Nobody embraces new styles faster or more fervently than Gen Z (as documented in After School, my daily newsletter about youth culture). We have them to thank for pretty much all the trends we’re excited about at the moment, from low rises and Lexxola sunglasses to baggy jeans and Y2K jewelry. So with fall quickly approaching, I decided to go straight to the source to find out what will soon be dominating our closets. We DM’d 21 stylish Gen Zers on Instagram to ask what they’re stocking up on this season. And boy, did they deliver.
Cowboy boots were the most frequently mentioned trend, beloved for their versatility and comfort. One fan went as far as to call them the new white sneaker and explained that the western shoe has emerged as a streetwear staple. As for what to wear with the It boot, the Gen-Z crowd says anything goes. People mentioned pairing cowboy boots with everything from floral dresses to Levi's 501s to sweater vests. And speaking of sweater vests, knit also came up a lot—and if that knit hails from Lisa Says Gah or Paloma Wool, all the better.
Another frequently mentioned trend was bold colors; as one Gen Zer said, “I thought the maximalist color combos of earlier pandemic times were just a phase, but they’re only getting more wild.” Layering, too, is a big priority for fall, ideally involving an oversize menswear blazer a la Hailey Bieber. (As one girl told us, “You can literally dress anything up or down with a blazer. I’ve got every color literally just waiting to make an appearance when fall hits.”)
Below, see everything Gen Z will be buying for fall. And there's no shame in shaping our entire fall shopping lists around their picks.
I’m super excited for knee-high boots. They’re a classic, so I’m not sure if I would consider them a trend, but they always take over during fall. Pointed-toe or square-toe are my faves. I love them because they elevate any outfit and honestly make you look so powerful. What’s more powerful than someone strutting at you in knee-high heeled boots? Probably nothing. I also love a good trench coat. My go-to fall outfit is a mini skirt, tall boots, a sweater, and a trench coat.
— Jillian, @trecholopis
Every fall, I love wearing neutral sweater vests. But this year, I think I’m gonna look for some wild printed sweater vests because I think they will be so cute with my brown cowgirl boots and classic white tees/jeans.
As far as vests go, I’m hoping to find something one of a kind at the Silverlake Flea Market, but I have been eyeing a few from Lisa Says Gah and Princess Polly.
— Sian, @siancamille
The Lisa Says Gah and Paloma Wool maximalist styles—including colorful, chunky knits—plus bold accessories, printed pants, and psychedelic apparel will continue to be themes throughout the cooler months. I personally draw a lot of inspiration from Jenny Welbourn with the mixing of patterns and prints in colder weather.
I would love to play into the muted maximalism trend by pairing Frisson Knits sweaters with prairie skirts and vintage knee-highs. Green military liners are my go-to for layering. Paired with a thinner cardigan over a tee, Levi’s 501s, and a vintage pair of cowboy boots, the liner perfectly completes the outfit.
— Kaitlin, @__k_a_i_t_l_i_n
I am excited about the cowboy-boot wave that’s taking over. I’ve been wearing them for a while now, but it’s fun to see how other people wear them. Personally, I think the cowboy boot is the new white sneaker. Rather than throwing on a white chunky sneaker with everything, people are doing this with cowboy boots, and it’s really fun to see the range of outfits that are being styled with them.
In the past, people have only thought to style cowboy boots within the western aesthetic. These days, they have become more of a streetwear staple. Whether it’s pairing them with an oversize menswear blazer, dressing them up for going out, or even fitting them into the Y2K trend, they have become quite the go-to item for Gen Z. The classic, authentic boots from Boot Barn are great, and there are also boots from brands like Free People and Jeffrey Campbell who are recognizing the trend and doing their own version of it, which I think is so fun and allows for people with many different styles to try it.
— Hannah, @hannah_sheps
I’m honestly excited to see big collars and quilt-inspired garments this fall! I love a big collar, especially one from Ganni, and I think they can add a fun detail to any look. They’re great for layering, too. I’ve worn my big-collar shirts under sweaters, dresses, jumpsuits—you name it. Basically, with any item of summer clothing I’m not quite ready to give up yet, I’ll just pop a big-collar shirt under it to bring it into fall.
As for quilted clothes, I think this is a really great way to incorporate some of the loungewear/cozy home aesthetic into the outside world. It totally elevates the sweatsuit look we were rocking pretty much all last year and fuses bold patterns with comfortable vintage (or vintage-inspired) fabrics. The styles that we’re seeing from brands like Psychic Outlaw (the originator of the quilted coat and the inspiration behind the one I made last winter) and Lisa Says Gah definitely bring the inside out, and I’m loving it.
— Sarah, @happy_tunes
I’m really into color, so I’m excited about colorful slacks and blazers—not necessarily matching sets, but rather statement pieces by themselves. (Though matching sets are fun, too!) I usually wear dresses, so I’m excited to wear these pieces because I’ll look and feel like boss-bitch vibes.
— Jhaicelle, @jcellhasalife
I’m excited about prairiecore. When I was younger, I thought that the ultimate form of liberation from the patriarchy was sexualizing myself. After a particularly traumatic college-application season, I did some serious thinking about what matters to me and I came to the conclusion that boys are a waste of time (not to yuck anyone’s yum). My obsession with trying to appeal to men was so staggering that I was writing full essays in sixth grade about how awful I felt wearing Hanna Anderson leggings instead of the more attractive Lululemon kind. Now I love brands that focus on comfort, warmth, and connection; they prove that womanhood doesn’t have to be dependent on subverting the male gaze.
I dress like an androgynous pilgrim/Little House on the Prairie extra because I like that style, not because I want to reject my sexuality altogether. I’m excited to see women embracing what they actually like instead of what they think men would like, be it through wearing milkmaid dresses and clogs or homemade quilt coats.
— Margot, @teenmilennial
Cowboy boots! The fashion world was long overdue for a casual boot that isn’t a Doc Marten platform or Margiela tabby. Both of those are still great, but the cowboy boot is crazy versatile, easy to buy secondhand (and more unique that way), and easy to pair with dresses or jeans like its predecessors—just a little spicier, which pushes the boundaries of styling/creativity. The best I’ve found are on eBay or in thrift stores. They’re classic. But there are also some great brands that I would splurge on if they were in my budget, like a pair from Filles a Papa.
I’m also into bright colors and combinations. I thought the maximalist color combos of earlier pandemic times were just a phase, but they’re only getting more wild. We’re experiencing a collective confidence increase with wearing whatever we want, and this trend plays a huge role in that.
— Daniela, @danixelisa
I absolutely love the trend of loafers and socks! I wore loafers growing up, so they hold a special place for me, but I love how understated and sophisticated they look. I love pairing socks and loafers with a vintage embroidered sweatshirt or a little trench coat for a more updated look. They remind me of the ’60s, an era I love.
I also love glass jewelry. I’ve been loving Brooke Callahan’s style of jewelry, whom I had the pleasure of meeting. She is such a gem. I love how playful the large glass flowers and hearts are. I tend to dress pretty minimally, so for me, having a statement necklace makes all the difference.
— Alex, @alexxandraadiazz
A trend I’ve been thinking about is crochet accessories. Brands like Lolo Crochète and Tiny Wines are doing really unique things with crochet, like bags, hats, and balaclavas. Lolo’s bucket hat is on my list for the fall. People seem to be leaning into handmade-craft and artisan styles lately, which I’ve been loving. A celebration of the small creatives!
— Rose, @rosedemun
Gen Zers are really leaning into the everyday basics that can still be interesting and personalized—think oversize blazers, blouses, sturdy leather jackets, like the stuff Djerf Avenue sells. The reason why I’m all on board with this trend (if we can even call it that) is that it encourages conscious consumerism and personal customization. I think my generation is finally starting to realize that it’s cool to re-wear staple items instead of always having the piece of the moment. It’s so important to be excited about pieces in your wardrobe that you can truly wear again and again in different ways and that are unique to your own style.
I’m also excited for the return of the long, brightly colored or patterned wrap-around scarf. This is the exact type of item that can personalize your outfit when you opt for an everyday piece like a blazer, blouse, or trench coat. Acne has some great ones, but I’m hoping to pick some up at a cheaper price point while thrifting or in a little vintage shop in the next couple of months.
— Isabel, @isabelrudie
I’m planning to buy a quilted jacket like the kind from Sea New York or Psychic Outlaw. The Danish Instagram girls definitely inspired me on this trend. I think these jackets are perfect for fall because they are light and breezy; I always want to layer a ton right when September hits, but that’s not always practical since it’s still pretty hot. Plus, I’m a huge fan of color, and these quilted jackets are usually super vibrant and funky.
I know loafers are a predictable trend for fall, but I think wearing a pop of color on your feet is a fun statement. I am currently eyeing a pair of lavender or snakeskin loafers. Ganni also has a few pairs that have crystals on them, which is a total dream for the fall. My fall uniform is baggy jeans and a fleece or sweater, so I think that a colorful loafer would jazz up my outfits.
— Larissa, @larissagill
I’m looking forward to bright colors this fall. Color is the easiest way to make a statement with your outfit, especially in a season like fall when people are wearing more toned-down colors. I’m also excited about clogs this year. I’ve been a fan of chunky shoes forever. I don’t currently own a pair, but I would love to get my hands on some. I especially like the look of bubble clogs.
— Janai, @janailourde
This fall, I’m buying checked patterns and the teeniest, tiniest heeled loafers just like the ones Carolyn Bessette Kennedy is wearing in this photo.
Checked patterns are nice if you don’t plan on dressing like a gourd come fall; taking the classic check motif and warping it puts you somewhere between academia-apropos and an acid trip.
As for the loafers, I can only imagine the perfect reality in which they exist and I exist in them. I've always admired a heeled loafer but have yet to go there, as I am 5’10.’’ However, the slight lift on these guys is not threatening to me, and I applaud the snakeskin for saying what the heel (gracefully) won’t.
— Alyson, @alysonzw
Fall is my all-time favorite season for fashion. It’s a season that allows for layering, knits, and experimenting with new styles. I like the ’90s focus on effortless yet simple style, which is something I am always trying to achieve.
Two specific items I will be purchasing that tap into this ’90s trend are clogs and vests—both reminiscent of outfits my mom used to wear. They have proven to be staples, or pieces we see hitting the fashion world every 10 years or so. I love this ’90s-revival trend, as it allows us to take on the trend in our own modern way, even in 2021.
— Eliza, @elizapregmon
I’m very ready for giant bags (or at least normal-sized bags) to come back in the fall. I’m very sick of trying to stuff everything I need for the day into a mini shoulder bag.
More generally, I’m excited about the return of personal style. During quarantine, we all got caught up with consuming fashion over the internet and started looking like clones, especially with the rise of the avant-basic trend. I’m excited to consume more in-person fashion by people-watching and to dive deeper into what makes me happiest when I’m getting dressed rather than relying on a Pinterest board.
— Natalia, @perogiprincess_
I always love knitwear for fall. I’m super excited to add the Lisa Says Gah Dancing Flowers knit Sweater Vest and Paloma Wool Yin Yang Sweater to my collection. I think while the yin-yang trend and sweater vests blew up last fall, they will return this season. They’ll end up being timeless pieces for me that I will have for a long time. I love those two brands and think they have gained popularity because they are so unique and fun.
— Zoey, @m0ldypeach
I’m excited to wear knee-high and platform boots. Boots are such a statement piece right now, and I can’t wait to pair them with a cute mini skirt and warm nude/chocolate tones. These two—tall Bottega Venetas and Stella McCartney ankle boots—will be my next big buys.
I’m also excited about bringing back my blazers. You can literally dress anything up or down with a blazer. I’ve got every color literally just waiting to make an appearance when fall hits.
— Imani, @itsimaniwilson
I’m really excited about transitioning to fall while also keeping saturation in play with bold colors. Just ‘cause fall calls for warm tones doesn’t mean we have to listen. I actually just bought hot pink trousers from Big Bud Press. They just came out with petite sizing, which is lovely, and they have elastic, so they’re really comfy.
— Alex, @alesthetic
I’m excited about knitted sets, like this one from Social-Work Studio. You can look put together while being cozy and warm. Sets aren’t only for summer. They’re chic! Also, tailored pants that reach the floor. I like them fitted but baggy at the same time.
And my personal favorite trend for fall: mismatched prints! It’s funny, spontaneous, and cool! I’m excited to try a cool grandpa vest with a printed tee.
— Candice, @so.candice
This fall, I'll definitely buy more athleisure since I’m still working remotely, and I spend lots of time inside. One of my fave brands is Outdoor Voices. I check their webpage every Thursday, and I plan to buy more exercise dresses, in particular. I’ll pair the exercise dress with a cool sweater—I’m eyeing more Paloma Wool knits.
— Sophie, @sophiedoublef