Everything You Need for the Ultimate Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Fall is on deck, y'all

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fall capsule wardrobe
Dasha Burobina for PureWow

There are lots of benefits to a fall capsule wardrobe—more closet space, less time spent crafting outfits in the morning and a higher percentage of your shopping budget to put toward each piece, to name a few. But even if you consider yourself more of a maximalist, building a core base of separates that can easily mix and match with one another can make it easier in the long run to start incorporating bolder patterns, brighter colors or otherwise trendier items. So, to start us all off on the chicest foot possible this season, we’ve put together a list of the 11 items you need in order to build the ultimate fall capsule wardrobe.

But First, What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a pared-down list of clothing, shoes and accessories that can be easily mixed and matched with one another to create simple, chic ensembles with less effort. Most have a neutral color palette featuring shades of beige, white, black, navy and gray, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to just those hues. If you’d rather mix and match warm tones like yellows, oranges and reds, we say go for it. So long as there are no outstanding pieces that require an additional accessory or clothing items that can’t be worn with everything else, you’ve got yourself a capsule wardrobe.

How Do I Choose What to Include in My Fall Capsule Wardrobe?

Think about the pieces you wear most often and that work best for the greatest number of scenarios. For instance, jeans can work for pretty much any daily occasion, from working in an office to dinner dates to weekend errand running. Then again, maybe you’re more of a skirt person. Pick out the items from your closet that you already wear on the regular, then start to ID where there might be any gaps. Do you often wish you had a different pair of sneakers to mix in with your wardrobe? Or maybe a different fall jacket? Combine that with your day-to-day needs and voilà!

How to Create a Fall Capsule Wardrobe

  1. Start with bottoms. You only need three or so, and here it’s a bit more important to stick with neutral tones and clean washes so you can better mix with and show off your collection of tops.
  2. Next, tops. Be sure to consider how they will layer with one another (i.e., how sweaters will look over T-shirts or blouses, and how jackets will layer over knits). This group will likely be the largest section of your capsule wardrobe, giving you the most options to switch things up from day to day.
  3. On to shoes. It’s best to choose practical footwear like flats or ankle boots over stilettos, but you do you, reader. Neutral shades and leather or suede options are going to be most ideal when it comes to versatility in your fall wardrobe.
  4. Outerwear is on deck. From blazers to trench coats, your outerwear should be practical and weather friendly as temps drop. Avoid anything too formfitting, which could be tough to wear over thicker items like sweaters.
  5. Let’s chat bags. A medium to large size black bag should get you tons of use. A handbag with a removable crossbody strap will be versatile regardless of what your plans are for the day.
  6. Now, dresses. The great thing about dresses is that they’re pretty much standalone pieces anyway, so feel free to add in handful, making sure they’ll pair well with your shoes and jackets.
  7. Finally, accessories. In our opinion, a scarf is one of the most important parts of a fall capsule wardrobe. Not only does it add a sleek layer to your look, it keeps you warm, too—especially if it's cashmere.
fall capsule wardrobe oversize blazer
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

1. An Oversize Blazer

Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

A great blazer can pull double duty as workwear or a chic jacket off the clock. The best versions have a slightly oversize fit (better for layering), but it’s entirely up to you whether you prefer a solid camel brown or a classic autumnal plaid. A blazer works beautifully atop a sweater, simple short sleeve tee or bodysuit or a dress, making it versatile and sleek pick for everyday wear.

fall capsule wardrobe jeans
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

2. Straight-Leg Jeans

Jeans trends come and go, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy a new pair every time J.Lo is spotted in a style that matches the season’s current trend. To avoid this, we suggest a simple solution: Stick to a timeless silhouette like straight-leg jeans that will look chic whether the current go-to style is low-rise and baggy or high-rise and ultra-skinny. Straight-leg jeans are classic and clean looking. (We’d suggest a middle-of-the-road wash that isn’t too dark or too light.)

fall capsule wardrobe
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

3. Basic Tees

Basic tees are key to a capsule wardrobe, no matter the season. But when it comes to colder months, they’re a staple for layering. Worn under jackets, wraps, sweaters or cardigans, a simple fitted T-shirt or tank top is a must-have. Grab this in a bodysuit style, long-sleeve silhouette, cropped or uncropped—whatever is most comfortable and most suited to your style and wardrobe. Go for a nice material that is thick (or even double-layered) to ensure it will last and not look see-through or ratty after a wash or two.

fall capsule wardrobe
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

4. A Black Handbag

For days when you need to fit more than just the basics, a large, sleek handbag is the way to go. Natural materials like real leather, suede, cotton or wool will wear better over time than synthetics (and have the added benefit of usually being more eco-friendly), meaning you can splurge a bit and know you won’t have to pony up again any time soon.

fall capsule wardrobe
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

5. A Trench Coat

Whether you get one that is a little heavier to get you through fall and winter, or a lightweight style best suited for autumn, a trench coat is an essential that won’t go out of style. Opt for a wool or water-resistant topper stay protected from unpredictable weather. The classic look of these coats will be in style basically forever, so this would be a great time to invest in one you love that will last for years to come.

fall capsule wardrobe white sneakers
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

6. White Sneakers

When it comes to easy, everyday footwear, there are plenty of cute styles to choose from—ballet flats, loafers, Mary Janes—but one style that will always be en vogue is the classic white lace-up sneaker. The best pairs to invest in are easy to clean, either in the washing machine or with a leather wipe, so they remain as crisp as the day you bought them. White sneakers can be paired with dressed-up or dressed-down looks, making them one of the most versatile pieces you’ll have in your closet.

fall capsule wardrobe midi dresses
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

7. A Midi Sweater Dress

Easily layerable, a midi dress that accentuates your shape is a must-have for your fall wardrobe. A simple pattern that’s a sweater material or a simple cotton will be a great option to wear under blazers, jackets, sweaters and with shoes that run the gamut from short boots to sneakers.

fall capsule wardrobe black leggings
Getty Images/Daniel Zuchnik

8. Black Leggings

An easy weekend option, black leggings are much easier to tuck into tall boots than jeans or trousers and are infinitely comfier if you’re traveling or running all over town. And while a matte black style is most versatile, faux-leather leggings can also be super chic and go with pretty much everything. Do note, though, that leggings are something you’ll want to invest in, because a poor quality pair can deteriorate very quickly, especially if you wear them frequently.

fall capsule wardrobe
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

9. Black Ankle Boots

Ah, the low black boot. This casual shoe will never go out of style and, as an added bonus, it ranges in design so you aren’t beholden to one specific type of bootie. Try to look for a weather-resistant pair, like these Miller boots, so you don’t have to worry about wearing them out in rain, sleet or even snow, and perhaps a dressier pair with a heel for fancier looks.

fall capsule wardrobe
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

10. A Cashmere Scarf

There’s no accessory better than a soft, cozy scarf to complete a warm fall outfit. The luxe look of this cool-weather staple is as functional as it is chic. We like the idea of getting an oversize number that can be used as a scarf or a big wrap.

fall capsule wardrobe
Getty Images/Edward Berthelot

11. Loafers

Loafers are a great in-between option between boots and sneakers for a sleek fall shoe that pairs well with tons of outfits. Just be aware that some folks find that loafers can be uncomfortable on the heels, so look specifically for a pair from a brand that’s known for its comfort level.

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Olivia Dubyak

Commerce Editor

Olivia Dubyak is PureWow's Commerce Editor and textbook Capricorn. She studied journalism at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has gone from New York City to...
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Abby Hepworth


Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...
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Why You Should Trust Us

PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.