Fall 2024 Marks a Return to Fashion's Fundamentals

Eight no-fuss, no-frills items every wardrobe needs.

Future graphic of fall essentials like trench coats, maxi coats, white button downs and ballet flats
(Image credit: Future)

Before you learn to walk, you learn to crawl. Before you learn to read, you learn your ABCs. And before you start tackling fashion trends, you need to build out your collection of wardrobe basics. Button-down shirts, white tees, basic blue jeans—the no-fuss, no-frills pieces that get the job done without making too much fuss. The mindset for the current season very much celebrates the concept of fashion's fundamentals, with fall essentials like practical trench coats and ballet flats driving sales across retailers.

Moda Operandi's Director of Buying, RTW, Marc Rofsky, weighs in: "This season, there is an undeniable return to a cleaner, more minimal aesthetic. You can call it 'stealth wealth' or 'quiet luxury,' but at Moda Operandi, we just call it great, timeless style," he details to Marie Claire. "Perhaps it’s the pendulum swinging back from the post-pandemic Y2K-inspired over-the-top fashion we have seen in recent years or a desire for (sartorial) stability amid growing uncertainty in the world around us—in any case, we are embracing wearable investment pieces and easy must-haves, just in time for fall."

But where exactly should you shop for everlasting essentials? "Brands like The Row, Khaite, Brandon Maxwell, Toteme, By Malene Birger, Lou Lou Studio, Eterne, High Sport, and Beare Park are reliable pillars in the space, offering a wide range of pieces that make for a chic and easy wardrobe foundation," Rofsky shouts out. Ahead, you'll discover more of the shopping expert's insight on curating an edit of closet classics, as well as the eight indestructible items every wardrobe needs. And, yes, closet classics don't possess much pizzazz, but they offer something much more valuable: longevity. Because whenever that one microtrend fades into oblivion, and all that's left is dying Internet discourse and dust, these classic pieces will already be in your closet, patiently waiting for you to reach for them again.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of black maxi coats

(Image credit: Future)

"We love long coats this season: from tactile textures to cozy wrapped shapes or strong shoulders that assert confidence," Rofsky shares, specifically shouting out Toteme’s wool-cashmere wrap coat. If the Swedish label's price tags rocket way out of your budget, look to the cocooning coats offered by STAUD and Apparis.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of leather jackets

(Image credit: Future)

Even if edgier aesthetics don't align perfectly with your taste (perhaps you're more prim and proper than grungy rock-and-roller), a leather jacket belongs in your outerwear rotation. Try a classic moto option, like this one from All Saints, or, to tap into your more polished and prepster style, a sleek leather blazer.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of trench coats

(Image credit: Future)

A trench coat is another key building block to any solid outerwear collection worth its salt. Originally known for its utility (soldiers wore them while fighting in the—guess where?—trenches), the trench coats of today place an equal balance on both function and fashion.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of boxy shoulder blazer

(Image credit: Future)

"Tailoring makes a strong comeback this season, taking you from day to night with effortless ease," describes the Moda Operandi ready-to-wear expert. "Jackets with nipped waists range from looking feminine to fashion-forward when balanced against stronger shoulders like Wardrobe NYC’s contoured style. Boxy shapes like Khaite’s Malek jacket look great with a narrow pant or over a body-skimming slip, or worn as a dress with tights."

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of white button down shirts

(Image credit: Future)

Oh, a white button-down shirt—how we love you so. It's a standby staple—one you likely already have in your closet—that won't ever steer you wrong. Nili Lotan's collared tunic, which will serve as a neutral base in limitless combinations, is one of our top picks of the season.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of fine knit tops and dresses

(Image credit: Future)

Rofsky describes "luxurious knitwear," as seen at Fendi, Prada, and Proenza Schouler, as obvious cozy inclusions for your fall wardrobe. Look for somewhat sheer knit tops and "shrunken baby tees, from cotton to cashmere, to complete the look." Helmut Lang's semi-translucent collared button-down, with its sultry '90s slant, is a standout buy for the season.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of baggy relaxed trousers

(Image credit: Future)

"The key pant silhouette of the season is overwhelmingly the wide-leg trouser. It’s sophisticated, timeless, and easily styled back to knit tops, clingy tees, or blouses and shirting," Rofsky shares. In particular, he shouts out High Sport’s cult-hit high-waisted pants. "Launched exclusively on Moda last year, we sold out five times on the brand’s signature kick flare pull-on pant made from the brand’s proprietary knit fabrication that offers comfort and chic ease."

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of sleek leggings

(Image credit: Future)

Comfy dressers, rejoice! Leggings are back (well, one could argue they never really left; they've just been hanging out in your athleisure drawer). As Schiaparelli, Ferragamo, and Miu Miu exhibited, the everyday staple exhibits quite the elevated potential—it all comes down to the styling. Chic yet easy and wearable, this is how to wear leggings in 2023.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of baggy blue jeans

(Image credit: Future)

There's no need for us to wax poetic on the magic of a blue jean. You're well aware of its mighty power—and so is James Dean. For fall 2023, opt for looser, baggier cuts in true blue washes, like the below options by AGOLDE and Levi's.

Future made graphic from Fall/Winter 2023 imagery of ballet flats

(Image credit: Future)

A grounding theme of fashion as of late is honest wearability or, in other words, items that work for you and your lifestyle—which is precisely why ballet flats have observed such an astronomical rise and will continue to surge throughout 2023 and into 2024. The Row's Mary Jane flats are a hot-ticket item of the season, so if they catch your eye (and don't obliterate your fall footwear budget), add them to your cart before they inevitably sell out, as most items offered by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's label tend to.

Meet the Fashion Expert

Marc Rofsky
Marc Rofsky

Marc Rofsky is the Director of Buying, Ready-to-Wear at Moda Operandi.  He oversees Moda Operandi’s complete Ready-to-Wear portfolio across the Designer, Evening, Contemporary, Resortwear, Denim & Ski categories for both the in-season (Boutique) and next season (Trunkshow) lines of business. Prior to joining the Moda team, he held positions as Director of Wholesale for Valentino and Senior Buyer of Designer Ready-to-Wear at Barneys New York. 

Emma Childs
Fashion Features Editor

Emma is the fashion features editor at Marie Claire, who writes everything from trend reports to fashion featurettes and long-form profiles. Previously, she was Marie Claire's style editor, writing shopping e-commerce guides, assisting with market for fashion photo shoots, and assigning and editing fashion celebrity news.

Emma also wrote for The Zoe Report, Editorialist, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Mission Magazine. She studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University Lincoln Center. When she's not writing fashion deep-dives, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage, reading literary fiction on her Kindle, and baking in her tiny NYC kitchen.