Let's play a game. For five minutes put your athleisure stuff and sneakers on the back burner. Now pretend you're feeling nostalgic about tailored clothes, chunky sweaters and real shoes. It's the only way to look at this fall's trends and not keep saying, “I wore that in the ‘70s/'80s/'90s.” Throwback style seems new to younger women, but those of us who lived through those decades wonder if these trends are silly or a super buy. The answer is silly if you pick the wrong trends; super if you choose the right ones. Here are 10 worth a look and why.
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PHOTO BY: DSW (2); 6pm
Take my advice and start at the bottom. New shoes are the easiest update for any wardrobe, and loafers — believe it or not — are now the coolest choice. While tapered loafer flats are still a valid choice for a classic look, try an embossed croc style like the Nine West Owlia in Brown ($42, 6pm.com). For a trendier look, choose a chubby loafer with a gutsy lug sole like the Franco Sarto Carol Loafer in Taupe/Stone or Black ($109, dsw.com). The sturdy silhouette and grippy rubber bottom are ideal for walking even in rainy weather. For a pump alternative, try a block heel loafer like the LifeStride Hudson Penny Loafer in Black ($60, dsw.com). Not only does it mimic the pricey Gucci and Ferragamo styles, but you'll look as tall and leggy as you did in stilettos — without the pain. Grab your new shoes now since stock at nearly every site (not only these) is low or selling out fast!
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PHOTO BY: Catherines; Target; River Island
2. A chunky cardigan
A cozy cardigan makes transitioning from early fall to chilly days comfy. While we've grown to love long, dusterlike cardigans for coverage, they're not the best choice for layering under coats or jackets. Don't give up on these staples, but consider adding a textured cardigan to your rotation. Blousey styles like the Universal Thread Women's Cardigan in Green or Tan ($30, target.com), River Island Beige Cable Knit Hooded Cardigan ($84, riverisland.com) and the longer Ellos Open Front Waffle Cardigan in Dusty Pink ($60, catherines.com) have a relaxed shape that looks great with pants, jeans or thrown over a midi dress.
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PHOTO BY: River Island; New York & Company; Bloomingdale's
3. Full-length tailored pants
Ankle pants still make perfect sense, but long dress pants have made a comeback. I have to admit the extra length and roomy fit of styles like the New York and Company Tie-Waist Wide-Leg Pant — 7th Avenue in Black ($80, nyandcompany.com), River Island Black Wide leg Trousers ($74, riverisland.com) and Lucy Paris Diane Wide Leg Pants in Black ($88, bloomingdales.com) do feel sophisticated and glam after years of cropped pants ... and the higher waist is a shape-maker for all. Just be sure you're willing to compensate for the extra length and width with a chunky-heeled bootie or loafer, since the leggy flow of this pant is the whole point. Ignore fashion photos of models wearing long, swaggering pants with flat sandals and mules — it doesn't work for real life.
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PHOTO BY: Target; H&M; Uniqlo
4. A knit sweater vest
Apart from outdoor puffer styles, vests always give us a retro feeling. Most likely because we remember them from the 1970s on Diane Keaton in Annie Hall and in the late ‘80s on Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. However, a new category of knit vests in chic neutral colors — such as the H&M Oversized Sweater Vest in Taupe ($25, hm.com), A New Day Women's Crewneck Cable Knit Sweater Vest in Black ($20, target.com) or the Uniqlo Women Side Slit Vest in 34 Brown ($20, uniqlo.com/us) — has a totally modern minimalist look. The straight, relaxed fit and slightly extended shoulder are what does it. Younger women wear them solo over bare arms, but honestly, they're best as layering pieces over an untucked button-down shirt or under a blazer.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Bloomingdale's; Eloquii
5. A fancy chambray shirt
Chambray shirts with ruffles, bows and puffy sleeves are a romantic update on a very practical basic. The Bridgerton-meets-Little House-on-the-Prairie effect updates everything from jeans (yes, a double-denim look is great!) to leather skirts and work pants. While traditional chambray button-downs are also trending, elevated versions like the Eloquii Puff Sleeve Chambray Button Down in Medium Wash ($80, eloquii.com), Who What Wear Women's Ruffle Long Sleeve Button-Down Shirt ($30, target.com) and Lauren Ralph Lauren Chambray Bow Neck Top in Indigo Mist Wash ($100, bloomingdales.com) have a vintage kick straight out of the ‘70s. Try your chambray shirt tucked, untucked or semi-tucked with a blazer and jeans or a cardigan, leggings and knee-high boots.
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PHOTO BY: Amazon; L.L. Bean; Walmart
6. Chunky textured knit sweaters
Let fashion influencers rave about midriff-baring knit tops and clingy bodycon sweater dresses. Just shrug and head for pullovers embellished with new-again cables and crochet, basketweave and bobble textures. Like everything else in throwback fashion, these textured sweaters have a new twist. Look for longer, thigh-length tunics with wide boat-like necklines, such as the L.L. Bean Women's Signature Cotton Fisherman Tunic Sweater in Beige or Navy ($119, llbean.com), Jollycode Women's Long Sleeve Cable Knit Pullover Sweater in Army Green or Khaki ($25-30, amazon.com) and Wodstyle Women's Cable Knitted Jumper Pullover in Rose Red ($25, walmart.com). Here's a hint: Go up a size for a more oversize, slouchy effect if that's your preferred look with leggings or slim jeans.
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PHOTO BY: Catherines; Target; Old Navy
7. Colors of the moment
Anything you wear — even the most classic or basic item — immediately looks trendier in a this-season color. There are three ways to go. If you're into neutrals try a warm brown, tan or beige like the Old Navy Vintage Long-Sleeve Garment-Dyed French-Terry Tunic Sweatshirt for Women in Bourbon ($35, oldnavy.gap.com) instead of cool black, gray and navy. If you want a pop of color to brighten your current wardrobe, try a bold pink like the A New Day Women's V-Neck Pullover Sweater in Dark Pink ($20, target.com) instead of red. If you prefer pastels try lilac, mauve or lavender like the Ellos Tie Neck Peasant Tunic in Dark Lavender ($45, catherines.com).
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PHOTO BY: Lane Bryant; Target; Mango; Eloquii
8. Faux leather pants
We like having a little edge at 50-plus. So if you're wondering what's next after black leather biker jackets, here's the answer: tailored pants in faux leather that give any dress-casual wardrobe attitude. You can switch up your pants game (and give your jeans and joggers a break) with a pair of faux leather trousers — like A New Day Women's High-Rise Faux Leather Pull-on Pants ($20, target.com) with an elastic waist, the Lane Bryant Faux Leather Wide-Leg Pant in Black ($70, lanebryant.com) with a flat front and a zip fly, and the Eloquii Tie Waist Wide Leg Faux Leather Pant in Black ($105, eloquii.com) for a polished look — or upgrade your joggers with the Mango Faux Leather Pants in Black, Plus-Size ($80, shop.mango.com/us) with an elastic drawstring waist, roomy thighs and a tapered leg.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy; Eloquii
9. Loose-fitting jeans
While features like higher waists, vintage washes and raw hems have given our skinnies and bootcuts an update, relaxed jeans cut looser — hips to hem — are worth checking out. However, pass on jeans labeled mom, barrel or paper bag. The balloon-like fit at the hips and thighs don't do mature bodies and bellies any favors. Instead, try a pair with straight legs like Old Navy Extra High-Waisted Dark Wash Wide-Leg jeans for Women in Trisha ($40, oldnavy.gap.com) or Eloquii Wide Leg Jean in Light Wash ($100, eloquii.com) for a more extreme style statement. You'll still get enough body definition from the trim fit at the waist, hips and tummy.
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PHOTO BY: Lane Bryant; Target (2)
10. Fringed Wraps and Ponchos
This under-the-radar trend is popping up in malls and boutiques but hasn't been getting big social media attention ... yet. It hits the fringe trend, too, but the real value here is the ability to layer over anything — and look great while doing so — from chunky sweaters to blazers and midi dresses. Try the Lane Bryant Checkered Poncho with Hood ($80, lanebryant.com), Universal Thread Stripe Wrap Jacket in Rust ($28, target.com) or White Mark Women's Three Quarter Sleeve V-Neck Wrap Sweater in Pink ($37, target.com) with handy pockets before the big freeze.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.
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