Capsule Wardrobe for the Weekend Warrior

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The older I get, the less complicated I want my wardrobe. I remember a time when I bought things less to wear than to have hanging like art in my closet. Now, serenity comes from a smaller closet, fewer choices, but more pieces that make me happy each time I reach for them.

capsule wardrobe casual weekend winter fall

This winter I really created a great capsule of casual clothing. In the past I spent so much time focusing on work clothes and cute outfits for nights out that I ended up spending weekends in weird hybrids of work blouses with ill-fitting jeans or schlubby sweats. I decided to make a casual fall and winter capsule based upon the one I have created and share why it works for me.


When it comes to a casual capsule wardrobe, it’s best to stick to similar silhouettes. The more pant widths and blouse lengths you add, the more you need to adjust, and the less chance things will pair nicely together. Choosing all straight or slim leg pants keeps things simple. This winter you’ll find me in heavyweight ponte leggings from NYDJ, black twill skinny jeans from NYDJ, and a few different straight or skinny jeans in different washes and finishes (my favorite this year is the Real Straight from Gap, which can fit into a pair of tall boots or look great with regular shoes). I wear skirts a lot on weekends; with a pair of fleece tights a flippy ponte skirt can be as easy as leggings but be more figure flattering and fun. I baby all the pieces as much as my work clothes, washing them on gentle and line drying to keep their color and shape.

Sweaters have been big this season, making it easy to find classic styles in most any color that you’ll love now and years from now. I purchased a cream cable-knit sweater which makes an appearance most every weekend. I’ll pair with the skirt and tights for dinner with friends, or slip on with jeans and tall boots to run errands. A thicker “grandpa” cardigan slips more easily over thicker knit base layers, keeps your hips and rear warm, and gives a slouchy cool vibe. I’ll pair it with black skinny jeans, a band tee, and chunky silver jewelry to give a bit of a rock and roll feel, but it can get classic with a striped tee and brown boots or the black skirt. This has been my year for ponchos – I have this one from BP. that I love pairing with a striped tee and tall boots. Cinching the poncho with a wide leather belt gives a completely different effect and can dress it up quite nicely for dinner out.

My three main base layers have been a plaid flannel shirt, striped tees, and band tees. I usually wear the flannel peeking out of the cream cableknit or under my puffer vest, but often use it as an accent, tying it around my waist to add interest to a dress or outfit. Striped tees are my signature and I have many of them, but find a blue-black or dark gray slim stripe on a light ground to be the most versatile and flattering. Band tees are another signature piece for me, I cut the hems off the sleeves, cut off the collar and stretch out the neck for a more feminine fit. I love how they fray and stretch more with wear and washing, becoming more and more a custom piece. Nothing better than an old weathered band tee under a crisp blazer!

Sweater and sweatshirt dresses have been popular this year and that’s great for us weekend warriors. I have this navy sweatshirt dress from last year and this year purchased this sweater dress. While I can wear them to work, I usually wear them on weekends with fleece tights for a pulled-together look that’s as comfy as sweats. I’m loving the mix of gray, black, and brown leather and think this gray sweater dress would look fantastic with black tights and black Chelsea boots, or even with the tall brown boots. Add a belt to change the look completely.

As for accessories, I’ve been wearing more brown leather and gold accessories than in the past and find it easiest to have a bag that’s neither black nor brown and with subtle hardware. This way, I don’t have to keep changing my bag, and my bag becomes an accent piece. I’ve been loving my distressed brown leather tall boots, they add a touch of class to oversized knits and band tees; short black ankle boots work with jeans of all leg width and also look cute with leggings and skirts. Choosing quality brands and comfortable fit, I don’t miss my sneakers. I used to match my sunglasses to my jewelry, but now just always wear my gold and green Ray-Ban oversized aviators; they’re a classic and go with everything. An oblong scarf in cotton or lightweight wool adds warmth as well as interest to an outfit; in the past I’ve always chosen a signature solid colored scarf but lately like mixing patterns and have been gravitating towards the printed scarves in my collection. A brown leather belt is such a great accessory to have; if it’s a tone similar to the boots it can pull a look together, and it looks great cinching knits, dresses, and replacing the cheesy belts that come with many dresses. Finally, I can’t recommend Revlon’s Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic enough. It is a sheer cherry red that makes you look like Snow White. It hydrates, adds a natural bit of shine, can be applied without looking in a mirror and fades away slowly and evenly. I carry it with me everywhere; my weekend face is brows, mascara, and Romantic.

There’s nothing wrong with having a uniform. There’s nothing wrong with wearing the same pair of jeans two (or three!) days in a row. And there’s nothing wrong with people seeing you in the same outfit twice. If something works for you, stick with it. Life is busy enough, save the time trying to make outfits and use it for living the life in those outfits!

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. Love revisiting this – I’m a stay-home mom. How much would you add to make this capsule work for a week, rather than a weekend?

    1. I don’t think you’d need much more, maybe one more bottom and two more tops. They mix and match so well you can revisit pieces mid-week and no one would be the wiser. I’d focus on pieces that are likely to need more laundering – base knit tops, jeans and pants.

  2. I really love this capsule, Allie! Almost everything on here is seen in my closet in some way, shape, or form 🙂 My goal on the weekends is to be SUPER comfortable, but also look presentable and put together, so I’m a huge fan of ponte leggings, skinny jeans, oversized sweaters/cardigans/wraps, and sweatshirt/fleece dresses this time of year. And boots – definitely boots!!

  3. “In the past I spent so much time focusing on work clothes and cute outfits for nights out that I ended up spending weekends in weird hybrids of work blouses with ill-fitting jeans or schlubby sweats.” –> Have you been snooping in my closet? 😉 I so need this post – thanks Allie! 🙂

  4. I love the just bitten in crush begun which I think they replaced with just crush, and romantic, and they are great. Crush is berry toned on me and can layered for more impact.

  5. OMG, Revlon Balm Stain, where have you been all my life? After reading your post I marched straight to the drug store and bought some in Romantic. THIS is the lip product I’ve been looking for my whole (adult) life – I don’t like wearing true lipstick except for special occasions, and glosses and tinted lip balms always came close, but they wore off way too fast and never actually made me feel like I was wearing lip balm. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! The color Romantic is a bit red for me, but I think I can pull it off. I might go get another color as well. THANK YOU! May they never stop making this!

    1. RIGHT?!?!?!?! I have almost a dozen of these crayon-like things from Revlon – some more shiny than Romantic, some like Romantic, but Romantic by far is my jam. I have a couple because I fear losing it. I’ve loved it for over a year and every season too. At such a price (and CVS always has deals on Revlon) it’s not that painful to risk trying a new color!

      1. Ooh, good tip. CVS stores are slowly opening around where I live so I’ll have to make a pilgrimage! I usually wear more of a berry color – any suggestions?

        1. The LacquerBalms are a bit shinier and don’t stay on quite as long but I still really like. Whimsical is a blue-toned berry from that line that is pretty. I have Crush from the regular Just Bitten line and I thought it would be a dark wine color but it’s a deep berry. Smitten is more of a pinky berry-ish color which I didn’t love on me but you may like on you!

  6. Love this post. This past fall I purposely bought several weekend wear items as I was bored with the sweater/jeans combos I had been wearing forever. I’m looking for a few more items with the great sales now. But truth be told, I’m falling back on heavy sweats and layers with this bitter cold weather we’re having so I avoid leaving the house as much as possible.

    1. At home I am in fleece running tights, socks, slippers, a giant sweater coat and a hat, tres chic, no? I’ve been loving fleece tights and leggings, wool socks, silk sock liners (Lands’ End has them) and cashmere beanies to try to replicate the cozy home look but have it not scare passers-by. I hear you, this weather makes me want to hibernate until spring!

  7. Just bitten stain makes you look like Snow White? Girl, you wake up looking like Snow White (okay, with bed head) … but still Snow White! Love your weekend capsule. Am pinning and pouring over it later for fashion tips.

  8. So I don’t really have band tees, but what about my sports team tees? Ladies cut dark grey tee for soccer team, ladies cut black tee for NFL team.

    1. I say wear a tee that speaks to you! Doesn’t have to be a band tee, it can promote your favorite sports team, superhero, or college. However, it’s important that is has a flattering fit, isn’t one of those crisp stiff tees with the even stiffer silkscreening on front that makes you have a monoboob, and isn’t a really jarring print that distracts from the rest of the outfit. But yes, having a shirt that speaks to you is embracing your personal style, and a subtle shirt promoting your passion can work just as well as a band tee!

  9. Hey Allie – the link to fleece tights isn’t linking to a particular pair, just the BareNecessities website. And the only pair of fleece tights on there doesn’t look great. Can you confirm what brand you wear? I’m cold. 🙂

    Also, I love this post! I’ve been focused on work wear lately, but casual wear is more fun. 🙂 I’m ready to spend some time thinking about my own weekend capsule.

    1. Oh boo, mine are… olablu? I got them at Nordstrom but also saw them at Bare Necessities as they were sold out at Nordstrom by time I wrote this. I know Target has fleece tights but I haven’t tried them. I can tell you the ones at Amazon suck, I got them last year, wore them today because my others are dirty and they bagged and sagged in less than an hour.

  10. I have a unisex concert tee that I love but rarely wear because of the fit. Do you do anything special to keep yours from fraying or unraveling when you alter it?

    1. Nope, the knit doesn’t unravel, I’m still wearing tees I DIYed like this a decade ago. The only one that’s dangerous to cut is the hem of the shirt because that will curl and curl and curl until you have a belly shirt. I’ll be doing a tutorial in the near future!

  11. I have a band tee that I love, but would it is a unisex so has that slightly odd fit to it. What exactly do you to yours to get the cute distressed look without it falling apart?

    1. I’ve been asked before how I do this and will be doing a tutorial in the near future. My sister bought me the Smiths tee I had back in high school that I lost in college and it’s begging to be DIYed! Hope to have within a month!

      1. Oh, I can’t wait to read that post! I’ve got Clash, Bruce Springsteen and Queen t-shirts that I’d love to wear again but with the boxy arms, boxy body and crew neck that could rival a turtleneck (OK, slight exaggeration) they are the most unflattering shirts I’ve got but I just love them. Frankly, I don’t know how I wore them all those years ago. So I’ll be looking forward to your tutorial!

  12. I’m commenting to say that I love being able to see prices while hovering over the items! I’m not sure when you rolled this out, but it’s such a handy feature to see whether or not I should fall in love with something out of my price range 🙂

    1. I’m glad you like it! It’s a new tool and you can choose to have the brands (but they show the store so if it’s Nordstrom or Macy’s it only says that which is sort of pointless IMO) and the price show if you want and then choose whether to have it always visible or only on hover. I started using a new affiliate/product linking company this fall and this is one of their spiffy free tools!

  13. Great closet for the weekend or in my case, the newly retired! I love the graphic wrap, and permission to still wear band tees at age 59? : >

    1. Patti,

      Some of the greats from the past are still performing and they’re older than us! If they can still do that we sure can wear their t-shirts.


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