Last month, I attended New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and was so invigorated by the excitement and energy in the city. Things feel very new and fresh and full of possibility! September NYFW showcases the new lines for Spring and Summer 2022 and then has a show for fashion buyers to order for the upcoming seasons. I was eager to attend shows of new and emerging designers as well as established brands and their visions for 2022. We will cover that a little later! For now, the focus is on fall.

After hitting every brand, boutique, and store in SoHo, spending half a day at the Revolve pop-up at Hudson Yards, and navigating Madison Avenue, I have researched, scoured, and accessed all the intel for this season’s trends and overall fashion direction.

Every season, clients want to know the best new pieces to buy to keep their wardrobes current. I’ve narrowed my findings down to three key pieces worth adding to your closet this fall — shoewear and knitwear — including how best to style them. They are not trendy, but they’re on-trend and will elevate your overall fall look and transition well into winter.

3 Fashion-Forward Pieces You Need This Fall

The Boot: Knee-High Boots are Back!

Ankle booties are always a staple, but knee-high or ‘tall boots’ are back in and fashion-forward this season. You will still see the over-the-knee boot and the relaxed fit mid-calf boot, but the sleek high boot is all the rage, making a comeback after seeing less popularity over the last few years. Heels can be high, low, or wedge with pointy, square, or almond-shaped toes. The lug sole is hugely popular in both booties and high boots, and I’ve also seen riding boots in the mix. Basically, anything goes with the knee-high boot choice for the coming season.

HOW TO STYLE

The high boot works so well with the recent popularity of the midi length. It is also easy. Find a neutral color that goes with most outfits in your wardrobe, or invest in a colored pair as more of a statement shoe.

Tall boots also work well with flared denim and above-the-knee dresses. Wear boots under wider leg or flare pants. Wear boots over straight, skinny denim or leggings. But never tuck fuller pants into boots.

Here are some options for high boots and ways to style them.

Knee-high camel boots paired with a prairie dress, a fall fashion trend

Try a timeless camel color with dresses, as shown, and under wide-legged pants. Image: Loeffler Randall

Knee-high boots from Shopbop and Schutz

Here are two other great looks for neutral high boots. Pair them with a maxi dress and add a denim jacket for cooler weather.  For a more edgy look, try a short skirt or dress with a statement coat. Images: Shopbop and Schutz

Knee-high boots with flare jeans and turtleneck, a fall fashion trend

High black pointy boots with flare denim and the white turtleneck make this an elevated casual look. Or opt for a beautiful silk blouse to dress it up. Image: Alice + Olivia

Knee-high boots from Veronica Beard, Schutz, and Lafayette 148 NYC at Gus Mayer

These are three neutral options for both daywear and nighttime looks. Wear the suede black wedge with a skinny pant and add an oversized cardigan. Pair the snakeskin boot with a rust or deep green top and denim, or a solid-colored midi-dress. And, add the navy suede, the NEW neutral this season, to outfits with camel or cream, or floral fall dresses. Images: Veronica Beard, Schutz, and Lafayette 148 NYC at Gus Mayer

Knee-high boots from Loeffler Randall and Sam Edelman, a fall fashion trend

These are more of a statement boot and a pop of color — or for some, a ‘Roll Tide’ look. Images: Loeffler Randall and Sam Edelman

RELATED: How to Wear Sneakers and Look Fashionable, Not Frumpy

The Cardigan: It’s not just for layering anymore.

The cardigan is always a must-have for layering during the colder months, and the piece you always need for airplanes and cold restaurants. But this year, the cardigan is the most sought-after ‘top’ and ‘sweater’ to update your closet. It’s a stand-alone piece.

HOW TO STYLE

Change up your winter tops by adding a cropped cardigan instead of a V-neck sweater. Add a chunky one for weekends, or create a throwback ’80s or ’90s look with a pattern or collar. Layer longer knitwear sweaters over graphic tees, turtlenecks, or blouses. There really is no ‘wrong’ look this year.

Also, jeweled, pearl, and accent buttons are having a moment — just in case you want a little throwback look. They are a noticeable detail on cardigans this season.

Between the cropped look, the boyfriend boxy, and the longer option, here are some ways to style the 2021 cardigan.

Cardigans from Proenza Schouler and Maje at Bloomingdales

Notice the great buttons on these cardigans! The rust is a casual look with black denim — notice how it’s worn as a stand-alone top. Pairing the winter white cardigan with the dressy white blouse elevates the look with black pants and nice black booties. Images: Proenza Schouler and Maje at Bloomingdale’s

Mint cardigan from RE/DONE, a fall fashion trend

This ’90s-inspired V-neck oversized cardigan pairs well with straight-leg denim. A luxe pick! Image: RE/DONE

Orange cardigan from Free People

Here is an elongated layered cardigan. Rust is a very popular color right now — it’s easy with a tee and sneakers. Unbutton for a different look with booties. Image: Free People

Black cardigan with jewel buttons from Zara, a fall fashion trend

Dress it up for dinner, a concert, or a cocktail party. Tone on tone and black leather always work. Notice the jeweled buttons. This is very flattering, not too boxy with a longer crop. Half-tuck the front for a more casual look. Images: ZARA

Fair Isle patterned cardigans from LoveShackFancy, a fall fashion trend

The ’80s-inspired Fair Isle patterned cardigan is quite feminine. Button it up as a sweater or leave it open with a white long-sleeved t-shirt. Images: LoveShackFancy

RELATED: What to Wear to Fall Events

The Sweater Vest

Knitwear dominated the NYC visual displays, and the vest has emerged as this season’s new must-have. This old-school trend is making a comeback, and there are so many unique ways to wear it. You’ll see chic silhouettes, a variety of colors, and even some argyle throwbacks.

HOW TO STYLE

The vest is bringing out all of the season’s brightest colors. It’s a great way to incorporate a pop of color into your outfit. Plus, it’s versatile — it can be casual for day wear or for the weekend with distressed jeans and cords for fall, or it can be paired with a blazer and crisp white button-down for a more professional look.

With the warmer weather in October, wear the vest without a shirt, and as it cools off, add a fitted turtleneck or white blouse. The sweater vest works with jeans, wide-legged trousers, and even over dresses.

Here are some ways to style the sweater vest.

Cream sweater vest from Veronica Beard and Shopbop

This is a very versatile vest. Add a white blouse and black jeans for a casual weekend look. Or pair it with camel leather and a dressier blouse for an elevated casual vibe. Images: Veronica Beard and Shopbop

Black sweater vest from Rails, a fall fashion trend

Wear it sleeveless or with a t-shirt for casual early fall, and style it with a blouse or turtleneck as the weather gets cooler. This can also be half-tucked. Images: Rails

Sweater vests from Zara and Baum und Pferdgarten

The ’80s reimagined! Show off the bold colors of the season or give a nod to the throw-back look of argyle. Images left to right: ZARA, Baum und Pferdgarten, and ZARA

Navy sweater vest from J.Crew

Here is a more traditional vest. Layer it on top of a shirt dress to create a fresher look. Images: J.Crew

Pink sweater vest from Shopbop with tucked-in blouse, a fall fashion trend

Add a white blouse to any of the new sweater vests to create a very crisp look. Finish it with jeans and lug-soled booties. Image: Madeleine Thompson at Shopbop

Sweater vests with untucked blouses

You can also wear your blouse untucked with a fitted vest and add a pair of straight- or wide-legged trousers. This look is perfect with high booties or heels. Or, style it with jeans and loafers. Images: Veronica Beard and Brochu Walker at Oak Hall

These are the three pieces that will update your closet this season. Try incorporating high boots, cardigan sweaters, and sweater vests for a fresh cool-weather look!

Cynthia can be found online at cynthiakelleystyle.com or on Instagram. Got a burning question for an upcoming Style File? Email us at [email protected].

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