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Too Cool for School: Your Pre-Fall Style Guide

Hello and welcome to almost Fall! I’d be lying if I said I was jazzed about the season change in its entirety, but I’m not immune to excitement over the prospect of (Oprah voice) laaaayeriiiiing! Below, I’ve highlighted three trends that I’m so ready to see queer gals putting their own twist on in the coming months; let’s get started with back to school and lesbian classic, plaid.

Plaid O’Plenty

1. Kirrin Finch Short Sleeve Shirt 2. Ruffle Sleeve Top 3. Torrid Camp Shirt 4. Sleeveless Tie-Front Top 5. Old Navy Long Sleeve Shirt 6. Off-the-Shoulder Top

Whether you’re going for a Gogo Yubari-type thing or you just want to look like someone who can start a campfire without a match, slap on a plaid shirt and, baby, I’m yours. But you know, I like a lady who can keep me warm and wrap me up in chains. I’m versatile like that.

1. Tapered Tab-Front Pants 2. Lands’ End Petite to Plus Pants 3. Charcoal Check Pants 4. Talbots Curvy Pants

Depending on how you wear them, plaid pants can be the perfectly preppy office look or given more of a punk flavor. Perhaps with a motorcycle or denim jacket. Which are both, perhaps, also included in this style guide.

1. Strappy Maxi Dress 2. Button-Down Dress 3. City Chic Plaid Miniskirt 4. Tie Front Miniskirt 5. Modcloth Wrap Skirt

For dresses and skirts, go full-on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or keep it mild in madras. Do your thing, girl.

1. Quilted Parka 2. Grey Blazer 3. Flannel Hoodie 4. Wrap Coat

Are you immune to the charms of a baby butch in a flannel hoodie? I didn’t think so. But also, I personally am not immune to a plus-size wrap coat with a scaled-up pattern. You look cold, girl; come join me in what’s essentially an extremely fashionable Snuggie.

1. Buffalo Check Hat 2. Tartan Band Watch 3. Canvas Sneakers 4. Clutch Bag 5. Tassel Loafers 6. Pointy Toe Pumps 7. Billabong Backpack

How about just a little taste of the good stuff? Accessories are a great way to put a precociously preppy, deliciously down-home, or enticingly edgy spin on an otherwise plaid-free look.

Leather Mommi

1. Lace-Up Top 2. “California” Distressed Tee 3. Sheer Panel Top 4. Sheer Ruched Sleeve Top 5. Shredded Shoulder Tee 6. Faux Leather Vest

Think plaid is for squares? I got you. Try a torn up, see-through, or (faux) leather top on for size; something that tells the world you might be at the show tonight, if you can find time between reapplying your eyeliner and smoking behind the bleachers.

1. Coated Moto Pants 2. Leather Panel Leggings 3. Coated Plus Jeans 4. Plus Moto Jeans

The pants menu features more leather-esque looks and tightly stitched details, to protect from motorcycle accidents or whatever other knee-bruising activities you have in mind.

1. Faux Leather Dress 2. Grommet Miniskirt 3. Lace-Up Miniskirt 4. Zip Pencil Skirt

What better way to wear a dress or skirt than by adding a healthy dose of domme? Do the bad nurse thing in a button-down number, go gaga for grommets, or sport a zipper that’s intended to be torturously long.

1. Plus Classic Biker 2. Stud Sleeve Jacket 3. Cascade Front Jacket 4. Cropped Plus Jacket

Basic moto jackets never go out of style, but a little something studded, short, or softly draped are all equally bad (in a good way) options. Vroom vroom, baby.

1. Metal Toe Boots 2. Zip and Buckle Boots 3. Fringed Bucket Bag 4. Ring Choker 5. Studded Belt 6. Harness

Opt for accessories that are heavy on the hardware. You know: a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll bondage. Just straight up bondage.

Blue Jean Babies

1. Chambray Tank 2. Chambray Button-Down 3. Patchwork Top 4. Color Block Button-Down 5. Off the Shoulder Top 6. Chest Pocket Button-Down

Now, a material (I think) we can all agree on: denim. On denim. On denim. Go for a classic Canadian tuxedo in a chambray shirt, or something patchwork or color blocked instead.

1. Plus Joggers 2. Patchwork Jeans 3. Chambray Joggers 4. Plus Patchwork Jeans

Remember that time I talked about patchwork denim? I really love patchwork denim. Also, drawstring waists. (praise hands emojis all around)

1. Patchwork Mockneck Dress 2. Patchwork Miniskirt 3. Lace-Up Skirt 4. Frayed Denim Dress

Then again, wearing what’s traditionally a pants fabric in dress form is pretty sweet too!

1. Longline Jacket 2. Drawstring Waist Jacket 3. Bleach Bomb Jacket 4. Cold Shoulder Jacket

And, while like biker jackets, a classically shaped and embellished denim jacket always looks good, I’m personally partial to the lovingly beat-up looks above (plus another softly draped option for good measure).

1. Frayed Sandals 2. Patchwork Tote 3. Drawstring Duffle Backpack 4. Blue Toms 5. Braided Choker 6. Baseball Cap

Finally, if you really want to go bonkers, there are a select few denim accessories out there that don’t entirely scream “Alloy catalog castaway circa 1996” (or, like, only scream it in the best way). Apply sparingly and with care. Or, you know, don’t.

So, sweethearts, what’s your look for Autumn 2017?

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Nora is a writer and shoot producer living in Brooklyn. Send her links to weird clothing and dog videos to nora [at] autostraddle [dot] com.

Nora has written 52 articles for us.


  1. ok i’m obsessed with these leather panel leggings and can’t move forward with my life until i own them.

  2. Ah yes, soon it will be time to shed my Summer Gay crop tops and blossom into a denim-adorned Fall Gay butterfly. Bring on the layers.

  3. This is perfectly timed, because it’s finally a little cool out post-heat wave, and it’s making me super excited for fall! (It’s not quite “layering” weather yet – just cooler than the “no matter what you wear you will be a puddle in 5 minutes” weather it’s been for a while.)

    (Also love the plaid and leather and Nora’s writing style as always, but ughhh patchwork denim is gross sorry.)

    • You won’t be if you wear it :)
      (which ftr isn’t the only reason I love wearing it but is one reason :))

  4. I feel like someone just stole items from my closet and posted them on the internet! Who else gets excited for LL Bean plaid flannel weather?! And that denim ball cap is so cute.

    • Oh my… is that the message I’ve been subconsciously transmitting this whole time? :0 I always wondered why some women give me “the look”. Still learning!

  5. Meanwhile in LA it’s going to be too hot to wear anything but tube tops and daisy dukes until November…how I miss actual fall!

  6. I really want a black pleather jacket but with a pair of black jeans not blue. I already have blue ones.
    Does pleather/leather automatically make your boobs look big though?

    • I personally have never noticed pleather making anyone’s boobs look bigger; if you’re concerned about that, though, I’d suggest going for a more generous cut like the top left jacket, rather than the other, more fitted options.

  7. Coming out as trans: gives away entire closet of plaid button ups because “women don’t wear plaid”

    A year into transition, looking at closet, wondering where all this plaid came from?

    I can’t help it :0

  8. So basically what dykes have been wearing since the dawn of time. Glad they’re not changing the uniform! :)

  9. This confirms my suspicion that Willow Rosenberg’s wardrobe is definitely back in style.

  10. Dear AS, SPEAKING OF DENIM: I have this excellent denim buttony-vesty-thing which I have NO IDEA how to wear. No sleeves? Doesn’t really button over my fearsome chest? Good waist length, probably would look good over some kind of dress, maybe? SEND HELP.

  11. This is everything to me. I have been slowly rebuilding my wardrobe in time for fall and I. AM. READY. Just hit up the thrift store and got a bunch of new plaid flannel shirts, a pair of legit mom jeans, and a perfect denim vest to embroider stuff on. I need more moto aesthetic, though. My favorite mint green moto jacket doesn’t fit anymore. I need a black one, tbh. I need some more badass duds. (Probably shouldn’t say duds if I’m trying to be badass. I am a fuddy duddy at heart. No shame, just facts.)

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