style)

I’m not much of a dress girl, but I still like to have one or two in my closet for each season. In the fall, I recommend transitional styles that you can wear now with bare legs and open toe booties, and continue wearing with tights and boots (and maybe a layer on top) when the temperatures drop. Trends at the moment are florals grounded on dark backgrounds, which I love for fall, and animal prints, of course; but a solid dress in a rich fall shade is always a classic.

9. Outerwear

The North Face jackets // Talbots jackets

If you live in an area with a distinct fall season, a lightweight jacket to throw on over your t-shirts and sweaters is pretty much an essential. I love a good quilted jacket for fall, and an anorak or rain jacket is nice to have. Leather jackets and utility jackets are great outfit makers.

10. Neutral Handbag

leopard tote // convertible backpack // shoulder bag

A fabulous handbag for the season is always a great accessory. If you’re going to carry one main handbag all season, I recommend going for a neutral like taupe or cognac. Black is nice to have too, but it can be harsh and isn’t as versatile as a lighter neutral.

Think about your footwear and choose a neutral tone that goes with most of your shoes and boots. I tend to wear a lot of cool colors like grey, plum, burgundy, and blush; so if I could only choose one handbag, I’d go with grey or taupe. If you gravitate to warmer tones, you may prefer cognac or a warm beige. I like to have some of each, personally, but it’s not necessary to change out your handbags with every outfit to be chic and stylish. To each her own!

11. Seasonal Accessories

cashmere scarf

Finally, don’t forget to update your accessories for the season. In the summertime, like to keep my accessories minimal because it’s so hot, but as the temperatures cool down, I start to bring out my scarves and heavier jewelry.

We aren’t seeing scarves trending so much this season, but it’s always appropriate to break out your knit scarves when it gets cold outside. Jewelry trends right now are layered looks and link styles, and gold seems to be the primary metal, although I like to have a mix of gold and silver in my wardrobe.

Okay, so that’s a wrap. I hope this post is helpful as you start to fill out your fall wardrobe. HAPPY SHOPPING!!!

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14 thoughts on “Fall Wardrobe Essentials 2021

  1. Thank you JoLynne for this post. I always look forward to yor seasonal essentials posts. This helps me with planning my wardrobe for the seasons. That way I don’t have so much stuff in my closet. Now to get to get rid of some shoes, which I dread. My Best Wishes to Caroline for her new Journey coming up. Be strong Mama. She will be fine!! Have a Great Day!!❤😀🌞🌻

  2. Very helpful post!!🙂
    Although the summer is still going strong, especially where I live, I found some very helpful hints to renew my wardrobe taking advantage of the summer sales 😉.
    Thank you for the tips!

  3. Thank you for this review. Fall clothes are my favorite– jeans, a tee or light sweater, a jacket, and boots/booties! The only thing I still want is a pair of lug sole brown-family suede boots. I ordered the brown Louise et Cie twice from the nordy sale and they were both canceled. I’m wondering if I should order them in another color and then exchange them when they are restocked. Anyone else try this?

  4. Thank you! So helpful! And you look fabulous in the black dress pants, camel sweater, black coat and snakeskin pumps!!!

  5. Great post. I order the black spanx pants and they arrived yesterday. 🙂 I just now ordered some cognac booties…they say taupe but they are clearly not taupe. LOL At least I hope they don’t come taupe. I do need to order some base layers for cardigans. I find I like them snugger for fitting under a cardi. Do you? I’m a jeans and sweater gal myself.

  6. The brown leather lug sole boots in the bottom right corner of the collage – where, where, where!?!?

  7. I always enjoy the list of essential items for the upcoming season that you post. It’s good to know that items like scarves aren’t trending. Thanks, Jo-Lynne!

  8. Thank you for this post. It’s gotten me excited to go threw my closet and decide what needs an update or to be added. I’m finally in the mood to shop after about 18 months. I ordered the spanx pants. Fingers crossed that they work out.

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