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11 Fall Wardrobe Essentials as You Get Older

Add these classic pieces to your autumn shopping list, stylists say.

Believe it or not, summer is almost over, meaning those crisp fall days are well within reach. Even if you love the warmth of summer, chances are some aspects of autumn spark joy, whether it's the changing leaves or football Sundays. But another beloved part of fall is the fashion—and with trends changing every year, a fall wardrobe can be a bit overwhelming to keep up with.

As we get older, we're not necessarily as worried about what's "in" for the upcoming season, but rather what we can add to our wardrobe that will speak to our personal style and flatter our figure.

"If you're a woman, your body will change," petite style coach Angela Foster tells Best Life. "Whether because of pregnancy, menopause, changes in medication, or activity level, weight is always shifting and moving around. Knowing how to tweak your clothing choices when these changes happen is powerful."

You may feel like you need to grab bulky sweaters to hide or disguise certain areas, but Foster says this strategy can have the opposite effect. Instead, read on to discover 11 essential items that will be in your fall wardrobe for years.

RELATED: 6 Tips for Revamping Your Wardrobe as You Get Older, Stylists Say.

A flattering pair of dark jeans

middle-aged woman in dark jeans
miniseries / iStock

Fall is the time when you get to reintroduce those darker hues—and Foster says dark wash denim is a must-have staple. When looking for a pair of dark jeans that will work for you, consider your body type.

"Mid-rise is the most universally flattering and the most comfortable whether sitting, standing, or walking," Foster notes. "Be cautious of high-rise mom jeans. They frequently add 'poof' to the middle section and make our bum look long and flat."

Skinny jeans have been under fire lately, but if you have a pair of dark wash skinnies that you love, don't ditch them just because you heard they're no longer on-trend.

"One of the best things about getting older is knowing yourself and feeling confident enough to walk away from trends that aren't awesome on your shape," Foster says. "Feel free to ignore the hot denim trend of the season. Instead, choose the rise and leg shape that flatters you best."

A gilet

woman wearing gilet
SolStock / iStock

You might recognize a gilet as a vest or a sleeveless jacket. But no matter what you call it, this item should definitely be in your closet this fall, certified image stylist Elizabeth Kosich tells Best Life.

Kosich, who is also the founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling, says a classic gilet "is a lifesaver in transitional seasons."

"Adding just enough warmth through the torso, its sleeveless style doesn't stifle," she tells Best Life. "Get a good down vest for a sporty weekend uniform, or try a shearling, fur, or faux fur gilet for an elevated weekday look."

A gilet will look great paired with knee-high flat boots and those skinny jeans you've got stowed away, Kosich says. If you need a more formal look, reach for an A-line skirt, tights, and Chelsea boots.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Dress Trendy Over 60, Stylists Say.

A wool poncho

woman in a poncho at a vineyard
encierro / Shutterstock

While you may hear "poncho" and shudder at the thought of the plastic variety, when styled correctly, a poncho can be incredibly chic. It's a wardrobe essential for the fall, and you should invest in one made from a heavier fabric like wool.

"Ponchos deliver warmth with a splash of drama. The swishy, billowing silhouette is attention-grabbing just as much as it is warm," Kosich says. "Plus the airflow helps regulate body temperature on toasty fall days. Try a full-length cape-style poncho for high-drama, maximum impact, or the traditional mid-thigh length for a quieter style statement."

Light layering tops

white t-shirt folded on wood background

If there's one thing fall is infamous for, it's the ever-changing temperatures. In the morning, you need a coat to get to and from work or school, but once the afternoon sun is shining, you're sweating.

"Autumn is most everyone's favorite season; however, its crisp mornings, toasty days, and cool evenings require wardrobe quick turns that can be difficult to anticipate. The solution? Layers," Kosich says. "Piling on and peeling off is the best wardrobe strategy for fall, though curating stylish pieces takes planning. The goal is to strike a balance between not too light but not too heavy."

Foster recommends investing in a few tops that you can wear as a base, which will work underneath a few layers or on their own. If your upper arms are an area you worry about these days, she also suggests reaching for t-shirts, specifically.

"Look for tissue tees and other lightweight layering pieces," Foster advises. "With the advent of high-performance, wicking fabrics, there are gobs of options available. And when you find one you love, make sure to stock up."

RELATED: 5 Must-Have Clothes to Transition to Fall as You Get Older.

A versatile blazer

Older woman wears brown blazer in fashion atelier

Blazers have become a staple in every season, and fall is no exception. However, Foster says that patience is key here, as you want to find an option for fall that really works with your shape.

"This item is worth waiting for until the perfect one jumps into your path," she shares. "One with a hem that hits at the hipbones or above is ideal for petites. For [average height] and tall women, hunt for one that has some tailoring in the waist area to avoid a too-boxy look."

And if you're hesitant to introduce a blazer, think again.

"If this is a new addition to your closet, you will be shocked by how often you reach for it," Foster says.

A pea coat

older woman wearing pea coat
Anna Zhuk / Shutterstock

A pea coat is a staple item that can carry you through the next several years—or even decades.

"The traditional pea coat is an investment piece that, for many, is also a wardrobe anchor. It's both versatile and classic, plus its true navy color is a less harsh and more flattering neutral than black after 50," Kosich says. "Keep it traditional with a classic pea coat cut, or try an updated version with stylized design details like metallic hardware, statement sleeve cuffs, a fit-and-flare silhouette, or cropped length."

Kosich stresses that a pea coat is a great "grab-and-go" option, keeping you "warm and chic through fall."

RELATED: 6 Colors You Need in Your Wardrobe as You Get Older, Stylists Say.

A unique shoe

stylish kitten heel slingback shoes
New Africa / Shutterstock

We can't forget about shoes, and as the years pass, it's even more important to make sure you're stylish and comfy.

"Accessories pull together an outfit quicker and easier than anything else—and shoes are the easiest accessory around and add a fun style flair," Foster says.

In fact, this is one area where you may want to look into trends, as two versatile options are currently "in."

"Be on the lookout for a flirty pair of kitten heels. They'll go with dresses, denim, and everything in between," Foster adds, also noting that platform sneakers are a must.

"[They're] the ultimate in comfort and way more stylish than your gym sneakers," she explains.

A cashmere cardigan wrap

cashmere wrap
Eva Blanco / iStock

A wrap is a must-have in any closet, but it's particularly beneficial in the fall. As we get older, we also like to treat ourselves a bit, so why not spoil yourself by picking up a cashmere option?

"The perfect fall fabric, cashmere is lightweight enough to layer but dense enough to deliver crazy-good cozy warmth. A cashmere cardigan wrap is the ultimate fall go-to for both practicality and style," Kosich says. "Early in the season layer with a simple t-shirt or tank, leggings, and suede driving moccasins. Then, as temperatures drop, change the t-shirt to a cashmere tee, crewneck sweater, or turtleneck with a gilet layered over the cashmere wrap."

RELATED: 6 Tips for Wearing Trousers If You're Over 60, According to Stylists.

A go-to dress

older woman wearing terracotta colored dress
NeonShot / iStock

Just because it's a little chillier out in the fall doesn't mean you can't put on a party dress. Still, your preferences may change with the seasons—and with age—which is why Foster recommends a wrap-style dress or one with an empire waist.

"[These dresses are] truly versatile pieces that take you from casual to dressy and from summer to winter with a couple of slight accessory tweaks," she explains. "When choosing the perfect wrap dress, pay attention to where the belt hits. Right at the waist is ideal for a balanced body shape or women who carry a bit of extra volume in the thigh area."

If you want to take focus away from the stomach area, look for an option that has a higher belt.

Peplum pieces

peplum dress
Paul Stringer / Shutterstock

While they were all the rage a decade ago, peplums have made a comeback—and thanks to the way they're cut, they're a great option if you want to accentuate your waist this fall.

"A common trouble spot is that pesky middle section—the stomach, hip, and thighs. A simple solution is peplum or empire waist tops and sweaters," Foster shares. "They give definition under the bust (or slightly above your waist, depending on the style) and then flare out and camouflage trouble spots."

Foster reiterates that they're "super popular this season," making shopping easier with more options in stores and online.

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A jean jacket

older woman wearing jean jacket
lucentius / iStock

Rounding out this list is old reliable: a jean jacket.

"Jean jackets were built for shoulder season. The ultimate in versatility, they can be dressed up or down and look stylish either way," Kosich says. "Layer with a cotton polo over a cotton turtleneck or, for more warmth, try a wool sweater set and wool scarf."

Don't go for anything too long or oversized this fall—reach instead for a jacket that's cropped at the waist. This ensures it will flatter your figure and pair well with a range of bottoms, all while "keeping the silhouette divided into thirds—the optimal proportions that flatter," Kosich notes.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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