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As I look through my closet for this season and as it gets colder, I am assessing what I already own, and what I think will work with my existing closet, and I can't help but think about capsules. What will be my fall to winter capsule wardrobe? What will mix and match, making it easy to get dressed in a rush, pack for travel, and have the right thing for the right occasion?
This thought process has me making capsule wardrobes as I peruse online boutiques, and admiring some items (and mixing in some things I already own) I ended up making this capsule wardrobe. I am really liking gray and camel as base colors this season, as they work so well with everything from soft pastels to rich jewel tones.
Fall to Winter Capsule Wardrobe: What's In It?
I kept this capsule wardrobe relatively neutral so your existing closet and your favorite colors can be incorporated. Imagine adding teal, or blush pink, or plum, or hot pink to this collection. My capsule wardrobes are to get your mind thinking in a different way, imagining new combinations to extend your closet and achieve more style with fewer items.
Also, note how classic these items are. These aren't pieces that will be out of style next year. This is a capsule wardrobe of what I think could be staples. Pieces that can transition from fall and winter to spring and even early summer. Pieces that years from now you may still be rocking with joy. Yet, combined the effect feels contemporary and cool. Don't think you need new styles to get a new effect, sometimes it's just switching up the combinations.
UPDATE: I couldn't tell from the Boden website, but a Wardrobe Oxygen community member ordered the cardigan dress listed below and it does not open completely to wear as a duster. The bottom portion opens so it could be worn over pants, but not in the way I featured below. So here is a carousel of similar cardigan dresses that open:
Shop the Capsule Wardrobe:
cream fisherman sweater (cotton blend; XXS-3X) | red and cream striped Breton top (XS-4XL) | gray ribbed merino turtleneck (XXS-XXL + petite) | cream off-the-shoulder sweater (viscose blend; XXS-XXL + petite)
faded jeans (00-30 + tall & petite) | cream cords (23-37 + petite & tall) | black faux leather jeans (24-35 + petite & tall)
gray wool double-breasted blazer (00-24 + petite & tall) | camel cardigan dress (viscose blend; 2-20/22) | gray satin pleated skirt (XS-XXL)
gold twisted hoops | silk scarf | gold link necklace | black clutch | red crossbody | black leather booties | white leather sneakers | black knee-high boots
25 Possible Looks from this Fall to Winter Capsule Wardrobe
I made 25 different outfits from this fall to winter capsule wardrobe to get you thinking about how to mix and match. I added a few simple pieces that may already be in your closet (denim jacket, graphic t-shirt, slip or tank dress). To see any of these looks larger, simply click on any of the images. There will be arrows on the left and right of the images to scroll through. To return to this page, click the “X” at the top of the screen.
Shop the Additional Items Featured in the Individual Outfits:
reading/optical glasses | Flyte.70 high-shine lipstick | NARS matte lipcolor | denim jacket (XXS-XXL) | tortoise sunglasses | crystal knot earrings | The Cure t-shirt (S-5XL) | green bomber jacket (00-40) | wide leather belt (XS-XXL) | dark green washable silk slipdress (XS-XXL)
The Why Behind the Pieces in this Capsule Wardrobe
Why did I choose the things I did in this fall to winter capsule wardrobe? A little of my mindset when pulling these pieces. I hope sharing the why helps you get into a capsule mindset, seeing how to extend your existing closet!
- Modern Elegance is Mixing High with Low: If you are looking for polish in your wardrobe, always have one piece that doesn't traditionally fit. If you're dressing up, consider switching out classic pumps for boots, a leather jacket for denim, a glossy red lip for a matte stain, a French twist for a simple ponytail. When dressing down, consider one piece to elevate the look. Good hoops are an easy addition, as is a red lip. Pair a skirt with sneakers, a blazer with a well-worn graphic t-shirt, satin with denim. This wardrobe has a lot of luxe pieces and casual pieces and I find the mix is more versatile than all one vibe.
- The Cardigan Sweater Dress: I saw this dress at Boden (and similar at many other retailers) and instantly saw versatility. Wear it buttoned up like a dress, belted with boots. Wear it over a turtleneck for extra warmth. Wear it open like a duster jacket. Button just one or two and switch out the self-belt for a leather one and style over a silk slipdress or leggings and a turtleneck. This is a popular trend of dress this fall to winter, don't think it has to only be a dress.
- Trousers with Texture: When it's getting cold, a lot of times you're wearing more practical of shoes and less stylized tops. By choosing cold-weather fabrics for pants, you still get interest and style while staying warm. Cords are back and you'll find corduroy jeans, wide-leg trousers, pleated pants, and everything in-between. I liked that these weren't skinny but slim enough to tuck into tall boots. Faux and real leather is also back and a trouser or jeans in this fabric can elevate all your fleeces and sweaters. I went with a jean style which looks great dressed up or down.
- The Off-the-Shoulder Sweater: I know a lot of folks are anti-anything you can't wear with a standard bra and I respect that, but for those who are open to a strapless bra (or letting a simple strap show) hear me out. An off-the-shoulder sweater (OTS) feels dressy, sexy, and cool while keeping the majority of you warm. Jeans with a v-neck is nice, jeans with an OTS is niiiiice. And when it's a sweater, you don't need that strapless bra to offer up to the neck perfect shaping and support, so you can go more comfortable. My picks of strapless bras: The Wacoal Red Carpet for mid- to large-busts, the Soma Enbliss for small to medium busts, and the Rhonda Shear bandeau is supportive and available in plus sizes.
- The Gray Blazer: I own this blazer in green, you can see it in this post. I love this blazer because it's a bit oversized (very on trend this season), but fits in the shoulders. It fits me over a lightweight sweater or a t-shirt, and fits under winter coats. It's long enough that I don't feel naked in leggings, but tailored enough to look nice with non-skinny pants and jeans.
- The Pleated Midi Skirt: This can dress up or down so easy. Half-tuck a sweater in the front, style with a camisole or turtleneck for evening, tie a graphic t-shirt with it, wear with the blazer and sneakers for some downtown cool. If this trend is new for you, buy budget. You may be surprised how much you like a skirt like this and end up adding more to your closet, as they're great all year round.
- The Fisherman Sweater: This is a classic, but the version I linked to is lighter in weight, meaning it can layer without you overheating and can even French tuck into the pants or skirt and drape nicely.
- The Breton Stripe Top: Why stick to black or navy stripes? This summer I bought this same top with blue stripes and I love the idea of this ivory and dark red which is still classic but not so cliche. The ivory will age better than white while being quite versatile.
- The Ribbed Merino Turtleneck: I find sweaters like this look good even if I am feeling fluffy, even though I have full arms and a large bust, and it's not so thick I feel claustrophobic. I wear these alone, under jackets and even under other sweaters. The ribs add interest and this charcoal color can look quite elegant for dressier occasions.
- The Burgundy Crossbody: I love a pop of color with a purse, and this bag is a nice size for everyday and a simple enough style that it will remain stylish for years.
- The Black Dumpling Clutch: I think the quickest way to modernize a look for evening or special occasions is by switching out your “classic” clutch for an on-trend one. This bag from Etsy mimics the hottest bag trend right now in a faux leather. Even better, the dumpling bag can hold a LOT of stuff. I rented one recently from Rent the Runway and I was able to hold so much, I could even fit my playbill from the musical I saw and it didn't bend or crease!
When it comes to capsule wardrobes, you want everything to be styled at least three different ways to create three different kinds of looks. For example, with the looks above I could have made more if I recreated the same exact look I showed with jeans with cords and with the leather jeans. But that doesn't really show versatility. Go beyond that, and if the item is one-note, it may not be the best choice for your capsule wardrobe.
There were a lot of possibilities I considered for this capsule wardrobe until I completed it. I considered a slipdress (which is in one look above). I visited M.M. LaFleur in DC this week and they styled me in a long duster cardigan over that slip dress and while it wasn't my personal style aesthetic it was really chic and comfortable and versatile. It's something I wouldn't have otherwise considered, but after playing with outfits I didn't think it was versatile enough to be in the actual capsule.
I had a different cream sweater, but I couldn't envision it half-tucked into the skirt. I switched the color of the Breton stripe tee so many times but kept going back to red/ivory and loved having red be the pop of color with that crossbody bag (which comes in 8 colors, is Italian leather but still under $100). I didn't have the faux leather jeans at first but felt the capsule needed a bit of edge. They could easily be replaced with velvet, or a wide-leg trouser.
Point is, when building a capsule it takes some time, some playing, and some breaking out of the box and switching up the standard. I've been making capsule wardrobes for almost two decades, very likely you have not. So don't expect to perfect one the first try (or fifth). Take your time and have fun!
I got the cardigan sweater dress in charcoal (because camel has me looking ill, especially in January and February), and I like it as a dress much more than I thought I would. It’s very soft and well cut; however, it doesn’t unbutton all the way to wear as a duster. That’s probably a plus when wearing as a dress, and it layers with ease, but wanted to let you know. The bottom five buttons work, so you can easily get a partly buttoned look. I went back to Borden’s website, and it’s definitely not clear from the description on their site either. Love your ideas and inspiration here! Not at all upset, just adding more info.
Alison Gary says
Thank you so much for letting me know, oh gosh I feel awful! I went online to find some similar dresses that open completely and added them above. I really appreciate you letting me know and I am glad to hear that the dress is good otherwise!
I just came here to say the same! I just received the camel one and I love the fabric (not itchy!) and they style, but was so disappointed about those buttons. So back it will go. I was really sold on the versatility and will check out other options.
I love all your suggestions. I especially enjoy it when I can say “Ok, I have that, that and that, and hey, maybe that teal blazer I have will work instead of the gray shown here!” Your capsules spark my creativity; it’s so easy to fall into wearing the same things the same ways. Thank you again for your thorough work and another great capsule wardrobe!
I ordered a Madewell duster duster from Nordstrom because it was a little less expensive than the Boden piece (plus I had a credit) and when I looked at the Boden piece on the website, I wasn’t fond of the sleeves—looked like they’d be hard to push up. I really like the Madewell piece and although it did not come with a belt, I believe it could be also be worn as a dress. I hope Boden sees this as realizes its pictures were somewhat misleading!
I’m in the process of switching out my summer and fall/winter wardrobes, and I’ll keep these suggestions in mind as I go through my storage boxes. One thing I wanted to note–I bought one of the Mango skirts you recommended in a spring capsule. I loved how it fit and looked, but it snagged on everything. Perhaps the pleated skirt will be less likely to do that, but I am going to pass on their skirts from now on.
Thanks for this capsule! My size has changed and I’m trying to only buy new items that work together for a small & cohesive fall/winter wardrobe so this is very helpful. That Boden cardigan dress is calling my name and they are having a 25% off $150 or more sale! I want so badly to be able to pull off the sweater-dress-as-a-duster look, maybe this is the push I need. 🙂
Cameron Barry says
Another fantastic capsule wardrobe! Thanks, Allie.