It's no longer summer, but not quite fall. We’re packing up swimsuits, but not quite ready to unpack our chunky sweaters. The opposite of March, September is a month of transitions, coming in like a sauna (especially this year!) and out like an autumn breeze. It's the month of flannel shirts, football, and the long-anticipated Fall issue of Vogue.
As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, it’s time to start thinking about what you will wear for fall. A capsule wardrobe is a great way to streamline your looks, keep your wardrobe chic, and make it easier to get dressed every day.
We’ve all done it; gazing into an overstuffed closet thinking we have nothing to wear. We buy and buy pieces we think we have to have. Then we hang them into the abyss we call a closet, and forget what we have. Seasons pass and those must-have items have done nothing but take up space. Why, if we have so many clothes do we have nothing to wear?
One great way to create an easy-to-manage closet that mixes and matches seamlessly, and looks so good you won’t want to close the door, is to develop a seasonal capsule wardrobe.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of essential clothing pieces that can be mixed and matched to create multiple looks.
A scaled-down, limited collection of clothes for a particular time frame, a fall capsule wardrobe typically consists of transitional pieces that will take you from late summer, through the fall, and straight up to the holidays. The good news is some pieces in a well-strategized autumn capsule wardrobe may even transition over to winter.
Why capsule wardrobes work now more than ever
In an era when fashion has taken a turn in a new direction, boldly going where it’s never gone before, we could be at the precipice of a fashion revolution when the words “so last season” are tossed in the recycle bin.
As the “nothing-new,” zero-waste movement takes the best from the past and reinvents it to live again in the future, fashion’s ability to mirror society as a whole is taking lessons from the last two years to focus on the here and now, stay close to the people we love, and that it’s okay to be comfortable.
Using the less-is-more mentality, and zoning in on the pieces that we love to wear, having fewer clothes not only makes sense for the planet, it makes getting dressed easier. And because you have a smaller pool of choices, a capsule wardrobe allows you to be involved in your own style ethos, creating new looks by rearranging the same elements and being pleasantly surprised about the many combinations you can come up with. A capsule wardrobe is more than just a pared-down version of your regular wardrobe. It is a strategic grouping of items that work well to create a variety of looks.
Because capsule wardrobes ensure that the key pieces in your wardrobe are more versatile and go with several different other items, they are also a great way to save money. If you realize that you only need one black tee, one great pair of work boots, and a single perfect blazer, you can stop incessantly shopping and focus your attention on things that matter to you the most.
Another benefit of capsule wardrobes is that they help keep you on track with your style goals for the season because you can create a more refined strategy behind your fall aesthetic. Having a capsule wardrobe does not mean you have to become a serial outfit repeater or a minimalist. In fact, capsule wardrobes, though smaller in scale will create a larger pool of outfit options than a closet full of mish-mashed clothes.
How to build a fall capsule wardrobe
To get you started on building your own fall capsule wardrobe, we’ve put together some essential tips for a 20-25 piece capsule wardrobe for the fall season.
1 - Start with closet basics. These are simple, streamlined pieces with minimal design elements that can be easily mixed and matched with other basics and statement pieces. A good pair of jeans, a white tee, a cardigan, and a blazer are examples of great staple must-haves in a fall capsule wardrobe. Basically, (no pun) a capsule wardrobe will be mostly basics with a few non-basic statement pieces mixed in.
2 - Add 2- 4 trendy fall items in a 20-25 piece capsule. If you just can’t resist a trend or two, it’s okay to add a few, but understand that the trendier the statement pieces, the less likely they will carry over to the next season.
3 - Be wary of your budgeting around trendy items. Make sure you are focusing your spending on quality staples, (think great wool blazer, well-fitting jeans, and a great pair of boots) and not blowing your budget on one really trendy scarf or a pair of sneakers.
4 - Include a few versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down, (think a pair of well-fitting lightweight wool trousers, a neutral sweater, and a perfect, wear-with-anything blazer.
5 - Make sure you have the right outerwear for the changing fall weather in your location. If you live in a warmer climate, resist the urge to spend your cash on a coat you rarely wear. Go with a lighter jacket worn over layers. In most areas of the country, a lightweight denim jacket will suffice in September and early October, but by Halloween, you’ll probably start needing a heavier jacket or coat. For colder areas, be sure to add a great parka or bomber jacket to your capsule wardrobe.
6 - The fun part; add shoes and accessories like a great pair of boots or booties, a pair of comfortable flats, a scarf, a belt, and 1 or 2 pieces of jewelry that can pull a few outfits together.
How to choose what to put into your fall capsule wardrobe
When choosing your capsule wardrobe ingredients, it's important to embrace your personal style and not follow styles that do not reflect your lifestyle. It’s easy to become fashionably frustrated when you create a wardrobe that is more “wishable” and not enough practical.
For example, if you have to commute on the subway or chase a toddler all day, having a closet full of 5-inch spike heels is going to create a disconnect. If you work in a corporate job, a bunch of funky sneakers will likely sit in your closet all season.
We’ve put together this 2022 fall capsule wardrobe sample to help inspire you and give you a basic outline. Just use it as a guide and tweak the list to fit your budget, style goals, and lifestyle.
Here are some general categories:
2 outerwear pieces that will take you through the fall in your climate
Layering pieces: sweaters, cardigans, and jackets that can be worn on their own or layered over or under another piece to help you with transitional weather
1 neutral go-to chic and functional staple bag that not only makes any outfit look elevated but most importantly, is able to hold all your daily necessities. Having one great wear-anywhere bag helps to avoid bag switch frustration. (Who doesn’t hate that?)
Neutral items: Neutral items can differ depending on your style goals and wardrobe color palette. Just be sure to have some base color pieces (white, black, or whatever that means to you) so that you can mix and match easily
Weather-friendly shoes: Make sure you have a few options for fall weather, whether that’s rain boots and a nice leather boot, or just a great pair of sneakers.
You might love your new pair of loafers and ballet flats, but make sure you have something for pumpkin picking and the slushy days.
Proper supporting garments: Depending on how your full wardrobe progresses, you may find that tights, heavy socks, a knit hat, or gloves are necessities. Do you walk to work? Support your wardrobe with a few more layer pieces. Just be sure you’ve properly supported your wardrobe to mesh with your climate and lifestyle!
Ideally, capsule wardrobes change 4 times a year. They’re filled mainly with basic pieces you already own, sprinkled with pieces that round out your seasonal capsule. Good basics can go from season to season, capsule to capsule (think white button-down shirt, navy blazer, and your favorite black tee.) These pieces become wardrobe staples that make every season’s wardrobe planning easier.
Incorporating trends into a capsule wardrobe
Adding 2 or 3 trendy pieces doesn’t always mean new pieces. In fact, a lot of trends center around styling shifts or layering techniques.
The majority of the components on this sample fall capsule wardrobe list are things you can already find in your own closet, and if you purchase new, they’ll be able to wear for seasons and years to come.
Creating a capsule wardrobe is about honing in on foundational pieces and combinations that you know work. It’s not about suppressing YOUR own personal style or fitting yourself into a magazine cover uniform.
With fall 2022 approaching fast, use this capsule wardrobe checklist to help you decide which items in your closet are keepers and which should go.