I made my first capsule wardrobe about 7 years ago. I’d limit my wardrobe to 30 pieces each season and make a spreadsheet to think through how all the pieces mixed and matched with each other. Each piece would pair with at least 3 other pieces. I wanted to find freedom in the simplicity of living with a more minimal wardrobe. And to easily know what to put on in the morning before work.
If you’re constantly stumped about what to wear and feel like you have nothing in your closet, a capsule wardrobe fixes that.
When building a capsule wardrobe, most people think about selecting versatile pieces in neutral colors that are easy to mix and match. And while that’s important, you also have to choose pieces you love so much that you’re happy to wear them day in and day out.
One day I realized that I liked making a capsule collection as a way to play with my wardrobe and obsess over clothes because I love them so much. I eventually let go of limiting the number of pieces in my capsule, but what remained was an appreciation for finding hard-working pieces that work well with several other pieces in my closet. With the goal of making at least 3 different outfits with each item, shopping becomes more intentional.
In this post, I have the ultimate fall capsule wardrobe to inspire you as you create your own capsule. This trendy and classic capsule mixes 27 classic pieces like a trench coat, button-down shirts, a classic blazer, and cardigan sweaters. With more modern shapes of jeans and pants to take you through the transitional weather of fall and into colder weather. Where I can, I link to a variety of alternate pieces within each category so you can choose an item at a different price point or with more sizing options.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
What do you need for a fall capsule wardrobe?
You’ll want statement pieces and staple pieces in your fall capsule wardrobe. Statement pieces are visually interesting and make an outfit come alive. Pieces like a houndstooth blazer, a striped cardigan, a trench coat, a striped button down, or coated jeans are perfect for fall. Staple pieces are the building blocks that bring it all together. Think jeans and trousers, and layering pieces like short and long sleeve shirts. You’ll also select accessories like shoes, a belt, and a bag.
This post is packed full of 52 outfit photos to begin to show you how to style these pieces together. I photographed over 70 outfits but had to cut some out to keep this post from being completely overwhelming.
Let’s look at the items in this capsule collection!
Fit note: I’m 5’6″, 160 lbs., and wear size 12 jeans with a 36-B bust. My leg inseam is 28.5″ to the ankle.
FALL CAPSULE ITEMS
Let’s take a deeper dive into each of these pieces and look at outfit ideas!
Striped cardigan sweater
This Chanel-inspired cardigan sweater combines stunning stripes with a rounded neck and gold buttons for a sharp look that makes any outfit. It’s cut to hit at the top of the hip and works perfectly buttoned up like a top or layered over a black or white t-shirt, button-down shirt, or tie-neck blouse. Wear it with a ton of different styles of bottoms from blue or black jeans, to a pair of trousers, to leather pants, or a denim skirt.
SHOP STRIPED CARDIGANS
Fall fashion is the perfect time for plaid! This blazer was sold out before I finished this post. And there’s a good reason! It’s so good-looking, with a gorgeous navy and white striped lining on the inside. J.Crew Factory items often come back in stock and it’s now back in the stores and available to buy. Updated 8/23/23.
A houndstooth blazer is one of those timeless pieces that’s a great addition to your wardrobe since you can wear it year after year. If you prefer a more trendy look, pick an oversized blazer. There are so many color tones in a houndstooth blazer, you can wear it over top of many colors. I’ve paired it over top of a white tee, a sweater vest, a tie-neck blouse, and even a striped button-down shirt that matches the lining of this blazer.
SHOP PLAID BLAZERS
Striped button-down shirt
This is my favorite shirt of all time. The navy and white stripe is a great way to make an outfit pop. I wear it every single season with everything from shorts to skirts, jeans, and pants. Wear it open layered over a white tee like I’m doing here. Or wear it buttoned and tucked in or layered under a blazer or sweater.
SHOP STRIPED BUTTON DOWNS
A tie-neck blouse is super versatile because you can wear the neck in several different ways. Obviously, you can tie it into a bow. But you can also wrap the ties around your neck and tie it behind your neck. Or leave it untied so it looks like a v-neck blouse layered under a v-neck sweater or vest.
SHOP TIE-NECK BLOUSES
Puff sleeve sweater
As the weather starts to cool, a short sleeve sweater is a perfect piece for jumping into fall. It’s super soft and so good-looking with everything from jeans and pants to skirts. I like a puff sleeve sweater because it helps to balance out my slim upper body and large bottom half. But choose a more streamlined sleeve if that works better. The puff sleeve is modest enough that the sleeves easily fit under a blazer or jacket. Update: This sweater is currently sold out. I’ve linked other options below.
SHOP CREAM SWEATERS
Black sweater vest
Sweater vests are having a moment. And this round neck chunky knit Dolman short sleeve vest has some weight to it so you can pair it over top of a long sleeve shirt or under a blazer on colder days or wear it alone like a shirt on a warmer day. It works with just about any style of pants from edgy leather pants to trousers and jeans.
SHOP BLACK SWEATER VESTS
This pumpkin-colored v-neck vest brings a pop of color to any look. Wear it alone like a tank top or layer it over a button-down shirt, or long or short sleeve tee. In this third look, I layered it over a black tie-neck blouse and left the tie untied to create a different look with the blouse.
SHOP THE SWEATER VEST
Cardigan sweaters are a fall layering essential. Choose a chunky knit or I love a cable knit for the visual interest that it adds to any outfit. Wear it alone, buttoned up like a shirt, or layered over a button-down shirt or a tee with short or long sleeves. I bought this H&M sweater in the store, only to find out it’s sold out online. I’m showing a few alternatives below.
SHOP GREY CARDIGANS
A trench coat
A great coat is essential for fall. And I like to have a long coat like a trench coat to wear over fall outfits. A trench coat is elevated and instantly creates a good-looking outfit. This trench coat from J.Crew Factory is my top choice. It comes in several colors but I love how the black creates a chic look. Wear it over top of everything from sweaters, leather pants, and even a blazer outfit. I love to throw a trench coat over sweatpants and a sweatshirt to elevate them. If your climate gets very cold during the fall, then you may want a coat with a heavier weight.
SHOP TRENCH COATS
A lightweight jacket is one of those key pieces for fall. You can of course choose a denim jacket or leather jacket, but I love a utility jacket for the fall season. It’s a little bit preppy and works great with jeans for a casual look. It’s the perfect daytime coat that you’ll grab to wear everywhere from the pumpkin patch to sporting events. It works with sneakers, loafers, and ankle boots.
SHOP THE BLACK JACKET
Coated wide-leg jeans
Leather pants are having a moment. Coated jeans are a great alternative. This pair is lightweight, super breathable and so comfortable to wear. I love the wide leg shape that easily fits my size 12 rear. You can dress them up for a night out or wear them with a blazer for an edgy twist.
SHOP COATED AND LEATHER PANTS
Wide-leg jeans are my top pick for a pair of fall jeans. With a long full leg, they give you super long legs. This pair from Loft is soft and comfortable to wear. They have a cool and laid-back vibe. Pair them with loafers, sneakers, espadrilles, strappy sandals, and ankle boots.
SHOP WIDE LEG JEANS
Blue kick crop jeans
If you haven’t discovered kick crop jeans, they’re another style to love and a great alternative to skinny jeans. They are ankle-length jeans that have a slight flare at the hem that balances out wider hips for a flattering look.
These Gap jeans are my absolute favorite and they come in regular, tall, and petite, with your choice of 3 different inseam lengths. In this pair, I’m wearing the regular long length so they hit my ankle. I also own them in the shorter regular length and wear them with ankle wrap sandals. The hem is finished so you can even wear them to work. Wear them with any style of shoe including ankle boots, sneakers, espadrilles or ankle wrap sandals, loafers, and ballet flats.
SHOP KICK CROP JEANS
Black kick crop jeans
This is another pair of kick crop jeans from the Gap but in black with a raw hem for an edgy look. I love Gap’s high-rise kick-crop jeans so much that I own them in blue, black, and white. They’re that good for my size 12 rear.
SHOP BLACK KICK CROP JEANS
Black trouser pants
Wide-leg trousers are a trending classic that creates an eye-catching silhouette. I love the clean look of a pair of flat-front trousers like I’m wearing here. But flat-front trousers are quickly being replaced by pleated-front trousers for a more tailored look. Choose the style of black pants that are most flattering for you. Wear them with loafers, ballet flats, strappy sandals, ankle boots, and sneakers.
SHOP WIDE-LEG TROUSERS
I like to include a dress or skirt in every capsule wardrobe to add some variety. You could choose a sweater dress. But I choose a denim skirt because it mixes and matches with so many items. Denim skirts are appearing in midi and long maxi lengths this fall. I prefer the more wearable length of a midi skirt that hits a flattering spot below the knee. Wear one with loafers, ballet flats, strappy sandals, ankle boots, or sneakers.
SHOP DENIM SKIRTS
For more ideas about how to style a denim skirt read, 20 Best Outfit Ideas for How to Wear a Denim Skirt.
White long sleeve crewneck tee
A white t-shirt with long sleeves is a wardrobe staple in the fall. I love this one from the Gap called the Modern T because the material is substantial for a flattering and comfortable shape. Wear it alone or layered with a blazer, cardigan, or jacket.
SHOP WHITE LONG SLEEVE CREWNECK SHIRTS
Black long sleeve crewneck tee
This is a simple Everywear tee from Old Navy. The material is a nice weight. I also own it in white with black stripes.
SHOP BLACK LONG SLEEVE CREWNECK T-SHIRTS
White short sleeve crewneck tee
Basic tees are essentials in the fall. Layer them under heavier sweaters or wear them alone. This is a J.Crew Factory girlfriend tee. The fabric is mid-weight and it has a slightly heathered appearance to it. I’ve included it in black too.
SHOP WHITE CREWNECK SHORT SLEEVE TEES
Black short sleeve crewneck tee
This is also the J.Crew Factory Girlfriend tee. It’s great for layering or to wear alone.
SHOP BLACK CREWNECK SHORT SLEEVE SHIRTS
A chambray shirt is another piece that’s super versatile. Buy an oversized fit and wear it unbuttoned and over the top of a t-shirt. Or buy a slimmer fit and wear it buttoned up and tucked in. Or layered under a sweater or blazer for a classic look.
SHOP CHAMBRAY SHIRTS
Shoes, belts, and bags make a look come alive and feel grounded and cohesive.
Here are the shoes in this capsule.
These black espadrilles from Boden blow me away for their comfort and how good-looking and versatile they are. The black suede, brownish-tan woven wedge, and black ribbons make them stunning and they’re a shoe you can dress up or dress down. They have a bit of height in case you want that with your long pants and jeans. I love how they add a feminine touch in outfits that lean towards masculine.
Black loafers are sticking around. Choose a pair with a more modest heel or a platform heel. I love my black patent leather loafers for a touch of shine that draws the eye to the end of the foot. But you can also choose a matte finish. These will be the go-to shoes this year with trousers pants and jeans.
Chelsea boots have been a classic that’s trending for a few years now. It’s easy to see why they’re popular with their flat lug sole that’s super comfortable. They’re easy to pair with ankle-length or cropped jeans and wide-leg long styles. I chose a super classic burgundy-brown color. A black pair gives an edgier vibe.
See how to style Chelsea boots in my post, 20 Outfits for How to Wear Chelsea Boots with Style.
SHOP CHELSEA BOOTS
New Balance sneakers
Retro sneakers are having a moment. These New Balance sneakers are a comfortable classic that pairs so well with the black tones of this capsule. Wear them any way that you would wear white sneakers. Try them with jeans, your denim skirt, and even with your black trousers.
SHOP NEW BALANCE SNEAKERS
I’ve included one belt in this capsule. It pairs perfectly with everything.
This Boden belt is a stunner, with its chunky gold statement buckle. It blends perfectly with the gold buttons on the black striped sweater and houndstooth blazer. And also the gold accents on the bag. It elevates the simplest jeans and t-shirt outfit and I always get compliments on it.
Here’s the bag that can be dressed up or down.
This Coach bag elevates any look, with the structure of its right angles and the top handles. You can dress it down and make it more casual by wearing it as a crossbody bag. The burgundy lining pairs perfectly with the burgundy brown of the Chelsea boots.
I’ve linked several similar bags at a variety of price points below.
Other fall content you may like: