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A Real Life Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

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holiday capsule wardrobe fashion plus size

The holidays are right around the corner, is your closet ready? I'm of the mindset that quality trumps quantity and you can achieve great style with a small wardrobe. My calendar is already filling up with events and I'm looking to find a hardworking holiday capsule wardrobe that will mix and match providing great looks for everything from casual occasions to more formal fetes. This holiday capsule wardrobe is created from items currently in my closet and over the month I will share outfit posts with me wearing these outfits so you can see how well the pieces mix and match.

The combination of navy with black is concerning to some, but please know that rule is beyond dated.  In fact, over the past decade, this color combination has become quite chic.  I prefer to have a holiday capsule wardrobe that isn't too kitschy or too holiday-specific so the pieces can work beyond the months of November and December.  Choosing navy and black was a specific choice to feel festive (blue has become a popular holiday color over the years, especially with silver), to feel formal (darker colors are easier to dress up), and to wear beyond New Year's. Below find outfits appropriate for your office holiday party, a post-work happy hour, cookie exchange at your neighbor's house, cocktail parties, family get-togethers, and even for New Year's Eve.  I specifically chose items and brands that have a decent size range – every item at least is available in sizes 6-24, and some have length options as well.

My Real Life Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

A holiday capsule wardrobe to create looks for every event on your social calendar from your office cookie exchange to a Christmas cocktail party.

Shop the Capsule:
black one-shouldered sweater | black camisole | navy cashmere sweater | white shirt | navy velvet-trim pants | navy sequined skirt | jeans (plus-size option) | navy velvet-trim blazer | shoes (low-heel option) | booties (not pictured but in collages below) | clutch bag | black pashmina | brooch | earrings
(all items featured are available at least between sizes 6-24, some have petite and tall options)

Sample Looks from the Holiday Capsule Wardrobe

With eight pieces of clothing and a few accessories, I created 14 outfits for work, evening, and weekend holiday occasions. Click on any thumbnail graphic in the gallery below to see the full-size images and descriptions. Hover over the images to find arrows to advance and go back within the gallery. If there’s an ad in the way, x it out to read captions. Click the X at the top right of an enlarged image to close the gallery and return to this blog post.

How to Personalize This Capsule Wardrobe

This is a capsule that can be built upon. Have an extremely formal occasion? Check out Etsy where I've found beautiful ball skirts custom made to my height and waistband for reasonable prices.  Pair it with the one-shouldered sweater and maybe add a sparkly belt.  Paired with the white shirt and it's Carolina Herrera chic. Wish to dress down the looks?  The blazer, as well as the sequin skirt, would look great with a navy and white Breton top, or even with a message tee or your favorite band t-shirt. If jeans aren't your thing, switch them out for a pair of black trousers in most any silhouette. If denim is your thing, it's easy to dress down some looks with a dark jean jacket replacing the blazer or a denim shirt in place of the crisp white one. Many of these pieces will easily transition into spring and still remain chic next fall and winter.

Accessories are simple, but this is a place where you can infuse your personality and add color, festive touches, or more drama.  Switch out the brooch at the collar for a black velvet ribbon, the smaller earrings for a larger style with more drama, the subtle black shoes and clutch for metallic or pieces that make more of a statement.  If you don't like rhinestones, pearls are a perfect alternative for this holiday capsule wardrobe.  And don't be afraid to up the holiday kitsch with tree ornament-inspired earrings, a snowflake brooch (I own this one and it's very pretty, has lasted for two years, and a fantastic price), or a specialty bag. When it comes to makeup, anything goes.  A red lip goes a long way for creating a holiday feel without wearing an ugly Christmas sweater.

I hope this holiday capsule wardrobe gets your creative sartorial juices flowing.  You may realize that you already have pieces in your closet that can be worn in a different manner to create similar looks, or how just one or two new pieces will give your existing wardrobe a fresh and festive life.  You don't need to spend a lot or own a lot to have a lot of style!  And stay tuned for outfit posts where I will show me wearing these looks (as I wear them, I will list them below).

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. This is so good. My go to holiday brooches include a candy cane and polar bear. So simple yet elegant ideas. Thank you.

  2. This is perfect! I don’t own these exact pieces but can easily swap in items from my own closet to give me the same idea. I don’t have any formal or semi-formal events this season. Instead, I need outfits for those dreaded “elevated casual” events. For example, I don’t own a sequined skirt and will substitute a pair of wide-leg pleated metallic culottes already in my closet in your capsule looks. I probably need to update my black camisole so that I can wear it under a cashmere cocoon cardigan or moto jacket I already own. I don’t enjoy wearing blazers and so don’t have any in my closet anymore. Thanks for the great inspiration!

  3. Love the flexibility of this capsule. And all of it still fits your personality.

    Any tips on wearing brooches without channeling my (beloved) grandmothers? I have quite a few, but never wear them.

    1. Other ways to wear brooches:

      –on a headband (fabric or plastic, just thread through; your mileage may vary depending on the shape, some of mine won’t stay on plastic headbands, but they work well on fabric ones)

      –wrap a (thinner) scarf around your neck and use the brooch either with the pin holding bits of the scarf together or as a slide

      –if you have a keyhole back in a gown or shirt, use a brooch to cover the top hook area

  4. Hi – Have really started liking navy again so appreciate the capsule ideas a lot.

    I would love to find a nice velvet blazer in either an XL or 1X that isn’t short…do not want something to highlight top of my thighs…almost everyone I see is 23-25 inches in length which is too short. Hoping to stay under $150.00 and would it be expecting too much to find one that is lined and a nice fabric too? I saw the Boden one but the velvet looks very “stiff”. Thank in advance for any suggestions/links from you or your followers.

    1. I don’t know how the Gap would work for you but they have some velvet blazers in the < $150 range. No Navy, just black and claret. Given that they run major discounts it might be worth looking at them. I like Boden but a velvet blazer is something I wouldn't wear too much outside of the holidays so I might not go for a big investment on that item.

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