A drawing of fall fashion shows clothes floating against a blue background
Illustration by Tiphany Jackson, The University of the Arts
Thoughts x
A drawing of fall fashion shows clothes floating against a blue background
Illustration by Tiphany Jackson, The University of the Arts

As the weather begins to cool down, new style guidelines are starting to warm up, for better or for worse.

This past spring and summer saw the emergence of many fashion microtrends that quickly spiked and fell. From certain patterns to fabric cuts to jewelry, many summer styles will be left behind in the upcoming cold months. Already, many stores are stocking warmer clothing alongside fashion styles that harken back to the ‘90s and 2000s. Additionally, completely new looks are being introduced as well. Many trends are fading out as a few fresh ones are starting to thrive — will these new trends last longer than the passing ones?

Trends That Are Falling Behind

While it may seem difficult to guess what clothing and accessory items will be popular in the future, the cycles and trends of the fashion industry can be easy to track. Many high-status names in fashion release their fall trend predictions in mid to late summer in order to create excitement and draw attention to particular items. The summer fashion scene saw many short-lived trends that won’t survive beyond a few months. With the massive manufacturing capacity of the clothing industry, it is now easier than ever to order clothes online and have them at your door within days. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping skyrocketed. Not only did in-store closures force consumers to gravitate to online ordering, but social media trends introduced the “microtrend” in fashion.

For those unfamiliar with the new fashion term, a microtrend can be defined as “a style or item of clothing that explodes in popularity, only for it to become old news a month later.” Loud psychedelic print, puffy “cottagecore” items, patterned crochet tops and large acrylic rings all received viral attention on TikTok, spread across stores everywhere and now flood sale sections and thrift stores. However, there are notable negatives to microtrend cycles. First, they encourage overspending on items with a short shelf life, socially speaking. Second, they worsen the damage of the fast fashion industry and harm the environment as well as exploit workers. Third, they perpetuate an idea of “right clothing” and “wrong clothing” that shifts weekly or even daily.

Thankfully, the end of the summer has seen a halt in the continuing cycle of fashion micro-trends, with many consumers now aware of the wasteful loop. Microtrends thrive in the summer months thanks to the summertime popularity of bright colors, loud patterns and flashy accessories, and as we move toward autumn, we move toward new fashion cycles.

The Return of Trends

According to Vogue Magazine, some of the specific items that will gain popularity in the fall are leather jackets, baggy jeans and loafers. The surfacing of “preppy punk” is bringing back more plaid skirts, knee socks, combat boots and black layers. Ultimately, a mix of form-fitting clothing and oversized wear that blends trends from the ‘90s and 2000s will be considered in style. The re-emergence of certain trends is no surprise, as it is a general rule in fashion that trends repeat every 20 to 30 years.

The grungy styles and colors of the ‘90s are returning just in time for fall: Instead of centering on standout pieces, fall fashion lends itself to more staple-based outfits, including solid-colored cardigans, jeans, sweaters, turtlenecks and leather. These items take principal roles in the fall and generally come in muted or neutral colors that can be worn in more combinations and therefore discarded less frequently. Due to the weather in colder months, fall and winter fashion also prioritizes function and uses accessories to spice up outfits. Hats, scarves, shoes and puffy jackets are where color and variety are expected this season.

Along with the popularity of boots, the longstanding Converse shoe will be seen on many feet. Jewel-toned blues and greens along with pops of brighter yellow will add a lighter feel to the darker outfits. ‘90s influences will be seen with chains added to clothes, very long sleeves and mesh materials. Trends from the 2000s will include baby-doll tees and zip-ups, along with tighter-fitting silhouettes.

Fashion Trend Criticism

While the return of trends from past years is a natural cycle in fashion, many aren’t so pleased with the reappearing ‘90s and 2000s trends. In recent years, fashion has shown greater acceptance of different body types and sizes, in contrast to more vintage clothing items that were geared toward a specific look. The form-fitting silhouettes that are returning feature low-rise pants, clinging dresses and tighter material, which have all been criticized for bringing back the negative ideals of an earlier time period.

While a certain “body type” is considered “in style” now, the ‘90s and 2000s idolized taller figures with thinner waistlines, especially women. Bringing back clothing made with that idealized, very specific frame in mind is damaging unless the fall fashion trends are reimagined to flatter everyone. Linking fashion trends to only certain body types creates the idea that body types are trendy and one day your figure will be seen as desirable and one day it may not. Severing the “ideal body” from our ever-changing fashion is essential to demonstrate that bodies are not trends and should neither be idolized nor condemned.

The Bottom Line

Fall will bring back classic looks while hopefully leaving negative habits in the past. The return of more staple items and cozy colors will surely bring some great outfits, and new trends are certain to develop over time. However, it is important to only give a reasonable amount of attention to fashion as there are bigger repercussions to overvaluing clothing. The most important lesson is to see clothing as a form of self-expression, and above all, have fun with what you wear.

Writer Profile

Vanessa Rivera

James Madison University
Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication (WRTC) and a minor in Creative Writing

Vanessa is a writing, rhetoric and technical communication major and creative writing minor at James Madison University in Virginia. When she’s not reading and writing she loves baking and making long Spotify playlists.

Leave a Reply