Fall Fashion 2017: Stepping Into Boulder Style

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More than jeans and Crocs with socks

By Aimee Heckel

Boulder isn’t New York Fashion Week. We know that. But we’re more than jeans and Crocs with socks.

Right? Please! There are definitely growing pockets of great style in Boulder County, from trendsetting boutiques to local designers and stylists. And luckily for the rest of us, there are plenty of trends for Fall 2017 that meet Boulder where it’s already comfortable.

Of course, there are also a handful that will just never fly here.

Here are a few of this season’s top fashion trends that will blow a little vogue into the Boulder bubble without pushing us too far outside our groovy zone.

The Color of Fall

photo: Dean Drobot

Bright red is the big color this fall (some variation of red always is). And while a dramatic, fiery pop may not make sense in all circles, the secondary color for the fall is an easy greenlight—chocolate brown. A ’90s revival continues to richochet throughout 2017, and a no-fail way to don your chocolate is on your bottoms. Trade out your black pants for brown ones. Bonus: When you wear them hiking, the dirt won’t show as much.
Megan McKean, with Ramble on Pearl, says her Pearl Street shop is also seeing navy and charcoal for fall.

“These colors are perfect for Boulder: relaxed and warm colors. We think Boulder will definitely fit with all the big 2017 fall fashion trends,” she says.

Walk On

Colorado, you’re a style setter this fall. (That’s not a sentence you hear every day.) Big-time designers, like Calvin Klein, are bringing out cowboy-inspired designs, including sexy steel-toed boots. Boulderites probably already have a pair in their closet.

photo: shoe fly

Stop it with the Uggs already (I’ve been saying that for about a decade but no one listens—gosh) and step up your style with your, uh, mud-kickers. Toss in a fringe accent for fun. Yup, somehow fringe is still happening. But I’m not sure Boulder will be able to handle feathered fringe. It’s a little too crazy-ostrich-lady, which is like the crazy cat lady’s even crazier aunt.

photo: wikimedia

But know what’s not haps in Boulder? Super-extreme-glittersplosion-bedazzlemonster boots, like you’ve seen on Rihanna. They just aren’t practical for a trek up muddy Chautauqua. I mean, who wants to clean trail trash out from between all those rhinestones?

Want to try something extra but not extra-extra? Marian Rothschild, a personal-image consultant in Boulder, says the county might be able to handle the white go-go boot fad—because it harks back to the glory days of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Athleisure Everything

My favorite items of clothing are the stuff I can wear to work, on a date and to the gym. Colorado does athleisure pro level. For a while, it was the skinny yoga pants. This fall, both men and women should switch them out for looser joggers that are tight on the ankles, or cooler yet, leisure suits. Don’t panic; these still have elastic waists and no zippers. I’m not cruel. I would never ask you to zip or button your pants.

Chill Out & Stay Warm
Diamonds Delight
Kick It Up A Notch

Forever Plaid (No Really, Forever)

Every fall, plaid comes back in vogue and everyone tries to act like it’s a new, big thing. This year, designers will tell you to look for the 1970s style of plaid over the Nirvana 1990s variation. But no one here will care. Pull out your favorite ol’ plaid shirt, skirt, dress or even pants and pretend it’s novel. If you want to accessorize it right, pick a wide waist belt.

photo: fashionstock.com

Fall 2017 thinks it’s fall 1970, also look for super wide-cut trousers and gauchos, leather mules, tweeds and all that oldie-goodie, never-quite-out-of-style stuff, other local style experts say. However, consume your vintage one bite at a time, like wear an old sweater with modern jeans and booties. If you stack too much retro on top of even more retro, you risk a cheesy costume sandwich that is too indulgent for B-town.

The ’70s are a trend for menswear, too, as big designers like Fendi and Prada have shown. A few of these accents will work in Boulder. I mean, the Woodstock beards have already taken over most of the manscape, and there’s no need to start shaving soon. A few local hipsters might even get down with a vintage cardigan, blazer or jacket (think oversize lapels, deep V-necks).

photo: Everett-Art

If you do want to borrow one style from the ’90s, choose a velvet dress for your next special event. Boulder will welcome this fabric on a chilly fall evening, assuming it actually gives us a respectable snow this year. Look for velvet everything, including camis and pants, in gray, black, blush and navy.

Bundle Up

Belted coats are bigger than beet juice on the Naropa campus.
Especially nylon jackets, which are an easy match for an active lifestyle. Retro-style fur coats are also in, for both men and women, yet wearing one around here is the quickest way to burst the Boulder bubble. Even faux fur will earn you growls. Even purple faux fur that you joke is the coat of the world’s last unicorn.

photo: Claudia K

If you’d rather not spark a protest, skip the fur-collar trend, too. Instead, you could try a high-necked Victorian-style collar. Bonus style points if it’s impractically covered in buttons. Although the average local resident is going to want more breathing room for their oms and pranayamas, and Buddha knows, a high neck might restrict the already thin Flatirons air. Try this trend at your own risk.


Aimee Heckel is a longtime, Boulder-based, award-winning fashion columnist and head writer for TravelBoulder.com.