How I Shop My Closet to Embrace Fall Fashion Trends

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I have a bunch of half-completed posts going into fall fashion trends that have been delayed as I am trying to get caught up after my eye surgery. They're coming, but to make an easy low-research post to get your fall sartorial juices flowing, I thought I'd share my thoughts on fall trends, and how I am shopping my closet and reworking what I have to embrace fall trends.

How I Shop My Closet to Embrace Fall Fashion Trends

Wearing Cardigans like Pullovers

Remember in the 2010's when bloggers were like, “Wear a cardigan 56 ways!” and they'd take that cardigan and twist it and button it up the back and turn it upside down to make different looks and most of the versions just looked like a twisted backwards cardigan sweater? Yeah, I am not talking about that.

I am talking about buttoning your cardigan all the way up and wearing the buttons down the front like it was intended. Especially with v-neck cardigans, I am doing that and somehow it feels cooler than a regular v-neck sweater. I've also done it with round neck cardigans, and it gives a bit of that lady jacket trend that is hot right now.

What do you wear under the cardigan? Well, since it's buttoned up whatever you want. I like choosing a tank or cami or scoop tee that is low enough that none or only a hint of it shows in the neckline. I also like it over a striped Breton top. And come colder weather, I may play with lightweight fitted turtlenecks.

I'm folding under the hem so it looks tucked in but not tucked, and for some I've used a Beltaway to fake a tuck (see this video for what I'm talking about). This fall, most cardigans, especially lighter weight ones are shorter, like waist to hip so a Beltaway or a tuck is a way to make your older cardigans look hip.

For more about cardigans, check out my post about what cardigans are in style for 2023.

Getting Crafty and Embracing Street Style

I don't mean arts and crafts crafty, but crafty in going outside the box with my closet and using things in unconventional ways. I've seen some fashion sites call this Vivienne Westwood inspiration, some call it Street Style inspiration. But it's that whole “fashion is fluid” trend of 2023 where you're encouraged to have some fun and get a little weird and unexpected.

The one I am finding the easiest to do without shopping is picking the most random shoe for an outfit. We've done this before with sneakers with dresses and pop of color shoes that don't quite match, but this is taking it further. I saw a TikTok (I can't find it) where a woman had a black, white, and red outfit. It would have looked chic with a black heeled ankle bootie, but instead she wore these lime square toe strappy sandals with a block heel that weren't the right season or the right color and somehow they felt right.

This weekend, I wore a new cashmere sweater I bought in one of my favorite colors (a pale highlighter yellow-green). The sweater is perfection but the cuffs are a bit long for my short self. I usually fold over cuffs but these cuffs were split so they wouldn't stay folded. I looked at them and thought… it looks like a shirt awaiting a pair of cufflinks… I have cufflinks. I wonder if I can weave them through the knit of the sweater without damaging it.

When searching for my dad's cufflinks I came across this pair of silver and rhinestone circle pins I got… I don't know where, maybe Etsy? A vintage shop? eBay? Anyway, they're like the size of a nickel and I used to wear them on the points of my denim jacket collar and occasionally on the collar of shirts. And I was like… those would look like cufflinks and not be as damaging.

So I brought the edges of the cuff together and pinned them with the pins and it worked and it looked cool and it ended up inspiring the rest of the look. Instead of gold jewelry I did silver and I added a sparkly ring even though it was daytime.

I've been playing a lot with scarves. All summer I wore them as belts but now I am playing with weaving them through button holes, tying in my hair, having them peek out of necklines and seeing how I can use them in unconventional ways.

Mixing High and Low, Dressy and Casual

This has been a trend happening in the street style scene for a while but it's come to the mainstream. The quickest way to look like you're from Frumptown in 2023 is to be overly matchy matchy and put together. I know, this is hard to accept as we have spent our entire life being told if we're perfectly pressed and polished with our bag matching our shoes, creating that column of color, everything casual or everything dressy or everything the same fabric or the same color story or the same brand we'll be stylish. But it's 2023, the world is on fire, and it's time to break style rules in the name of fashion.

That luxe cashmere sweater with the rhinestone “cufflinks”? I wore it once with wide-leg chinos that were wrinkled so much it looked purposeful and I really liked the juxtaposition. On my feet, I wore my red Birkenstocks because I like a pop of color and I loved the idea of wearing a fancy pave cocktail ring with the pair. And the next time I wore that sweater, I wore it over a pair of Universal Standard Sunny shorts in the same highlighter color, with my HOKA sneakers that have the same color sole, and on my head a lavender canvas baseball cap. Both times… orange lipstick.

Now I am a “clean” style person. I like solids over prints, metals over beading and other jewelry textiles, and I love a good mix of colors. But this fall it feels right to go a little left of center, mixing cashmere with athletic shorts or really wrinkled chinos, rhinestones with Birkenstocks, and a lavender baseball cap because I like the color and I really don't like how my curls are acting that morning.

I have a slightly cropped Nike sweatshirt that is the most delightful shade of orange, the brand's swoosh embroidered in white in right over my collarbone. I've worn it with athletic shorts, with leggings… but the other day I tried it on with a sequin midi-length straight skirt I own, and dang if I didn't like the combination. I was torn between wearing my magenta suede heeled sandals or my Adidas Forum Bolds (which are my wider feet version of Air Force 1s), but the dressy/casual combo felt really fresh.

Adding Gold Buttons to My Coats and Cardigans

The lady jacket is back, and once I'm healed I'll finish my post about the trend. But you'll see a LOT of collarless jackets and cardigans that hit waist to high hip and have trademark gold buttons down the front and closing pockets. And this gold button trend has extended to blazers, coats, and cardigans.

I bought a gray “boyfriend” cardigan with sequins all over it from J. Crew on final sale. It's heavyweight, has patch pockets, and though it's a cool silver yarn with silver sequins, the buttons are gold with little crests on them a la lady jackets. And this juxtaposition is so darn cool, it's inspiring me to switch out some buttons on other pieces I own.

These buttons are always for sale at places like JoAnn in a range of sizes. I'm thinking of some of my Universal Standard blazers that would get a glow-up with a button switch. I'll keep the old buttons (and label them so I know what they go to) but I think I'll be playing with gold buttons this fall to update my existing closet.

Taking My Clothes to the Tailor for a New Fit

I started trying on a bunch of my fall and winter clothes and while they fit, they are… meh. A bit shapeless, a bit dated, a bit uninspiring. I plan to take a few to the tailor for a little nip and tuck. I have a pair of cropped pants with a very wide hem I think I'll have made full-length. Also a pair of cargo pants I own would look really modern if the leg was tapered or the cuff elasticized. And a shirt I like but rarely wear because it's so long… I may have it cut off an inch below my waistband with a straight hem to give it a modern touch.

Like, why not? It's silly to keep perfectly good things in our closets if they're not enjoyable to wear. And if I tire of the shirt being straight and cropped, maybe by then the trend will change and I can alter it again for a third life. Short sleeves? Band collar? Maybe a mixed media effect with a different shirt's tails sewn on. Heck, maybe all it needs is some gold buttons!

Stay tuned, I will be delving into fall fashion trends and which ones I think are best for us grown women, which ones beyond these I may be adopting, and especially will be discussing shoes and which styles remain chic and which ones work best with this season's hemlines and silhouettes. Thank you for your patience!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I love the idea of mixing and matching textures. And the gold buttons? Good to hear they are in style as I have a lovely long red cardigan/dress with gold buttons that I was iffy on…. but now I’m looking forward to styling it several ways! Thank you again!

  2. LOVE this kind of post! I would like to shop my closet more often and figure out how to breathe new life into things I love but now look a bit dated. Or maybe its the way I wear them that is dated. Either way, I need help with seeing things differently and this article is perfect.
    Any ideas on how to make those structured short blazers of my pre-cOVID corporate past look less stuffy?
    Thanks as always and take care!

  3. Such a great and helpful post! Funny on the cardigan front. I had an older, Banana Republic one I was thinking of donating recently. I just added a pair of the newish barrel shaped pants. That old cardigan? It looks amazing and quite fresh as a shirt, with the buttons in the back.

    And as I’ve been drooling over the wonderful, gold button items at J Crew this year, I think I can update a couple of existing items with the addition of some gold, nautical-themed buttons.

    Thanks, Alison!

    PS — Hope your recovery is going well.

  4. Love this! Hearing about how to mix and match this season items with pieces already in my closet and with a fresh twist like updated buttons is exactly what I need!

  5. oh, my!! If ever I needed a point of inspiration for a new attitude toward fall fashion you offered it, in spades.Your phrase “a little left of center” just hit me. I’ve been excessively neat (pressed, mended) and matched/coordinated my whole life.The “permission” to leave my house UNcoordinated feels like soaring. I am 74, large, fashion loving, and I’ve always been noticed when I enter into a room or walk down the street. But, I’ve felt left behind by my self imposed strictures, and I think I’m ready to have some fun. Thank you very much.

  6. Love your idea of using jewelry as cuff links. I have several open front EF cardigans I close with two large (faux) pearl earrings — it’s super easy and stays all day, with no damage to the knit fabric. I do use the wide plastic earring backs for extra support.

    1. It’s frustrating when you run onto a nicely designed sweat shirt like that Nike fleece, and it’s got a logo plastered right in the middle of it. I would be thinking about pinning a brooch over that Nike swoosh right at your collar. If you have something that’s horizontal it would cover that logo right up.

      Little costume jewelry pins are very useful for things you might otherwise be sticking a safety pin into to hold in place — and you don’t have to try and hide them because they’re decorative.

      1. I don’t mind the swoosh, I think some folks find some logos a decorative touch. HAve you seen the film Air? It made me more of a Nike fan. The shoes don’t fit my shape of foot, but I like their apparel!

  7. I loved your point about wearing a cardigan every which way. It reminded me of a cardigan I had years ago that I loved (it finally succumbed to holes). It was round-necked, fairly short, and was wool, cashmere and silk and was partly pale pink, partly magenta and partly deep red. Anyway, one day I was wearing it at home, buttoned up, and after about three hours I realised that it wasn’t quite comfortable. So I inspected. I was wearing it upside down!

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