As autumn approaches, so does the all-too-familiar wave of nostalgia associated with the return to school and the approaching holiday season.
We’re reminded of crisp walks to and from our childhood bus stop, hurrying to class on paths decorated with fallen leaves and cozying up inside with friends and a hot coffee.
This year, it’s hard to not think of the times where the start of the school year did not involve staring at a Zoom meeting screen. This leads us to wonder how loosening COVID-19 restrictions would affect the new looks for this fall semester.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, those who were unable to make new memories with friends and loved ones or bond over stories of past adventures due to social distancing requirements found a new outlet for their nostalgic inclinations: fashion.
Amid quarantine, no occasion warranted purchasing an entirely new wardrobe or even back-to-school clothes, so many people found stylistic satisfaction through repurposing old clothes already available to them. As New York Times writer Lou Stoppard explains in his article The Joy of Old Clothes, “Instead, we have been forced to look closer at what we already own, rather than what we might. We have become anthropologists in our own closets, finding comfort, security, relief, meaning and, on occasion, answers.”
Stoppard’s point rings true for many college students, especially those who have found themselves sifting through their closets as well as their sisters’ and mothers’ for wearable pieces on a budget.
Behavioral psychologist Professor Carolyn Mair, Ph.D., digs deeper into the unconscious reasoning behind this sudden desire to relive the past through fashion.
Mair believes that “‘We are more likely to feel nostalgic when we’re feeling unhappy or lonely, or things are not going well. Therefore, deliberately engaging in nostalgic (idealized) memories can boost our mood and help us ‘escape’ from the uncertainty and turmoil we’re living in today.”
Whether its origins lie in necessity or comfort, it remains true that COVID-19 has catalyzed a rise in trends involving thrifted and vintage-inspired pieces that persist through this fall season.
This fall semester, a wave of collective nostalgia is seen through a rise in popularity of trends that are easily thrifted or achieved by repurposing clothes already in one’s old wardrobe. Styles from the ’90s and Y2K era are particularly ‘in’ this season, as college students and young adults find themselves thinking back on the pieces that they aspired to wear growing up.
Here are five of the most popular nostalgic fashion trends for your fall wardrobe:
1. Vibrant Sweaters
Move over, Ashleigh! This season, we’re opting for colorful knitwear in shades of hot pink, sunset orange, matcha green, and royal blue instead of the typical fifty shades of beige. Choose a striped or patterned sweater for a bonus ‘70s callback!
2. Midi Skirts
Yes, you can still wear skirts in fall! Midi skirts are the perfect choice for that transitional period where it’s too cold for shorts, but still too hot for jeans and a sweater. Floral or statement prints allow a midi skirt to be the focal point of your outfit, so don’t be afraid to throw on some ankle socks and fall boots!
3. Low-Rise Denim
Pinterest and Tik Tok went wild for low-rise jeans this past year, and this trend will continue into this fall season! The low-rise silhouette will give you major Y2K cool-girl points, and you can always throw on a cardigan or zip-up hoodie for those crisp fall mornings.
4. Oversized Coats
Popularized by the infamous North Face Nuptse 500 puffer jacket last winter, oversized coats, and jackets are here to stay! The comfiness and effortless 90’s coolness of a black trench coat or bomber jacket over a ‘basic’ outfit makes for the easiest fall outfit imaginable. Bonus points if yours is thrifted!
5. Chunkey Jewelry
This fall, don’t be afraid to accessorize with some resin jewelry, in all its colorful, charming, chunky goodness (lol). Beaded necklaces, dangly earrings, and colorful resin rings can completely elevate an otherwise basic “I’m late to class, so here’s a sweater and jeans” outfit! Many retailers on Depop and Amazon offer jewelry in earth tones and jewel tones which are perfect for fall, so why not treat yourself?