These 8 Retro Autumn Trends Will Always Be Cool

·5-min read

It's not just during #SecondhandSeptember that the team at Who What Wear finds inspiration in thrifting and trends of the past. There's at least two of us on the team—myself and Joy Montgomery—who are self-confessed vintage fanatics, and a great deal of our communication includes sharing great Etsy finds for each other or new Instagram dealers to bookmark. Joy has a monthly column dedicated to secondhand shopping, we extol the virtues of rewearing anything and everything as much as possible, and every time a new-season rolls around we try our very best to dig around for the trends that might already exist in your wardrobe or can be easily bought pre-loved. Autumn 2021 is looking particularly retro, which is fantastic news for those of us who like to look back and give a vintage spin to our modern wardrobes.

Yes, Y2K and the '90s continues to inspire many a brand and well-dressed person out there, but I'm talking about properly retro trends here: The type that were kickstarted in the '60s or '70s and still look cool now, many decades later. Look to the designer collections—Gucci, Max Mara, Nina Ricci, Stella McCartney—and you'll see plenty of references to the era of psychedelic prints, sharp-collared suits, platforms and prairie dresses. Move on over to social media and you'll find that even before these looks filtered into stores, the idea is translating IRL. I've been spotting girls trying out knee-high boots with bare legs, a return to flared jeans and much more. Some retro autumn trends are more classic than others, and have the potential to be pulled out time and again—they're all charted below.


They're called dagger collars for a reason—these guys are sharp! Whether on an equally retro printed shirt or adding a subtle twist to a simple, block-coloured dress, just this one old-school update always brings plenty of fashion kudos.

Shop the trend:

Dodo Bar Or Seth Bodysuit (£355)

Vintage 1970's Emerald Dagger Collar Blouse (£23)

Cos Silk Midi Shirt Dress (£135)


We've been experiencing a summer full of crochet, but this homespun trend shows no sign of slowing down for autumn. Think of crochet co-ords, patchworked jumpers and even full crochet dresses to layer up with boots, roll-necks and a suede jacket for the full vintage effect.

Shop the trend:

Sea Ziggy Striped Crochet Sweater Vest (£390)

Flook Natalia Pieced Crochet Skirt (£168)

Etsy Crochet Cardigan (£180)


Saks Potts may have popularised this coat trend a few years ago, but the truth is: Winter coats with furry collars and cuffs (and normally a belted waist) always come back into fashion each decade. You can opt for a classic colour like brown or black, or go wild with something vibrant, such as pink.

Shop the trend:

Saks Potts Foxy Sherling Coat (£849)

Jane & Tash Pink Faux Fur-Trimmed Leather Trench Coat (£550)

Vintage Belted Maroon Leather Coat (£59)


Whether '00s, '90s, '80s, '70s or '60s, there's a knee boot style out there for everyone and they're ALL trending. Try with bare legs now and segue into tights when it's time…

Shop the trend:

by Far Stevie Boots (£522)

Jeffrey Campbell Taysha Tall Boots (£258)

Vintage Orange Leather Boots (£105)


Flares are back, baby! And we couldn't be happier about it because they suit everyone and are a nice break from skinnies, but more polished than the current baggy jean trend. You can go for the full vintage look with platforms and a blouse, or simply combine them with a plain jumper or tee for a minimalist's take.

Shop the trend:

Frame Le High Flare Dark Blue Jeans (£235)

& Other Stories Flared High Waist Jeans (£65)

Vintage 1970s Oggi Dark Blue Denim Flared Bell Bottoms (£149)


If it's full of sleeve, high of neck and swooshy of skirt, then you know you're onto a retro dress trend that never fails to look good. Add in a vintage-inspired print, like paisley, and you're on track for one of those looks that makes a big entrance without you having to even think about styling or outfit building.

Shop the trend:

Zimmermann Tempo Dress (£2150)

Free People Dahlia Embroidered Maxi Dress (£158)

Vintage Origin by Liberty Prairie Dress (£98)


Tinted shades correlate directly with coolness, I'm sure of it! They never make someone look less cool, right? Bigger frames are in right now, but they've also been popular during the '60s, '70s, '90s and '00s, so well worth an investment.

Shop the trend:

Stella McCartney Aviator Sunglasses (£180)

Spitfire Cut Thirty Two Sunglasses (£45)

Cartier Vintage Brown Oval Sunglasses (£475)


Once miniskirts died out, a classic, easy-to-wear shape was born in the A-line maxi or midi. High-waisted and simply flaring out over the hips, this is one of those magical looks-good-with-everything pieces you'll come to rely upon, if only you'd try it!

Shop the trend:

Ganni Layered Midi Skirt (£225)

Autograph Leather Midi A-Line Skirt (£199)

Vintage 70s Green Gingham Print Maxi Skirt (£50)

Next up, the coolest London street style looks IRL.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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