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9 Top Style Updates for Fall

New staples to add a little ‘wow’ to your wardrobe

Woman doing window shopping
Kentaroo Tryman/Maskot/Getty Images

White tank tops, floor-sweeping hemlines and oversize moto jackets are selling like hotcakes. At least that’s what retail stores and fashion sites say as they butter up shoppers for a fall splurge. I beg to differ. Many 50-plus women gave their ’70s dirt-collecting maxis and ’80s Top Gun bombers to Goodwill long ago and have no plans to wear a white tank in January — except under a cozy sweater.

Keep looking. There are some very wearable updates that are worth the investment. Here are the top nine, plus a little extra guidance for men.

1. Wider, looser jeans

(Left to right) Maeve Plus The Jada High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans in Denim Dark; Wit & Wisdom Ab-Solution Wide Leg Jeans in Gy-Grey; L.L. Bean Women’s 207 Vintage Jeans Wide-Leg in Faded Indigo
(Left to right) Maeve Plus The Jada High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans in Denim Dark; Wit & Wisdom Ab-Solution Wide Leg Jeans in Gy-Grey; L.L. Bean Women’s 207 Vintage Jeans Wide-Leg in Faded Indigo
Anthropologie; Nordstrom; L.L. Bean

If you’ve been hanging on to skinny jeans and resisting the roomy jeans trend, this is the moment to jump in. Those wanting a classic look can try a relaxed straight cut, boot cut or flared jean. However, for a stylish leap forward, try a wide-leg style like the Maeve Plus The Jada High-Rise Wide-Leg Jeans in Denim Dark ($140, anthropologie.com), L.L. Bean Women’s 207 Vintage Jeans Wide-Leg in Faded Indigo ($89, llbean.com) or the Wit & Wisdom Ab-Solution Wide Leg Jeans in Gy-Grey ($88, nordstrom.com). You just might give those skinnies to Goodwill for good.

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2. Loafers with attitude

(Clockwise from left) Karl Lagerfeld Paris Women’s Avah Loafer Flats in Black; Sam Edelman Loraine Loafer in Cocoa Bronze; Old Navy Faux Leather Chunky-Heel Loafer Shoes for Women in Royal Burgundy; Sam & Libby Women’s Remi Lug Sole Loafer in Black
(Clockwise from left) Karl Lagerfeld Paris Women’s Avah Loafer Flats in Black; Sam Edelman Loraine Loafer in Cocoa Bronze; Old Navy Faux Leather Chunky-Heel Loafer Shoes for Women in Royal Burgundy; Sam & Libby Women’s Remi Lug Sole Loafer in Black
Macy's; Zappos; Old Navy; Walmart

Loafers started life as a preppy basic but have gained fashion cred lately. Think of this season’s loafers as a sturdier, more supportive alternative to ballet flats. Choose a slim, tapered style in an unexpected color like the Sam Edelman Loraine Loafer in Cocoa Bronze or Raspberry ($150, zappos.com), or dial up the trendiness with a husky pair like the Old Navy Faux Leather Chunky-Heel Loafer Shoes for Women in Royal Burgundy or Blackjack ($40, oldnavy.gap.com), Karl Lagerfeld Paris Women’s Avah Loafer Flats in Black ($139, macys.com) with a little bling, or Sam & Libby Women’s Remi Lug Sole Loafer in Black ($35, walmart.com). Carrie Bradshaw might not approve, but do we care?

3. A wear-with-boots dress

(Left to right) Frye and Co Women’s Plus Long Sleeve Midi Boho Dress in Floral Combo; & Other Stories Mock Neck Midi Dress in Grey; LifeStride Bristol in Stone Grey; Eloquii Elements Women’s Plus Size Long Funnel Neck Sweater Dress in Rhubarb; Gap Tiered Tie-Waist Midi Dress in Black
(Left to right) Frye and Co Women’s Plus Long Sleeve Midi Boho Dress; & Other Stories Mock Neck Midi Dress; LifeStride Bristol in Stone Grey; Eloquii Elements Women’s Plus Size Long Funnel Neck Sweater Dress; Gap Tiered Tie-Waist Midi Dress in Black
JCPenney; & Other Stories; Zappos; Walmart; Gap

How many times have you reached for a dress on a chilly day and wished it looked OK with your winter boots? The problem is that dresses that are too short or too tailored have the wrong proportions and style for boots. Leave the minidress-and-boot pairing to millennials, and get yourself a mid-calf sweater dress like the & Other Stories Mock Neck Midi Dress in Grey ($119, stories.com/en_usd) and Eloquii Elements Women’s Plus Size Long Funnel Neck Sweater Dress in Rhubarb or Arabian Spice ($30, walmart.com) or a flowy midi-length style like the Frye and Co Women’s Plus Long Sleeve Midi Boho Dress in Floral Combo ($86, jcpenney.com) and the Gap Tiered Tie-Waist Midi Dress in Black ($88, gap.com) to give your booties and boots, such as these LifeStride Bristol in Stone Grey ($120, zappos.com), a kick in the right direction.

4. A leather or suede skirt

(Left to right) River Island Women’s Brown Faux Leather Pleated Midi Skirt; Eva Franco Faux Leather Midi Skirt in Brown; Coldwater Creek Faux-Suede Skirt
(Left to right) River Island Women’s Brown Faux Leather Pleated Midi Skirt; Eva Franco Faux Leather Midi Skirt in Brown; Coldwater Creek Faux-Suede Skirt
River Island; Anthropologie; Coldwater Creek

Leather and its softer sister suede (fakes, of course) are the new power fabrics. They make women feel confident, sexy and strong. A midi style like the River Island Women’s Brown Faux Leather Pleated Midi Skirt ($84, riverisland.com/us), Eva Franco Faux Leather Midi Skirt in Brown ($158, anthropologie.com) or Coldwater Creek Faux-Suede Skirt ($100–$110, coldwatercreek.com) in a rich neutral is one of the best choices for those who prefer classic clothes, want to update a skimpy wardrobe or find a super-versatile alternative to pants or jeans that goes from day to night with a change of top. Just stick to A-line or pleated, and skip the slim-fitting pencil style. This is a worthy splurge you won’t regret.

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5. A blue sweater

(Left to right) Astylish Women’s Open Front Chunky Knit Cardigan in E Royal Blue; Universal Standard Essential Cashmere Crew in Royal Blue; Zara Extra Soft 100 % Wool Sweater in Blue
(Left to right) Astylish Women’s Open Front Chunky Knit Cardigan in E Royal Blue; Universal Standard Essential Cashmere Crew in Royal Blue; Zara Extra Soft 100 % Wool Sweater in Blue
Amazon; Universal Standard; Zara

Buying yet another black sweater is never a bad idea, but a pop of color makes a personal statement and brightens your look and mood. Influencers may suggest pink or lavender, but blue is your best bet. It’s always classy, not only in navy but in every shade from powder blue to royal to cobalt. Team a luxurious cashmere like the Universal Standard Essential Cashmere Crew in Royal Blue ($98, universalstandard.com), a chunky cardigan like the Astylish Women’s Open Front Chunky Knit Cardigan in E Royal Blue ($39, amazon.com) or the relaxed Zara Extra Soft 100 % Wool Sweater in Blue ($69, zara.com/us) with blue jeans, and you have a pulled-together monochromatic look in two minutes.

6. A chic shirt-jacket

(Left to right) Black Tape Women’s Quilted Light Puffer Shacket in Khaki; J. Crew Women’s Quilted Lightweight Shirt-Jacket in Mossy Grove; Madewell Airpuff Shirt-Jacket in Warm Coffee
(Left to right) Black Tape Women’s Quilted Light Puffer Shacket in Khaki; J. Crew Women’s Quilted Lightweight Shirt-Jacket in Mossy Grove; Madewell Airpuff Shirt-Jacket in Warm Coffee
Macy's; J. Crew; Madewell

Known in fashion-speak as a “shacket,” this layering piece has evolved from last year’s breakout performance. Skip the casual plaid versions, and opt for a more polished (and substantial) quilted style like the Madewell Airpuff Shirt-Jacket in Warm Coffee ($188, madewell.com), J. Crew Women’s Quilted Lightweight Shirt-Jacket in Mossy Grove ($134, jcrew.com) and the Black Tape Women’s Quilted Light Puffer Shacket in Khaki ($89, macys.com). Think of it as the cool update to a traditional denim or barn jacket to throw on during transitional weather, for travel and over your favorite sweaters for additional warmth.

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7. A leggings replacement

(Left to right) Zella Luxe Wide Leg Pocket Pants in Black; Spanx On The Go Ankle Slim Straight Pant in Classic Navy; Sofia Vergara Women’s High Waist Studio Fit and Flare Pant in Navy; Chico’s Faux Leather Crops in Cherry Brunette
(Left to right) Zella Luxe Wide Leg Pocket Pants in Black; Spanx On The Go Ankle Slim Straight Pant in Classic Navy; Sofia Vergara Women’s High Waist Studio Fit and Flare Pant in Navy; Chico’s Faux Leather Crops in Cherry Brunette
Nordstrom; Spanx; Walmart; Chico's

Black leggings have become a wardrobe staple women depend on to create a narrow base for layers and longer, wider, fuller tops or jackets. You can’t have too much of a good thing, but you can elevate this basic. Keep the dependable flat fronts and trim lines going, but consider a flared leg like the Sofia Vergara Women’s High Waist Studio Fit and Flare Pant in Chicory Brown, Navy, Gray and Black ($25, walmart.com) or a thicker knit that simulates pants like the Zella Luxe Wide Leg Pocket Pants in Black ($79, nordstrom.com) or Spanx On The Go Ankle Slim Straight Pant in Classic Navy or Classic Black ($128, spanx.com). If you’re really ready to move on, try leather pull-ons like the Chico’s Faux Leather Crops in Cherry Brunette ($119, chicos.com).

8. Real pants

(Left to right) Vince Camuto Washer Twill Wide Leg Pants in Rich Black; T Tahari Cropped Wide Leg Pants in Bali Taupe; Ann Taylor The Belted High Waist Taper Pant in Black; A New Day Women’s High Rise Faux Leather Tapered Ankle Pants in Brown
(Left to right) Vince Camuto Washer Twill Wide Leg Pants in Rich Black; T Tahari Cropped Wide Leg Pants in Bali Taupe; Ann Taylor The Belted High Waist Taper Pant in Black; A New Day Women’s High Rise Faux Leather Tapered Ankle Pants in Brown
Bloomingdale's (2); Ann Taylor; Target

Tailored pants complete with zippers, pleats, belt loops and Katharine Hepburn–like swagger are something many women said they never wanted to wear again. So why bother looking? Despite our love of leggings, joggers and jeans, real pants make us feel dressed up even with a tee and sneakers. Many of the old issues are gone, and new features like higher rises, partial- or full-elastic waists, smooth itch-free fabrics with a hint of stretch and ankle lengths make sense for no-more-heels lifestyles. Choose an almost A-line culotte style like the T Tahari Cropped Wide Leg Pants in Bali Taupe ($128, bloomingdales.com) or Vince Camuto Washer Twill Wide Leg Pants in Rich Black ($109, bloomingdales.com) for width at the hem, not the belly, or a tapered leg for a relaxed but shapely fit like the A New Day Women’s High Rise Faux Leather Tapered Ankle Pants in Brown ($30, target.com) or Ann Taylor The Belted High Waist Taper Pant in Black ($109, anntaylor.com).

9. An updated blazer

(Left to right) Eloquii Elements Women’s Plus Size Faux Leather Blazer in Sand; Talbots Tweed Jacket in Ivory; Hybrid and Co Women’s Elegant Ponte Blazer Jacket in Jk1135-red; Old Navy Soft-Brushed Oversized Blazer for Women in Blk Donegal
(Left to right) Eloquii Elements Women’s Plus Size Faux Leather Blazer in Sand; Talbots Tweed Jacket in Ivory; Hybrid and Co Women’s Elegant Ponte Blazer Jacket in Jk1135-red; Old Navy Soft-Brushed Oversized Blazer for Women in Blk Donegal
Walmart; Talbots; Amazon; Old Navy

I bet you still have some old boxy or big-shouldered blazers hanging out in the closet … and for good reason. The firm, sleek lines make everything and anything look posh or professional, and improved fits (thanks to stretch), non-seasonal fabric blends and fresh colors and tweeds make this a smart new buy. Try an elongated oversize style with drop shoulders like the Old Navy Soft-Brushed Oversized Blazer for Women in Blk Donegal ($80, oldnavy.gap.com), an elegant piped look like the Talbots Tweed Jacket in Ivory ($199, talbots.com), a cool leather version like the Eloquii Elements Women’s Plus Size Faux Leather Blazer in Sand ($45, walmart.com) or a lightweight knit with subtle shaping like the Hybrid and Co Women’s Elegant Ponte Blazer Jacket in Jk1135-red or Jk1135-coral ($34, amazon.com) that won’t leave you sweating in overheated workplaces.

Bonus: Edgier Basics for Him

Goodfellow & Co Men’s Bomber Jacket in Gray (left); Aldo Faulkner Chukka Boot in Black (top middle); Open Edit Faux Leather Baseball Cap in Black (middle); Skechers GOWalk Arch Fit Seltos Sneakers in Black (bottom middle); Gap Men Recycled Bomber Jacket in Black Moss (right)
Goodfellow & Co Men’s Bomber Jacket in Gray (left); Aldo Faulkner Chukka Boot in Black (top middle); Open Edit Faux Leather Baseball Cap in Black (middle); Skechers GOWalk Arch Fit Seltos Sneakers (bottom middle); Gap Men Recycled Bomber Jacket (right)
Target; Nordstrom (3); Gap

Men over 50 don’t generally follow trends or update their wardrobes seasonally the way women do. Still, fall is the perfect time to tweak his favorites. This year, bomber jackets like the Gap Men Recycled Bomber Jacket in Black Moss ($88, gap.com) or Goodfellow & Co Men’s Bomber Jacket in Gray ($40, target.com) are a cool alternative to the leather moto style he’s been living in. Add some inky dark shoes and sneakers like the Aldo Faulkner Chukka Boot in Black ($160, nordstrom.com) or Skechers GOWalk Arch Fit Seltos Sneakers in Black ($80, nordstrom.com) and a black leather baseball cap like the Open Edit Faux Leather Baseball Cap in Black ($39, nordstrom.com), and he’s good to go till the first snow.