have a huge fashion crush on Denise Huxtable. The free-spirited second eldest child on a sitcom that I’d rather not name, her style can be best defined as wholly committed. Whether she’s dressed like a Black bohemian or a college co-ed, she never doesn’t lean all the way in. The best kind of chameleon.

And if you pay close attention, beneath the layering and the maximalism and the general refusal to toe the sartorial line, there’s a through-line of unbridled creativity. Denim jackets are never just denim jackets for Denise; scarves are never just scarves. This is what makes her the ultimate fall style icon.

Armed with this bit of knowledge, I put together four fall looks from the Denise Huxtable mood board that has a permanent place in my brain. If you’re also looking to get in the seasonal mood, enjoy my Denise-inspired foray below.

1.The “No I’m Not A Mechanic But Could Play One On TV” Look

Myar boiler suit, Topshop denim jacket, Nicole Saldana shoes, vintage headscarf — similar here, Mars earrings, Emma’s own rings

Denise rocked a lot of earthy colors, like a khaki green that always reminded me of moss, so I knew I needed to incorporate that tone into at least one of my looks. This jumpsuit was perfect piece because it hit the color mark on the head and allowed me to look cute while comfortable, an art that Denise fully mastered. I layered Spanx leggings underneath it and an oversized denim jacket on top, which doubled as a belt (see slide 4!).

2.The “I’m Heading to Class at Hillman College” Look

My favorite Denise is the Denise of A Different World. For one season and one season only, Lisa Bonet’s character stars as a co-ed at the coolest fictional HBCU around (Hillman College), and her style for that season matched the school’s cachet. To achieve this collegiate look I layered a white button-down under a classic Hanes sweatshirt. To make it an off-the-shoulder look, I took some scissors to the back of the neck, snipped about a quarter of the way down, and voila! Denise-level innovation.

3.The “I’m Wholesome But Not Too Wholesome to Power Clash” Look

Tibi pants with vintage scarf as belt — similar here, Make Manifest vintage vest — similar here, J.Crew turtleneckG.H. Bass Weejuns loafers, Slow Factory scarf in hair

This look reminds me most of younger Denise — big into turtlenecks and wide pants, big into mixing patterns, big into using scarves as not scarves. Here I’m using a scarf as a headband, a feat which I achieved by utilizing a similar rolling technique as I did with the denim jacket (see slide 18), and a scarf as a belt (see slides 17 and 27) to hold up these Tibi pants, which feature two different plaids.

4.The “It’s Fall But I Still Want to Wear All My Flowy Clothes” Look

Derek Lam shirt, Emma’s own denim shirt — similar here, pants — similar here and necklace — similar here, Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes

And we end right where we began: in the comfiest of outfits. I channel Denise every time I wear these pants, so I knew I had to use them for this shoot. So glad I got to pair them with not one but two collared shirts AND a cardigan. Layering at its finest allows you to be comfortable throughout all the peaks and valleys of transitional weather temps and this triple top combo did just what it was supposed to. I’m also using Spanx leggings to keep the gauze pants cuffed, one of my best Denise-inspired style hacks yet.

What are your fall style hacks? Are you on my Denise wave? I’ll be in the comments waiting to hear it all.

Market and Styling Assistance by Elizabeth Tamkin; Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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