Fashion is a product of the designer’s creativity…but it also an indicator of the times. Fall 2020 fashion trends are influenced by the pandemic, widespread unemployment and other economic pressures, social activism and the fight for racial justice, concerns about the environment, LGBTQ pride, online shopping and challenges associated with social isolation.
Perusing the fall looks on department store websites like H&M, you see a recurrence of themes and terms…
- Athleisure/street wear
These terms reflect consumer needs for comfortable, casual clothing while working and learning at home. It also reflects a need to use what people already have because, for many people, budgets are tight. The fall fashions of 2020 haven’t departed too much from what are already in people’s closets. Almost always, you see a change in jean styles. But this year, I still see high waisted shorts and jeans and skinny jeans, for example, enduring from years past. The newer look in jeans are high-water (above the ankle) boot leg or slightly flare cut.
A lot of youth fashion continues to have a hand-me down or broken-in,
thrift store look, reflecting the desire to appear original but not overly affluent or pretentious. Another youthful trend is the athleisure or street wear looks that convey a confident, urban vibe.
But along with that, I am also seeing a kind of “rebellious” fashion that harkens back to edgy 80s and 90s styles, een in couture. I think in the “woke” culture and evolving awareness and activism of the young generation, we are seeing people embrace their creative side and their self expression through clothing. This is where we are seeing bright colors, lots of black and punk influences on fashion looks.
Whether you get your clothes from Walmart, H&M, Zara, Target or the more expensive department stores and boutiques, here are the 2020 fall fashion trends you will see in stores that were presented by couture and ready to wear designers on the runways during Fall Fashion Week in New York.
- Outerwear – shearling coats were a big trend, along with wool ponchos and capes.
Shoes – Kitten heels and block heels are still in style. Booties are still in style.
- Ruffles on shirts and calf-length, dirndl skirts, even suits.
- Plaid is always big for fall. This year, the plaids are reminiscent of 90s grunge patterns but fashioned into feminine dresses or blouses with ruffles or more edgy in dresses and jackets with asymmetric hems. Along with this 90s, Doc Marten style bootss in a variety of colors are in for casual footwear.
- A kind of prairie/country look, incorporating patchwork, lace, more ruffles, peasant-style tops, puff sleeves (for the young), challis, smocking, calf length skirts, and cut-off hems on skirts and jeans. It’s old-fashioned, flowy and feminine.
- Camisoles with lace edging worn with suits and blazers — remember that from 2008? As well as bustiers as a layering piece.
- Geometric patterns, especially color-blocked in fall brights with black, for a classy look that conveys confidence and is great for work.
- Athleisure and “street wear” looks for juniors and young men (influenced by singers like Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa). You even see athletic striping on Talbot’s women’s wear trousers this fall.
- Purses: Few black or navy purses this fall. Nothing drags down a look like a black purse. All the purses I’m seeing are in light colors (ivory, light rose, saddle tan), even when paired with black and dark color clothing. Here is a purse that will meet your budget for $22 at Walmart. Fanny packs for teens and 20s are still in.
Colors of the Fall 2020 Fashion Palette
I love learning about color because it is so interesting how events in our world influence our tastes. The fashion colors for fall are not just seen in clothing. You will also see them displayed in
- Magazine layouts and graphics
- Website and online advertising graphics
- Packaging for fall products, like Bath and Body Works pump hand soaps
- Home goods, like pillows, throws and other accessories
- Fiesta Ware plates
- Kitchen Aid stand mixers — this year’s color is Kyoto green
- Bridal bouquets
- Interior paint colors. For example, painting a single wall a soft black is a paint decorating trend.
The colors of fall were uniform across many retailers. As you may know, Pantone announces a color of the year each year. The color of the year for 2020 is classic blue. This is a clear, lapis shade of blue It is a color that looks great on everyone and also that looks great on television. It is also the color of our beautiful planet when viewed from afar. Is it any accident that blue is associated with the Democratic Party? I think that is not a coincidence. So, this particular shade of blue is big this fall.
In terms of neutrals, we are seeing black, often in softer, greyed black (Walmart calls this color “soot”). The rose/tan neutral color is still in, as is an almond beige/ivory for fall. I saw a lot of vanilla colored handbags on the runways with those bright outfits. A new neutral is a soft pewter metallic which may replace the rose gold trend.
When looking at the fall palette, you will notice that the colors are cool shades (blue undertones) instead of the warm shades (yellow undertones) we traditionally associate with autumn. To me, these tones reflect a serious influence that has grown in 2020 — but also some unique and self-expressive color combinations and offbeat colors not typically associated with fall. As I said, the color palettes across retailers are very similar but the names of the colors vary. I like Walmart’s description of the 2020 fall colors, so I will list those. The comfy looking Time and Tru sweatshirt for women is being sold in all these trending colors for $11.44 and zip up hoodies for $12.44. So, you can hop on the comfort/athleisure trend AND wear a trending fall color for not a lot of moolah.
- The classic blue, as mentioned, called “Corsair.” A wool winter coat or cape in this color would be on-trend. Imagine the blue of lapis or sodalite and you are on the mark for this lovely shade.
- The soft black, called “Soot.” Used as a neutral but also this fall as the main “color” of dresses, jackets and tops. Also in variations of charcoal gray. These are big colors for walls and kitchen cabinets.
- The ivory with a touch of rose — more a neutral than pink? Seen on handbags, sometimes called Almond.
- The pink this year is a light, dusty rose — you see this on some of the “prairie” looks and challis fabrics.
- The lovely fuschia/raspberry shade, called “Magenta Quartz”
- The clear orange color, called “Harvest.” A blue undertone, medium value orange, less “pumpkin” than last year.
- The sage green is called “Green Amber” – also a cool variation of olive green that is more drab than yellow.
- The medium, caramel brown/saddle brown is called “Cinnamon Spice.” Seen on leather boots, purses, cardigans and patterns (leopard, plaids).
- The blue-ish burgundy is called “Wine Fusion.”
- Not included, but a big fall color is a deep red/brick/crimson.
Not included but also big — and also surprisingly spring-like for fall — is a pale, pale green that has some yellow in it. For some designers, it veers toward Chartreuse, others, it’s more like celery or light pistachio or very pale sage. It has a Japanese feel to it. Kitchen Aid used it for their color of the year on their stand mixer and called it “Kyoto Glow.” H&M simply calls it “light green” and you can see it in this dress that incorporates a lot of fall trends.
Other 2020 Trends of Note
Wonder what people are spending money on during the pandemic? I’m glad you asked! Check out this website for some fascinating products that are hot right now.
- Campers, camper vans and tents – as people look for socially distant vacation options
- Deluxe pet accessories and furniture – all pricey, some high-tech
- Snack and dessert foods – because we are at home; not eating out as much as usual
- Coffee and tea cups that don’t spill
- Blue light blocking eyeglasses – for telework and distance learning
- Black Lives Matter and activism message t-shirts and sweatshirts
- Attention-getting face masks and anything to with survivalism
- Products that reflect a new appreciation for diversity: bandages and ballet toe shoes to match a variety of skin tones.