16 Must-Have Fall Essentials, According To Fashion Insiders

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Photo: Courtesy of Shopbop.

Every season, a new selection of soon-to-be bestsellers hits our favorite fashion retailers. With so many fall 2023 trends and products to keep up with, it’s hard to know what to “add to cart.” In our New Arrivals series, we consult the buyers, editors, and fashion insiders at our go-to shopping destinations to find out their best bets for the season’s wardrobe essentials.

If you aren’t yet convinced that fall is the best fashion season, autumn’s most popular styles might finally change your mind. Last fashion month, designers made a case for looks both wearable and high on drama, with something for everyone.

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While the runways offered a slew of exciting color trends, all the experts agree that red is fall’s top hue. “There is no limit on how you can experiment with red, especially when juxtaposed against neutral tones or worn from head to toe,” says Jodi Kahn, VP of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus. “If you’re hesitant about wearing a full red ensemble, lean into accessories for a pop of color.” Rickie De Sole, Nordstrom’s women’s fashion director, echoes this, adding: “From bright and peppery to rich, deep Bordeaux, there’s a red for every style and occasion.”

If your closet leans minimalist, this season offers an exciting twist on wardrobe staples or what Matches’ head of womenswear Liane Wiggins refers to as “directional daywear.” She explains, “It is less of a trend and simply more reflective of how women are dressing for their varying lifestyles. There are so many building block pieces coming through the collections this season, from Miu Miu’s coats layered with hooded sweatshirts and leather jackets to Gucci’s relaxed denim. This is clothing we can see ourselves wearing straight from the runway.” 

With the holiday season now on the horizon, Brigitte Chartrand, VP of womenswear buying at Ssense, predicts the return of the ’80s. Think: “Grace Jones, and the opulence and excess that defined the glamorous 1980s era… elegance with a touch of rebellion,” she says. “Statement pieces such as oversized sunglasses, the color red, bold jewelry, and hooded dresses perfectly capture the daring and vibrant style that characterized the ’80s, while tailored suits with strong shoulders, clean cuts, and luxurious fabrics make it a timeless look.”

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In the accessories department, top-handle bags and oversized carryalls will be trending on two opposing sides of the style pendulum. On the shoe front, ballet flats will continue their winning streak from 2022. “The ballerina trend has become increasingly popular thanks to the fishnet style by Alaia,” says Tiffany Hsu, vice president of fashion buying at MyTheresa. “Given its versatility, the ballet flat is here to stay.” If you’re looking to invest in something less sheer for the colder months, experts predict that Prada’s 3-D floral styles will be a footwear favorite.

Ahead, other fall essentials to add to your wardrobe rotation, according to fashion insiders.

“Red was all over the fall 2023 runways and is definitely this season’s It color. For a head-to-toe look, The Row’s red coat makes a statement, and Loewe’s trompe l’oeil dress adds a playful pop. Red shoes and handbags also make for great accent pieces.” — Roopal Patel, SVP, Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue

“Hard-shell, structured top-handle bags are having a moment again, making for an old-school very ladylike throwback. Polished leather and mock croc are key to this trend.” — Celenie Seidel, Senior Womenswear Lead at Farfetch

“Whether you’re attending dinners, weddings, or galas, the vibe this season is sleek and glam. Think: rich velvets and luxe metallics, as well as blazer dresses and strapless minis. Similar to the trends we’re seeing for casual and everyday dressing, the aesthetics for nighttime dress is more streamlined than years past but no less impactful.” — Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop

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Ballet Flats & Mary Janes

“Flat shoes and low heels are trending, and the ballet flat and Mary Jane are the must-have shapes of the season. Mesh, studs, and velvet are new takes on this classic silhouette that feel perfect for fall.” — Arielle Siboni, RTW Fashion Director at Bloomingdale’s

“Long, exaggerated outerwear created many dramatic moments on the runway — worn open as a top layer or as a full statement piece. The assortment of extra-long coats this season is defined by smooth, clean lines and streamlined silhouettes. There’s an underlying functionality to it; they are refined and sophisticated, understated but not basic.” — Jodi Kahn, VP of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus

“I love a dramatic earring as a trend because you get so much with so little effort! You can completely change up the mood of any outfit by adding a modern, sculptural earring. A jeans and tee outfit goes from basic and casual for the day to fun and festive for the evening by just adding a pair of earrings. They can also be great conversation starters.” — Rickie De Sole, Women’s Fashion Director at Nordstrom

“An oversized jacket or classic shirt — often belted, with a pop of legwear or tights — creates a daring proportion we will be seeing all fall!” — Maggie Schuler, Executive Director, Creative Digital Merchandising at Anthropologie

“It’s all about a playful take on back-to-school this season. We’re seeing a big uplift in silhouettes that toe the line between flirty and formal through shrunken cardigans, satin ballerina flats, heavy frames, and bowling bags.” — Brigitte Chartrand, VP of Womenswear Buying at Ssense

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“After years of mini and micro bags leading the charge, XL bags are staging a return with key styles from Bottega Veneta, Loewe, and Toteme.” — Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at Matches

“Oversized clothing, from denim to blazers, continues to dominate the fall/winter wardrobe, and I anticipate seeing more oversized pieces on the runways. I particularly love oversized wide-leg denim as it’s statement-making but still quite casual.” — Tiffany Hsu, Vice President of Fashion Buying at MyTheresa

“From coats to -—unexpectedly — shoes, teddy-like textures have a strong presence for the new season. Supremely cozy for the cold months ahead.” — Celenie Seidel, Senior Womenswear Lead at Farfetch

“Western influences are everywhere this fall, and a key piece of this trend is head-to-toe denim. A denim blazer is a chic way to upgrade your suit, and I am loving all of the other non-traditional denim pieces on the floor right now: denim shirts, maxi skirts, and even handbags, too!” — Arielle Siboni, RTW Fashion Director at Bloomingdale’s

“High-shine silver jewelry is set to replace gold as our go-to metal this fall with formats including large link piled necklaces, sculptural earrings, and fluid pendants.” — Maggie Schuler, Executive Director, Creative Digital Merchandising at Anthropologie

“This fall is all about sophisticated, effortlessly chic dressing with minimal fuss. Skirts will be everywhere in various hems from short to mid, to long and flowy, with standout styles by Prada, Khaite, and Saint Laurent. I am loving this chic power jacket from Saint Laurent paired with a slim pencil skirt, and the hand-embroidered white skirt from Prada paired with a gray crewneck knit.” — Roopal Patel, SVP, Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue

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“As the air turns crisper, so do our wardrobes. This season, embrace the sumptuous side of fall and reach for rich tones like chocolate browns, and luxe textures like suedes and embossing. The return of boot season is imminent, and we’ll see loafers and ballet flats enter the regular rotation as well. For accessories, look to large slouchy bags, baseball hats, and statement necklaces and arm stacks to elevate your look.” — Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop

Tailored Foundational Wardrobe

“A capable tailored wardrobe brings a spirit of poise to the everyday. Foundational pieces like longline coats, menswear-inspired shirts, sleek skirts, and blazers are always welcome at work but go beyond 9-to-5 in making you feel put together and confident. Having a perfectly suited wardrobe is so much more than a passing trend, but the fact that tailored pieces are trending for fall gives you opportunity to find the silhouettes that work for you. ” — Rickie De Sole, Women’s Fashion Director at Nordstrom

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy or click on something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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