How to style fall outfits for less


Katlyn Campbell/Iowa State Daily

Delaney Goldsworthy shows off her style on campus. She layered a denim jacket and patterned button down over black leggings.

Hannah Scott

The leaves are changing, the breeze is cooling and pumpkin spice is in full swing. Fall time has finally started, and with the changing of the seasons comes the changing of store racks everywhere. It’s a well-known fact that even before fall begins, stores are already stocking their shelves with jeans, sweaters and scarves in the hopes that consumers will once again fill their closets with the newest trends of the season. 

However, as the seasons change and trends emerge, fall consumers are increasingly more pressured into spending their precious dollars in order to have a fresh closet. In reality, one does not need to go out and purchase every new item that gets stocked. To a beginner, styling clothing may seem daunting, but with a few tricks, you can revive pieces to look brand new for the upcoming season.

“That’s just how they do the whole business, even when you look at designers and their different lines — at least that’s how it has been for a long time,” said Arienne McCracken, assistant teaching professor and graduate student in apparel, events and hospitality management. 

McCracken said she is aware of consumerist culture and how brands often take advantage of the changing seasons’ trends. When asked if she thinks individuals really need to stock their closets with new items, she said it might not be as necessary as some believe.

“It just gets too expensive, and I think a lot of people nowadays are thinking about sustainability, which is another good reason not to go out and buy new clothes every season,” McCracken said. 

Often, one of the biggest roadblocks in using one’s own closet as consciously as possible is simply the fact that it is easy to forget what you already own.

“I think all of us do this, but we forget about what all is in our closets and drawers just because it’s been hot out and you forget what else you’ve got there,” McCracken said. 

The first step to making your wardrobe look like new is to declutter and look at each item in your closet, which can help clear out pieces you haven’t been wearing and move forward items you will actually get use out of. From there, one can use a few helpful tips to take what they already have and make the transition from warm summer days to cooler fall times.

“I really like to keep a combination of basics and staple pieces that allow me to use other clothing over multiple seasons,” said Hannah Iverson-Jones, sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design. “One of those would be like my mom’s old Levi jacket that I love to keep in my closet for the colder months because I know it will never really go out of style, and I just generally try to style my pieces in multiple different ways.” 

Iverson-Jones said she is constantly thinking of ways to stretch her closet and make each item multi-purposeful. 

Layering might look like throwing a long sleeve turtleneck under a short sleeve shirt or dress, wearing a sweater over a dress, or putting a cardigan over a tank or crop top to keep in the warmth.Tights or leggings are also an excellent way to make use of any dress or skirt in the fall or winter months, and accessories can make any old outfit look brand new. 

“I think you can always think about layering, and that’s a very easy way to be warm with still more summery pieces,” McCracken said.

When styling more masculine clothes, some layering can be incorporated by throwing a sweater over a collared shirt or making use of outerwear for a more bundled look. 

“Whether it’s a new scarf, hat or pair of shoes, there are things that aren’t super expensive but can make an outfit look fresher,” McCracken said.

Additionally, many colors can make the transition from summer to fall if used as “pops” of color. For example, if you have a lighter pink or yellow sweater, pair those with some dark wash jeans and booties for a more autumnal look. 

Oftentimes, simply getting creative with what we wear can be the most helpful aspect of changing our style from season to season. 

“I love having a combination of patterns, colors and styles all in one outfit,” Iverson-Jones said. “This allows you to be creative and express yourself with multiple pieces all in one outfit.”

While companies may be throwing new items in our faces daily, remember that shopping your own closet can be a way to save money and keep textiles from ending up in the trash. 

Other options like thrift or consignment stores can allow one to purchase new items without having to spend a lot of money. Playing with colors, textures and patterns can create new and fun outfits that are perhaps even more unique than the latest trends.