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By Monica Barnett

Let’s talk about your fall wardrobe ⁠— but not just what you’re lusting after post Fashion Week or what you’re waiting for to go on sale (which is probably a summer item). I’m talking about the wardrobing that will get you through a variety of occasions, from a fall vacation on either coast, to and from your workout or that full day of work that transitions into an evening networking event.

In addition to being a personal branding expert, I’m a wardrobe stylist and the single biggest question I receive during this time of year is, “What clothes do I need for fall? What’s hot?” Guess what? Those two questions do not necessarily go together.

Perhaps we can get this out of the way quickly by listing what’s hot this fall:

1. Puff sleeves

2. Contrasting prints

3. Camel and nude

4. Colors: saffron, olive green, navy, cinnamon, bright red

5. Longer hemlines

6. Looser fitting pieces

Those are just some of the top ones, but what’s more important is what you do with the fashion intel and what you choose to make yours. Fashion is what hits the runway and the stores, but style is how you individualize that fashion.

In my case, I love puff sleeves (in moderation) because they’re very Balmain-esque and create instant drama for even the most basic look. Longer hemlines are not my friend because they detract from my already average height plus my legs are one my best features so, enough said! The bottom line: You have to pick and choose what works best for you.

Wardrobe stylist Monica Barnett.Courtesy of Monica Barnett

So let’s go back to the question, “What clothes do I need for fall?”

This really depends on what’s already in your closet, your style, lifestyle, budget, etc. If you live in a region or area that has some semblance of seasons then early fall (September and October) is all about transition: shorter days, darker mornings, larger temperature swings throughout the day, sunny days and cooler nights. The keys to making it painless are as follows:

1. Don’t put away all your summer pieces. Just pack up the super lightweight dresses and low coverage items.

2. Practice layering. Add leggings to your short swing dress. Throw on a sweater with your cute tee or tank. Keep a long scarf in your handbag or tote.

3. Opt for more coverage. Pull out your denim. Find those sweatshirt dresses. Add longer sleeves to your uniform.

For all of my clients, fall item recommendations might consist of:

1. Brightly-colored blazer

2. Print/patterned scarves

3. Fun leggings

4. Loose-weave sweater

5. Baseball/trucker cap

6. Long, open cardigan

7. Statement belt

8. Wedge sneakers

9. Gauchos or cropped wide leg pants

Here’s the idea behind this list of transition items: the best closets have the great basics and then have those statement and game-changer pieces that make the ordinary stand out and bring together seemingly disparate items.

A brightly-colored blazer gives you a bit of warmth for the later afternoon but also adds polish to a simple sleeve sheath dress. Gauchos or cropped wide leg pants don’t eat up all of your height, look very feminine as long as the fabric isn’t too heavy, the silhouette can read like a skirt, and offers just a taste of something different without going too crazy. A print or patterned scarf lets you wear multiple colors and bring them together seamlessly but also provides a little warmth in the evening. These items represent some of those great basics that when added to your summer pieces can be just what’s needed to get through early fall without a lot of additional purchasing and belly-aching over wasted money. It’s the closet version of The Wonder Twin powers activated!

Beyond what we’ve already discussed in terms of fall closet aspirations, let me close by giving you a few style tips that you’ll find helpful across the next month or so and can likely incorporate into your entire closet:

1. Keep only the items that you love and that make you, you — and not anyone else, smile.

2. Great tees are typically made of modal or have some elastane in them to hold their shape; and should stay in rotation year-round.

3. Prints and patterns are the workhorses of any great closet so, embrace them.

4. The camel or navy version of anything usually looks more high-end than black.

5. Focus on one or two main accent colors (my main accent colors, for example, are red and pink), and then you’ll find it easier to coordinate items in your closet.

Feel free to reach out to me via email ( or across social media at @Blueprint4Style. You can also subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter here. In the meantime, summer is officially behind us thus, fall is upon us so let’s get ready!