How to Combine Fall’s Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

How to Combine Fall’s Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark
Photo: Ashley Gallerani Photography.

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Coco Chanel once said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” I live by the opposite mantra. As a textbook maximalist, I’m constantly looking for ways to mix and match prints, combine dynamic textures and pile on accessories. Take one thing off? Nah—I’d rather put five (more) things on.

This year, fall fashion has indulged my wildest fantasies. Designers and retailers are embracing tons of statement-making trends. Fall sequins are officially a thing. Plaid just got a Technicolor upgrade. Animal prints are brighter and bolder than ever. Fashion’s gate-keepers have turned up the volume on literally everything in the sartorial sphere, and it’s up to the rest of us to parse our way through it.

How can we take advantage of all of these incredible maximalist-friendly trends without looking like we got dressed in the dark?

MORE: Is It Possible to Wear Fall’s Western Trend Without Looking Like a Cowgirl?

I challenged myself to spend a week embracing as many of fall’s most daring trends as possible. Everything was on the menu—animal prints, statement sleeves, luxe velvet fabrics, dad sneakers, sequins, suiting, plaids, logomania, oversized clothing. I even threw in fall’s favorite color, rust.

To keep myself from getting overwhelmed (even maximalists have their limits), I set a few ground rules:

  1. I gave myself five minutes to pick out a look.
  2. I wasn’t allowed to look in the mirror until after I put the entire outfit on.
  3. I needed to include at least three trends in each look.
  4. I was only allowed to make minor adjustments to the outfit (the more you fuss with an outfit, the more toned down it gets).

Check out my attempts at maximalist magic below—complete with a rundown of the trends included and my (honest) feelings about each look.

Sequin Central

simplyaudreekate stylecaster 71 How to Combine Falls Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

Trends: sequins, metallics, plaid, suiting, colorful faux fur, dad sneakers, logomania, velvet, statement earrings, stacked gold necklaces

Daytime sequins can be intimidating. Most of us reserve our sparkliest looks for sequin-worthy occasions, like New Year’s Eve, bachelorette parties and trips to Las Vegas. But the office? Scary.

I grabbed my sequin pencil skirt and paired it with a plaid blazer, logo sweatshirt, chunky sneakers and oversized yellow faux fur coat. Then, I layered on some statement earrings, gold stacked necklaces and a velvet bag.

To keep the look cohesive, I stuck to one primary color—yellow—and kept the rest in neutrals and metallics. Even though the outfit was made up of a whopping 10 trends, it felt approachable—like something I’d actually wear during the week. Plus, all the statement-making pieces are easy to work into lower-key looks.

The verdict? This outfit is great for casual “dress code” moments—like particularly fun days at the office, or moments where you’re bouncing between professional life and personal life.

ASHLEY GALLERANI PHOTOGRAPHY

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

simplyaudreekate stylecaster 21 How to Combine Falls Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

Coat, $89 at Lulus | blazer, $248 at Guess | ‘Girls’ sweater, $48 at Valfré | skirt, $55 at Lulus | Dolce Vita sneakers, $94.50 at Bloomingdale’s | Furla purse | sunglasses, $329 at Maui Jim  | H&M earrings (similar here) | Spaceship necklace, $50 at Little Rooms | locket necklace, $89 at Mejuri | coin necklace $170 at Alex Mika

Animal Instincts

simplyaudreekate stylecaster 81 How to Combine Falls Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

Trends: leopard print, snakeskin, rust, faux fur

For this outfit, I wanted to stack as many animal prints into one look as possible. It wasn’t my initial intention to have a muted palette—especially since colorful animal prints are so popular at the moment—but the final outfit felt chic, elevated and not in your face.

Each animal print was a different size—a large leopard print on the top, a micro print on the skirt, a tight snakeskin on the shoes and a subdued crocodile print on the clutch. I added a pop of tortoise print with my earrings and sunglasses and finished off the look with a fuzzy details, like a faux fur collar and rust coat.

This outfit felt sophisticated and understated, in a good way for a “maximalist” outfit. It’s not something I’d usually style—but I really, really love it.

simplyaudreekate stylecaster 10 How to Combine Falls Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

simplyaudreekate stylecaster 41 How to Combine Falls Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

H&M coat (similar here and here) | Lush dress (worn as a top), $45 at Lulus | skirt, $48 at Lulus | boots (similar here) | clutch, $46 at Lulus | sunglasses, $12 at Lulus

Turn Up the Volume

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Ashley Gallerani Photography.

Trends: statement sleeves, mixed prints, oversized clothing, white boots, statement earrings, animal prints

Talk about a statement blouse. The sleeves practically have their own zip code, the exaggerated train is not for the faint of heart, and the “Starry Night” print is a conversation starter in and of itself.

When I started putting this look together, I was apprehensive. I had no idea what to pair with this top, because I didn’t want to distract from it—but i didn’t want to clash with it, either. I thought a dress pant would feel fancy enough to keep it cohesive, and a solid color (red) could hold its own against the print.

I kept the rest fairly straightforward: tassel earrings that matched the pants, white boots that evoked one of the top’s most eye-catching colors and a leopard-print clutch. (Animal prints—when rendered in subdued palettes—are basically neutrals, you guys.)

Though intimidating, this look was probably my favorite of the three—simply because I wish I could wear this wrap blouse every single day. I felt like a complete badass traipsing around New York City in this outfit, and I instantly resented every sleeve I’ve encountered that didn’t offer the same poof.

simplyaudreekate stylecaster 31 How to Combine Falls Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

simplyaudreekate stylecaster 51 How to Combine Falls Boldest Trends Without Looking Like You Got Dressed in the Dark

Ashley Gallerani Photography.

Rushton top, $995 at Aje | pants, $49.99 at ZARA | sunglasses, $12 at Lulus | earrings, $14.99 at H&M | Vince Camuto boots (similar here) | clutch, $109 at Talbots

Final Thoughts

Not gonna lie, I’m pretty proud of this challenge’s results. Going in, I felt a lot of pressure to live up to the “maximalist” label I’ve been so apt to give myself; I honestly wasn’t sure I’d be able to sport this many trends without looking totally absurd.

I did have to make a couple changes along the way. Look 1 originally featured a graphic tee, but I swapped it for the yellow sweater—both because the sweater offered a way into the logomania trend, and because it matched the coat.

MORE: A Brief Exploration: Are Cargo Pants in Style Now?

I couldn’t decide between the dress and skirt for Look 2, so I forced a compromise and wore the dress as a top. (I ended up loving this combination!) And in Look 3, I ran through a few sets of pants before settling on those red trousers. I tried a blush velvet trouser and a flared jean, but both seemed a little too different from the top.

Consider this your excuse to try a new trend—or even better, to try a whole bunch of trends at once. My advice: Give yourself a time limit, grab the first things you see and don’t look into the mirror until you’re done getting dressed. It can keep you from falling into analysis paralysis, and it can also be a really fun way to change up your morning routine.

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