Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Style > Fashion

How to Update Your Fall Wardrobe (Without Breaking the Bank)

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.

It’s that time of year again! School has started, the air is getting crisper (unless, of course, you live in Charleston), and the fall décor is being rolled out in every store. With the onset of the fall season, it may feel like your closet is ill-prepared. Here are some tips on how to build a long lasting fall wardrobe, all while staying on top of trends and not breaking the bank.

Good Basics are Gold

If you are to invest in anything this fall season (or any season for that matter), invest in good basics. Basics are the building blocks of any wardrobe. A good basic will be timeless. Here is a list of some basics any wardrobe should have:

  • Tank top– A good tank top will always be a closet staple. Look for ones that are a solid color and are not see through. When in doubt, a solid white, black, or grey tank top will never fail.
    • Stores to look at: Abercrombie, Aerie, Skims, Madewell, Everlane, The Gap/Old Navy
  • T-Shirt– Similar to the tank top, a plain t-shirt should be in every closet. They are extremely easy to dress up or down, and are perfect for layering. A plain t-shirt is extremely easy to come by, and is fairly cheap.
    • Stores to look at: Target (or any major department store), The Gap/Old Navy, Aerie, Skims
  • Jeans– Finding a good pair of basic jeans can be a bit more tricky. Jean trends come and go like the wind, so it becomes a bit more of a challenge to find a pair that will last a long time. When looking for jean basics, avoid rips. While the ripped jean trend has been around for a while, they are not always practical and won’t necessarily stand the test of time. It is also best to avoid loud patterns. I myself am a lover of patterns; however, patterned jeans are harder to style and you may find yourself not wearing them as much as you had hoped. The fit of the jean is also important. What is considered “in” for jean cuts and fits have gone in and out of trend for many years; however, some styles have remained consistent. A good wide-leg (but not too baggy) or mom jean are timeless fits, but if you prefer a tighter fit, you can never go wrong with a straight leg jean or a flare/bootcut jean. You should also stick with simpler colors that are easier to style. You should have a pair of light wash, dark wash, white, and black jeans
    • Stores to look at: Madewell, Abercrombie, Zara, PacSun, The Gap/Old Navy, Levi’s, Nordstrom
  • Pants– Pants are very similar to jeans in that finding the perfect staple pair that will last a long time is tricky. Just like jeans, avoid anything that can make the pants look dated, like super trendy and loud patterns. It is also best to look for simpler colors, like white, black, and cream/tan. Colors like light and dark blue and brown are also simple colors that will never not be hard to style. I personally love a good trouser, tapered pant, or flare pant
    • Stores to look at: Urban Outfitters, Abercrombie, The Gap, Everlane, Banana Republic
  • Jacket– Jackets are perfect for the fall and winter season to elevate an outfit (and keep you warm) and can last a long time if you invest in the right one. Like the other basics on this list, look for simple colors that will go with any outfit you pair it with and won’t go out of style. You can never go wrong with a black jacket, or a white one. Other colors that go well with mostly everything are navy blue and brown. For a lighter weight option, use a plain dress shirt or a thicker button up to layer an outfit.
    • Stores to look at: H&M, North Face, Madewell, Everlane, Urban Outfitters, L.L. Bean
  • Sweaters– For the cooler seasons, sweaters are a must have; however finding a timeless one to build your wardrobe can be hard. Sweater trends seem to change every year, so in order to find one that stands that test of time and won’t look dated, avoid super trendy patterns and cuts (like cropped sweaters). Instead, look for solid colors, or simpler patterns, like stripes.
    • Stores to look at: PacSun, Abercrombie, American Apparel, Zara, H&M
  • Accessories– Accessories are the best way to elevate any outfit. Whether you’re a silver or gold jewelry person, a simple pair of hoop earrings, and an everyday necklace that won’t tarnish are worthy investments. You can also accessorize with sunglasses, or a hair accessory like a claw clip, and never go wrong.
    • Stores to look at: Kendra Scott, Linjer, GlassesUSA, Ray-Ban, Madewell, Amazon

Don’t Underestimate the Thrift Store

For the trendier pieces you may be looking for this fall season, don’t underestimate the thrift store! Trends tend to operate on a 20 year cycle, so what was trendy in the 90s and early 2000s is being revamped into today’s trends. For that low-waisted pant or leather jacket that you saw on Pinterest, don’t be afraid to go look through a thrift store. As the saying goes “what’s one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Thrifting is a fun way to find those trendier and vintage pieces without breaking the bank.

Give a Trend Some Time

In the age of fast paced social media, micro trends tend to come and go before they even get a chance to get off the ground. Before buying a trendy new top or pant you saw on Tik Tok, give the trend some time to see if it really takes off and is worthy of buying into, or if the trend will have moved on before you even get the chance to buy it. Not only does this save you some money, but it also helps prevent against over consumerism. I live by the 2 week rule: if you see it in stores or online, give it about 1.5-2 weeks and see if you are still thinking about the piece. If you are still thinking about it after that long, and you know how you will style it, then feel free to purchase it. This is a great way to save yourself some money and avoid over cluttering your closet.

Pick a Color Scheme

Picking a color scheme for your wardrobe makes it easier to buy pieces that will always go together. The best way to start this is to decide whether you prefer to dress yourself in lighter or darker colors, and then go from there. If you like how you look in lighter colors better, then don’t invest in a bunch of darker colored clothes because you most likely won’t wear them as much as you intended. Buy the color scheme that you know you will like on yourself, and enjoy what you wear!

With all that being said, have fun when styling yourself! Clothes are the easiest way to express yourself; however, they are not always cheap, and the cheapest option is not often the best. College is the perfect time to be investing in those pieces that you will have for a long time. Building strong basics for your wardrobe allows you to be able to invest in those few trendy pieces that come around every season, without having to break the bank buying a new pair of jeans or a sweater because the one you bought last year went out of style. Don’t underestimate the value of thrift and second hand stores when looking for those trendier pieces, but give those trends some time to see if they actually take off, or if they will die out before you even get the chance to enjoy them. Buy what you will actually wear, not what you think you should wear. Embrace your own personal style, and enjoy yourself!

I am an undergrad here at the College of Charleston studying Psychology and Neuroscience. I am originally from Connecticut, but fell in love with Charleston after my first visit. I love fashion, art, reading, and writing, and I love to share my ideas and what I learn with others. In my spare time you can find me in one of the many coffee shops downtown, or at the beach hunting for sand dollars.