Incorporating the 2021 Fall Fashion Trends into Your Professional Wardrobe

Cozy sweaters, tall boots, furry vests . . . and bold color blocks?  Fall is upon us and it is arguably the most popular fashion season.  The usual staples all make a comeback this year but there are some unexpected trends that denote the whimsey and longing for a simpler era that we may all be wanting in our precarious times. 

This year’s trend reports overflowed with ideas and inspiration; however, for the purpose of personal branding and keeping within a more “professional” arena I have chosen the top twelve that can be easily incorporated into any work wardrobe.

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Bright Color Blocking.  Depending upon your desired audience this one can be as dramatic or subtle as you wish.  The fashion week runways were filled with boldly colored blazers paired with oppositely colored pants or block print dresses covered in 20 different shades.  If this is your personal brand then go wild.  If you are looking for a more subdued version opt for a neutral palette paired with one brightly colored item such as a jacket or shoes.

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Fringe.  Oversized dramatic fringe draped everything on the runways from sheath dresses to trench coats.  Fringe makes a great fashion statement, but it can be problematic at the office or when you are in and out of the car going to meetings.  If you are more conservative in your wardrobe opt for keeping this trend in your accessories.  Fringe bags, earrings, and necklaces all stay wearable while still adding the trend drama that gets you noticed.

Cutouts.  This one can be tricky.  Too much skin is usually a no in any professional situation.  To their credit most of the designer fashions that featured this trend were in evening wear; a cutout across the shoulder here and a cut out at either side of the waist there.  A charity function or upscale work dinner may be a place this trend fits.  However, I am partial to using it in day wear as an interesting layering piece.  Just because it is meant to show skin does not mean an item has to.  Pair a cutout top with a shimmer tank to show a little pop of fun or double down on the trends by pairing a cutout blazer with a bright colored button down thus showing cutouts and bold color blocking.

Sweater Vests.  That’s right the old staple from the 90’s is back.  This is perhaps the easiest to convert to professional dress.  Pair it the traditional way over a classic button down and trousers or go modern by throwing it on over a lace dress with tennis shoes and that fringe bag you got.  I know is sounds like a lot, but I promise you if the color combination is right, it can look very chic.

Bold Collars.   We have been working our way towards this trend for a couple of years now.  Every year designers have toyed with collars.  Peter Pan collars, Victorian collars, and collar necklaces have all been trends of the past few years.  This year they finally went all in and made them the full star of the shirt show.  This is one you are just going to have to try.  Try different styles and variations of size.  There are no hard and fast rules like “don’t wear a pointed collar if you have high cheek bones” or anything archaic like that.  You either like how it looks or you do not.  Have fun.

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Blush Tones.  Every year there is one trend that seems out of place.  There is something about blush pink that does not scream fall.  However, it made several appearances in the fall runways.  It is a nice change up for the darker tones that come with cooler weather dressing.  It can be tricky with some skin tones, so I suggest trying on different shades to find the one that works for you.  If it seems to wash you out but you still want to come to the party it pairs beautifully with black, gray, navy, and purple.  Build outfits that dominate in one of these colors and let the blush be your accessory accent color.

Lace.  I LOVE lace.  It is dramatic, it is sexy, but it is also so demure and classy.  Basically, it is a great fabric for communicating a message depending upon what it is paired with and how it is featured.  Two of my favorite combos are a Victorian-style collared lace shirt with high waisted silk pants or a lace tank top under a blazer for a little pop of sexiness when you move.

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The 80’s.  Soooo remember what I said about longing for simpler time?  Apparently, the 80’s are it according to fashion week.  Ruched dresses, acid washed jeans, and bold Miami Vice inspired prints all showed up.  Basically, if it reminds you of an episode of Dallas or early episodes of Saved By The Bell then it’s a go.

Strong Shoulders.  And continuing with the 80’s shoulder pads are back.  I know some women are cringing right now and others are cheering.  They can be a bit polarizing.  On one hand they were a bit of a pain to position and maintain (not to mention hot when the temps went over 72) but they did slim that waist down.  Luckily, this year it is not just about the padding.  Ruffles, dramatic points, and geometric shapes all worked their way into the shoulder arena, no pads required.

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Sequins. Yay let’s have fun and not just on New Year’s Eve.  Sequins are going mainstream and coming out to play at all times of the day.  If you are intimidated treat this one like you would the lace or fringe, stick to accessories.  Sequin belts, earrings, and bags are great ways to add personality to an outfit without overpowering your professional message.

40’s Silhouettes.  While the 80’s are dominating the overall look of some fashions the 40’s are dictating the fit.  Although, if you are a fashion historian you know that that in itself is 80’s since a lot of the evening styles that came out in the 80’s were direct descendants of the 40’s but I digress . . . Basically, go with it.  They are modest, they are flattering, and they are effortlessly professional since everything in the 40’s was dressier.

Oversized Trousers.  This is another one that easily transitions to the work wardrobe but can be a bit more intimidating than sweater vests.  Oversized anything can be tricky.  It also does not help that people tend to prescribe all kinds of “rules” to who can and cannot wear oversized clothing.  As with all dressing “rules” I say hooey.  Every body is shaped differently and there are a lot of different versions of “oversized” pants out there.  If you like the look then get out there and try on, try on, try on.  It may take a few fitting room sessions but there is a style out there for everyone.   

So there you have it.  Twelve ways you can have fun with trends and still stay true to your personal brand and audience.  As always this is just scratching the surface of styling possibilities so subscribe to my mailing list and follow me on Instagram for more personal branding fun.