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There’s a tendency to hunker down and “give up” on fashion in the winter. With bitter temps and endless snowed-in days, who has the energy or enthusiasm to even care? As we try to just make it to the first signs of spring, we’re thinking about practicality and function. But what if there were a way to have both function and fashion? No, I’m not Santa Claus, but I’m about to give you a gift! And it’s three words: winter capsule wardrobe. Here’s what a winter capsule wardrobe is, what to put in it, and endless outfit ideas to get you started!
What is a winter capsule wardrobe & why should you have one?
Based on essential items and key pieces that all mix and match with each other, a winter capsule wardrobe is a great way to relieve the burden of not knowing what to wear in the colder months. A capsule wardrobe is intentional and filled with foundational pieces that match everything in your wardrobe and that can even work for a variety of seasons as well!
A winter capsule wardrobe will not only provide you with numerous outfit ideas for the winter months, but you can feel good knowing that you can wear these clothes the next season and the next because they will never go out of style.
You can spend less time getting ready in the morning and trying to figure out what matches what, since everything goes. Plus, you can actually put together better looks because your wardrobe is full of stylish staples!
The best thing about a capsule wardrobe is that it’s a great opportunity to really get creative and have fun with fashion. When you have fewer statement items and fewer clothes in general, it forces you to get more creative and put together a new stylish look.
Not only that, but this is a sustainable practice as you are shopping less often and when you do shop, it’s usually from high-quality sustainable places.
Having basic and foundational items still allows you to create different outfits and put together different styles- it doesn’t mean wearing a t-shirt and jeans for the rest of your life!
Boring? I don’t know her.
How many pieces should you have?
The answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all, as we all have different jobs, lifestyles, and even different ideas of what “winter” looks like for us. (Jealous of you, Texans.)
But if you’re looking for a rough number to get started, 30 or less is a good number to keep in your head. Some people when they think “capsule wardrobe” think they have to dress “boring” and slash their closet in half. Well, not exactly.
But most people only wear 20% of what they have 80% of the time. Meaning, you tend to gravitate towards the same pieces anyway and there’s a lot in your closet you could probably get rid of. There is tons of science-backed research on the benefits of having less. But, you don’t want to cut so much out that you struggle to put together outfits and the joy gets drained from fashion.
(Oh, this black top again? It’s the 5th time this week…)
What clothing items to have in your winter capsule wardrobe
Use this list as a resource to get you started. Just remember that if something doesn’t fit with your personal style, lifestyle, age, or climate, don’t get it or swap it out for something similar!
As an example, here’s a 30 piece winter wardrobe of clothing items, not including accessories and winter gear.
- Long sleeve top in a basic color x3
- Cashmere sweater
- Striped sweater
- Relaxed fit button down
- Thick, wool sweater
- Sweater vest
Long sleeve top- For the winter season, it might be time to retire your short sleeve tops for something a little bit warmer. A long sleeve top is a great base to layer on top of. No matter the season, solid, simple, and neutral tops are always a great way to make endless outfits.
Get the two neutral colors that fit your wardrobe the best, whether that’s black, white, brown, gray, or navy blue. You could also switch out the long sleeve top for a bodysuit if that’s what you like!
Turtleneck- Not only is this a classic and timeless piece, but it keeps your neck covered so it’s practical too.
Cashmere sweater- Warm yet lightweight, this is a great piece to have for more streamlined outfits and layering.
Striped sweater- A little print is important to have in your capsule wardrobe! Bonus points for a classic print.
Relaxed fit button-down– This wardrobe staple is a must-have all year. Look for a relaxed and looser fit so you don’t sacrifice comfort. Plus, it will be easier to layer under your cashmere sweater and sweater vest.
Thick sweater- You need at least one thick sweater option-it’s winter after all! Look for something thick and warm, like a wool cable knit sweater.
Sweater vest- Though more fashion than function, a sweater vest is a nice way to add some style to your looks. Layer over a white button-down.
- Faux leather leggings (or pants)
- Straight leg jeans
- Black skinny jeans
- Cropped flared dark blue jeans
- Plaid or wool pants
Faux leather leggings- Fall and winter are the best time to break out some leather. It adds an extra dimension to your outfit and gives it a little edge.
Straight leg jeans- It’s nice to add a new style of jeans to your wardrobe rotation. Straight-leg jeans look cool with ankle boots too.
Black skinny jeans- Black jeans look a little more dressed up than blue denim. Plus your knee-high boots will fit over these nicely!
Cropped flared dark blue jeans- Take style notes from Parisian women and add a pair of cropped flared (or kick flare) jeans to your closet. Wear with ankle boots, Chelsea boots, or combat boots.
Plaid or wool pants- Denim is great, but having a non-denim option is great too. Wear these with boots and sweaters.
- Black blazer
- Tweed/wool blazer
- Fitted cardigan
- Long cardigan
- Chunky cardigan
Black blazer- Classic and simple, a black blazer adds a polished element to any look.
Tweed/wool blazer- A sophisticated option and usually warmer than your standard blazer!
Fitted cardigan- A fitted cardigan is great for when you need to look more professional and put together.
Long cardigan- Especially great for wearing over leggings, but can go with anything in your wardrobe.
Chunky cardigan- This cozy cardigan can be worn with everything from basic tops to sweater dresses.
Sweatshirt- For when you want a casual outfit option. Yet, it can easily be dressed up too.
- Camel wool coat
- Black (pea)coat
- Puffer coat or quilted coat
- Faux-fur coat
Camel coat- The crème de la crème of coats. A wool camel coat (belted or not) is perfect for classic style. Wear with anything from jeans to leather leggings! Ideally, this coat would hit past your knees for added elegance.
Black coat- If you already have a long camel coat option, then it’s a good idea to get the opposite for added versatility to your wardrobe. Opt for a shorter one, like a peacoat, if you prefer.
Puffer coat or quilted coat– This waterproof item is great to have for the weekends or other casual and more athletic looks.
Faux fur coat- Warmth and style. A faux fur coat is a great place to show off some personality, whether it’s animal print or a bold color.
Teddy coats are one of those items where I personally can’t decide if it’s a trend or a staple, but you could add one too if you like the style.
SKIRTS & DRESSES (2)
- Sweater dress
- Wool, suede, or knit skirt
Sweater dress- Keeping your legs extra covered is usually preferred in the colder months, but having one nice dress is a must-have. Plus, a sweater dress is very comfortable too, so who can resist?
Skirt- A skirt in wool, suede, or knit is a great dressier option to have for winter. This can be dressed down with leggings or dressed up for church, Christmas, Thanksgiving, formal events, or work.
- Ankle boots
- Knee-high boots
- Chelsea lug sole boots (all-purpose, waterproof)
- Combat boots
Ankle boots- A pair of black leather ankle boots will probably be your most worn pair. They’re so classic and match everything.
Knee-high boots- Keep your legs better protected but look chic too. Wear with a sweater dress, skirt, or skinny jeans.
Chelsea boots- Chelsea boots have been around for a while and have since slipped into the “staple” category. A lug sole is great for winter because it provides more secure footing. Plus, they can be trendy so it’s nice to update your wardrobe a little bit. Bonus points for them being waterproof!
Combat boots- Though not as all-purpose as Chelsea boots, a pair of combat boots add a slight edge to your outfits and can easily switch up the style of your existing outfits.
If you want to add more pairs of shoes, you could add sneakers and loafers. Though this is very dependent on your weather!
ACCESSORIES & EXTRAS (not included in the numbers)
- Tote bag
- Classic handbag
- Gold necklace
When it comes to accessories in the winter, you really don’t need much! After all, it’s your coat and boots that do all the talking.
A black tote bag and a brown classic handbag add a nice versatility to your outfits, and when it comes to jewelry, think simple yet sweet with gold hoops and a gold necklace.
Of course, a scarf is more than just function. It plays a big part in style! Go with a simple cashmere scarf or an oversized scarf- it’s up to you.
Cashmere gloves and a cashmere hat are a chic way to stay warm in the winter. Save the snow gear for shoveling the snow.
And lastly, you’ll probably want a few good pairs of tights and leggings to wear under your dress and skirt.
Winter capsule wardrobe outfit ideas
Without further ado, here are 60 outfits using these pieces!
(If you’re on mobile and want to save these collages to Pinterest, just tap the image.)
Black Long Sleeve Shirt
White Turtleneck (similar)
Camel Cashmere Sweater
Black & White Striped Sweater
Relaxed Fit White Button Down (similar)
Cableknit Sweater (similar)
Sweater Vest (similar)
Faux Leather Leggings
Straight Leg Jeans
Black Skinny Jeans (similar)
Cropped Flared Dark Blue Jeans (similar)
Tweed Blazer (similar)
Long Cardigan (similar)
Faux Fur Coat (similar)
Skirts & Dresses
Sweater Dress (similar)
Ankle boots (similar)
Knee-high boots (similar)
Combat boots (similar)
Accessories & Extra Tote Bag
Where to shop
Before starting to shop from scratch, take a look at your fall/autumn wardrobe to see what would work for your winter wardrobe. The beauty of a capsule wardrobe is that it’s so versatile, so you may already have a good jump start on this list just from past years!
As you shop for these items, be prepared for a large up-front cost if you can swing it. The idea is that you invest in pieces you’ll wear for many, many years to come. And since these will stand the test of time, you don’t have to worry about wasting your money. It may seem like an extra cost at first, but you’ll get your money’s worth in the long run.
If this is your first time getting started with capsule wardrobes, audit your existing wardrobe first. What do you already have that can work? Then, after going through this post, create a shopping list of what you’re missing based on what you can actually see yourself wearing.
Next, use the places below for ideas on where to get started shopping! You can always shop second-hand too. I’ve found many great quality pieces at such a great price.
Some top places to shop for quality winter pieces are:
Madewell- quality jeans, boots, bags, and sweaters
Quince- cashmere gloves, hats, sweaters, and sweater dresses at an affordable price
Nap- for all things cozy. Cardigans, sweaters, and coats.
Uniqlo- affordable, quality basics such as sweaters
Everlane- great jeans, sweaters, and shoes
Italic- top-notch quality in everything
Mango- great coats
Amazon Essentials is a great option for basic pieces if you’re on a budget.
How to freshen up your capsule wardrobe
Though this post is based on a classic style, if you want to have your closet feel a little more updated and trendy, then the best way to do this is to mix up your styling!
If you always wear knee-high boots with your sweater dress, then try a chunky pair of Chelsea boots instead. Try mixing something casual (graphic sweatshirt) with something polished (plaid pants). I just know you’ll surprise yourself with how much you like your new looks.
Layering is always a top fashion trick into creating style, but even more so in winter! You can get away with way more creative layers, so layer pieces to create style. Whether that’s a coat over a cardigan over a basic tee or a coat over a sweatshirt over a dress-it all goes in the name of fashion.
Now that you got your winter capsule wardrobe covered, it doesn’t hurt to get a head start on the other seasons. For tips on putting together a fall capsule wardrobe and a spring/summer capsule wardrobe, keep reading!
Classic Fall Capsule Wardrobe (Shopping List, Outfit Ideas, & More!)
Minimalist French Capsule Wardrobe for Fall/Winter
A Classic Capsule Wardrobe for Summer
How to Create a French Capsule Wardrobe for Spring & Summer