Favorite pen, check. Super cute backpack and planner, check and check. Now for the hard part: choosing the best back-to-school outfit. Something about going back to school screams, “Allow me to reintroduce myself!” You’re not the same person you were before the summer break. You’re rested and refreshed, not to mention your personal style has evolved. ‘Tis the season to step into the new semester feeling even more confident and on trend.
Fall 2023 semester style is all about having fun. We’re experimenting with texture, layering, belting, and accessories. Whether it’s sparkly sequins, stacked rings, or colorful tights, there are no wrong answers.
But with so many trends to choose from, where to start? Well, we’ve got you covered with a list of our favorite fall fashion trends. Maybe you’re returning to high school or college, uniform or no uniform — in any case, there’s a trend for you to embrace. And the best part is how each category can be styled in multiple ways, creating countless opportunities to express your individuality.
To help you choose the perfect outfit, scroll along to shop our curated list of the trends that will transform the school hallway into your personal runway.
That’s right, we’re breaking rules and taking fashion risks this season. Why choose one when mixing silver and gold creates an edgy contrast to your typical accessories look? The combination adds dimension to any outfit. You can grab already premixed jewelry or take it a step further and stack your necklaces, bracelets, and rings. Choose pieces similar in weight and size to ensure symmetry and balance in your ensemble — we want accessories to complement one another. Mixing silver and gold is just one example of how you can play with different elements to craft a stylish and unique look that resonates with your personality.
The perfect wow factor! The trick to strutting a sequined moment is to pair it with something more subdued. Try a sequined top with your favorite jeans or wear a patterned, sequined skirt with a tank and a lazy-day cardigan. Show your peers a fresh take on the trend with baggy cargo pants and sequined heels or layer a sequined dress over a basic tee with classic low-top sneakers. The styling possibilities are endless. Sequins — they literally reflect light and will instantly elevate your look — are a bold fashion statement that add an energetic, glamorous note to even the most casual outfit. And dressing a sequined look up or down proves you’re not afraid to push boundaries.
Rooted in hip-hop, now fueled by popularity among Gen Z’ers, on high-fashion runways, supermodels, and in pop-culture, late ’90s to early 2000s fashion is a forever trend. And by knee-length shorts, we mean jorts, Bermuda shorts, and even cargo shorts. The trend comes in a plethora of options, often styled with other Y2K essentials such as ballet flats and baby tees. Try a leather pair for that extra oomph. Available everywhere you turn, in women’s and men’s sections, down to that one pair of wide-leg jeans waiting for you to cut them in half, the comfort and accessibility of this trend makes it a top fave.
I know what you’re thinking: Sheer to class? Sheer for the fall? Yes, exactly. Mesh skirts have stormed the runways of the biggest houses in fashion, including Miu Miu and Tory Burch. For a multidimensional look, layer a solid miniskirt or a sheer skirt over your favorite pants. Still, I get it — wearing a sheer garment can be nerve-wracking. But you don’t have to bare it all. Sheer pieces can be a great transitional trend and just a fun layering piece.
These days it’s evident that attachment to our phones is stronger than ever. And with DIY style becoming increasingly popular again, it was only a matter of time before phone charms came back in style. Years ago, these charms were so popular that cell phones were manufactured with the attachment loop. Now, in the age of sleek smartphones, you have to get a phone case designed to accommodate a phone charm. And if you do, you’ll get to choose from the trend’s many new designs. Whether you prefer acrylic butterflies and hearts to actual gemstones and crystals, phone charms have undeniably become the “It” accessory. Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa, and other fashion-forward individuals now consider phone charms an essential part of their ensemble before stepping out. With so many styles at low prices, it’s easy to get in on this trend and find a charm that speaks to your personality.
There isn’t a better back-to-school shoe than a Mary Jane. The closed-toe, flat silhouette is a classic that has also taken on a platform style. Mary Janes have been popular for years because they are sophisticated yet casual enough for the schoolyard. This season they have become a wardrobe essential. Pair your Mary Janes and/or flats with a pleated skirt, a dress with knee-high socks, or with jeans and a cozy sweater. Flats and Mary Janes are comfortable and timeless enough to wear with any outfit.
It’s official: Fashion is in a bow era. What had often been deemed excessive and unnecessary has become the accessory standard. This trend is about maximizing possibilities: bows in hair, bows on the face as a makeup look, bows all over tights, dresses, shoes, and bags. This fall, there is no such thing as too many bows. Brands such as Sandy Liang and Simone Rocha are not new to this but remain true to the bow aesthetic. Proof that bows are what you make them, they fit into any look: glam, goth, balletcore, or even cottagecore.
The best thing about statement and baby tees is that they are the outfit. No matter how you wear it, the energy that the perfect statement tee exudes is enough to carry an entire look. Baby tees are cropped tiny tops, while statement tees are just that, no matter the shape. Whether it’s a long-sleeve tee, mesh, or even a halter, these shirts are often stamped with an attention-grabbing slogan or graphic that sets the tone for the rest of your look, which makes getting dressed more fun. (Think Britney Spears’ “Dump Him” tee or Paris Hilton’s “Don’t Be Jealous” tank.) The perfect opportunity to mean what you say without saying what you mean.
Similar to the art of layering necklaces and selecting the perfect earrings to complement your ensemble, belting holds much significance as an accessory. Style your belt over a coat, cinch a dress, or join the latest belting trend by wearing it across your chest, as seen on Lori Harvey. Bonus points if it’s a patterned belt. This season, belting isn’t only for holding us together, it’s a great addition to every outfit, loop or no loop.
Once your bookbag is tucked away in your locker, your look must stay strong. After all, someone has to carry your wallet and lip gloss. Versatile, practical, and on trend, a cute purse adds that extra flare. This way you stay prepared throughout the school day without compromising your look.
Model Gracen Wilkins
Sr. Fashion Editor & Stylist Karissa Mitchell
Photographer Louisiana Mei Gelpi
Photo Assistant Skyli Alvarez
Art & Design Director Emily Zirimis
Designer & Production Liz Coulbourn
Sr. Talent Casting Manager Gabrielle Seo
Associate Fashion & Beauty Editor Donya Momenian
Associate Editor Aiyana Ishmael
Copy Editor: Dawn Rebecky
Associate Fashion Editor Kat Thomas
Assistant Fashion Editor Tascha Berkowitz
Lead Fashion Assistant Angelina Cantu
VHU Coordinator Brianna Paul