Canada | Trends

Hot fall fashion trends that you can adapt for the office

This season’s offerings for both men and women combine luxe fabrics and rich colours for a comfortable, yet professional look

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Young man trying on casual jacket with partner at a men's storeWondering what to wear for fall? You can never go wrong by embracing good taste. (Getty Images/gilaxia)

Fall is here: time to power up our work schedules—and wardrobes—with some inspiring new items. Sure, office casual (even denim) may be here to stay for accountants in some offices, but the trend is far from universal. Besides, there are always those days when more formal attire is de rigueur. [See Office wear in Canada: the country’s best shops and designers]

Here are some of the season’s most noteworthy looks, for men and women. 

MEN: ANTI-TRENDS ARE IN

Wondering what to wear for fall? You can never go wrong by embracing good taste. In fact, according to the men’s magazine GQ, that’s what that this season is all about.

Lush, plush and luxe
As the cold winds start to blow, warm fabrics such as corduroy and fleecy alpaca are guaranteed to warm up your day—and your mood. “Those fabrics are especially well suited for men in a creative field or those looking for a casual look,” says Toronto-based image consultant Kara Brownlee. “You’ll find the trend in pants, blazers and coats—and more.” 

BOSS Nye wool-cashmere coatBOSS Nye Wool-Cashmere Coat (Image courtesy of Harry Rosen)

From caramel to cream
This season, one of the starring trends for men (and women) is what Brownlee calls the caramelization of neutrals. “It’s one of my favourites for fall,” she says. “Although blacks and navy are obviously still classics, I’m seeing more caramel, burnt orange and mustard yellow being paired with chocolate brown. The trend extends from cashmere to trench coats to pants and sweaters. I love the caramels and creams because they’re warm and inviting. And within that colour range, as with any neutral, you can always find a shade that complements your skin tone.”

Jackets meet sweaters
Sweater jackets are a natural for more casual business wear. As Shannon Stewart, vice-president, general merchandise management, at Harry Rosen Inc., points out in a seasonal guide: “Like sports jackets, they complete an outfit; you can wear them over anything from a knit to a button-down shirt with a knitted tie, and they are a nice alternative to a jacket in a casual business environment. Sweater jackets also double as outerwear—they make versatile layering pieces for our unpredictable fall weather.”

The (new) sports jacket
To go by this season’s showings, the trend toward sports jackets won’t be cooling off anytime soon. “The same jacket can take you from a business meeting to a more casual day at the office and then into the weekend, always looking totally appropriate,” says Stewart. “It’s as if it adapts to whatever else you’re wearing. Combine it with dress pants, a dress shirt and a tie and the look is only a notch less formal than a suit. Wear it with jeans and a T-shirt and it looks casual yet put-together.” 

John Varvatos bootsJohn Varvatos Seagher Chelsea Boots (Image courtesy of Harry Rosen)

Booting it up
Whatever your field, Chelsea boots are a shoo-in for this season. “Minimal and practical, the Chelsea boot lends a little edge to every outfit,” says Stewart. “The sleek design makes it a viable option for more formal occasions. Paired with a grey suit, and you'll achieve an elegant office look. It will look its best with pants cut at ankle height. (The boots will lose their rakish effect with a pool of wool fabric around them.) Switch to a slim pair of dark jeans and move effortlessly into the evening.”

Monogramization
If you’re into business casual—and even if you’re in a more conservative office—there’s room to play with details and accessories, says Brownlee. “I like to see men wear minimal touches such as a monogram on a sleeve, or a tie clip, or pocket scarf or fun socks,” she says. “And if you want to get a bit more flamboyant, you can throw in some animal print: a muted neutral tie or pocket scarf or cardigan. A touch like that is great for guys—and a little more unusual.”

WOMEN: LONGER HEMLINES, RICHER FABRICS

For office wear, women should find plenty to work with in this season’s offerings of plush fabrics and updated suiting trends. Here are some standouts.

Sandro Blaire floral print midi dressSandro Blaire Floral Print Midi Dress (Image courtesy Hudson’s Bay)

Darker florals
No need to bid farewell to your florals just because the colder weather is here. “Garden-inspired prints are always fun for women,” says image consultant Kara Brownlee. “They’re never revolutionary but it’s always nice to incorporate them into your wardrobe.” Floral prints also figured large in several collections this year, including Prada and Paco Rabanne. But unlike the summer prints, which featured roses, marigolds and delicate buds on a white backdrop, this season’s motifs are set on what trend watching site Who What Wear calls “dark, brooding backdrops.” 

Pistachio and purple
Some say burnt orange is the “embodiment of 2019,” but for Jade Alino, designated sales associate for the premium denim department at Hudson’s Bay, the big colour right now is pistachio. Purple is another headliner. 

“I love purple,” says Brownlee. “It’s the colour of royalty and it works with every skin tone because you can choose every shade from lavender to a deep dark jewel purple. It’s a little bit unusual and it can almost be considered as a navy if you go dark enough.”

SFW mini tote bagSFW Mini Tote Bag (Image courtesy of Hudson’s Bay)

Leopard and snakeskin charmers 
Although animal prints—including leopard—are a perennial favourite, snakeskin has climbed up the fashion ladder to become one of the season’s favourite prints. As Alino says, “It’s is a big trend in many of the neutrals that are coming in. You see it in shoes, dresses, belts, blouses—you name it.” Brownlee agrees, adding that python and other snake prints can be fun finds in shoes. 

Suiting: classic with a twist
This fall, suiting has a lot to do with taking what you already have and wearing it so it’s a little more updated, says Alino. “You might wear a statement belt over a suit jacket, for example,” she says. “You can also add a belt over an oversized blazer—it makes for a nice silhouette.” She also says we’re seeing different cuts in suiting. “Rather than a straight leg, you might have culottes as an option. And while buttons are traditionally sewn right in the middle of a jacket, they might be sewn a little off to the side.” 

Brownlee has a soft spot for boyfriend blazers, as well as longer jackets, especially when paired with slimmer pants and boots. And this season, she would probably take some of the colours and fabrics that are trending—“the velvets, the dark florals, leather on leather, the purples and lavenders”—and incorporate them into her jacket choices. “I’m a big fan of statement blazers,” she says. 

Kitten comfort
Brownlee also points out that kitten heels are back. “This is a trend that will make a lot of women happy—especially those who like to wear heels to work,” she says. Alino adds that you can find kitten heels on everything from boots to mules, often paired with a square toe. 

Another seasonal favourite for both Brownlee and Alino is the oxford shoe. “I think they’re amazing and super sophisticated and I like their androgyny,” says Brownlee.

Accessorize, accessorize
To most people, layering means wearing sweaters and jackets over thinner pieces. But this season, jewellery is also getting in on the action. “I’m seeing a lot of different pieces—often with crystals—worn on top of each other,” she says. “For example, you’ll have shorter-length necklaces worn together with longer necklaces.” 

Patterned tights are also back, says Alino. But the trend isn’t confined to thick, heavy tights. “You can find patterns in thinner hosiery as well. It might even have a little hue of colour. It’s still very sheer.”

Return to the 1970s
As always, being fashion forward often means looking back, and this year, the 1970s are the place to be. “If you’re following the latest trend, the ’70s are definitely back for fall,” says Alino. “We’re seeing a lot of corduroy, flare-cut pants and midi skirts in satin fabrics. For the office, you can pair a midi-length skirt with a blazer and/or a chunky knit sweater and a pair of knee-high or ankle length boot.”