A Stylist Weighs in on the 11 Pieces You Need in Your Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Investing in the classics is all it takes.
Last Updated
Aug 16, 2022

Whether you live for sweater weather or not, we’re here to let you in on a concept that will change how you shop for it: the fall capsule wardrobe. When it comes to seasonal fashion, owning certain key pieces is a must. Trendy items are great, but wardrobe basics will stay with you season after season and year after year. As you collect them, you can accent your wardrobe with trendier items.

Though fall styles range from minimalist boots to button-downs, ​​one thing is certain: each garment is built to perfection with timelessness top of mind. When you create a fall capsule wardrobe, you will save time and money, always look well-styled, and never fret over what to wear. That said, building a smart fall capsule wardrobe takes a masterful eye, which is why we tapped Editorialist stylist Tiffany Fernandez for expert tips. Read ahead and shop her favorite polished, dependable, stylist-approved fall capsule wardrobe pieces, all of which will help you get back to basics and create aspirational autumn outfits.

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The Fall Capsule Shirt: Simple Button-Down

A crisp button-down is a timeless staple. It instantly adds sophistication to any look and is the ubiquitous star of any wardrobe. “Season after season, I style my clients in classic button-downs from Celine and Christian Dior,” says Fernandez. “It’s the secret to looking well-curated, whether you’re wearing one with slacks for the office or paired with an elegant skirt for a night out.

How to Wear It: Fernandez recommends pairing yours with ’90s-style jeans, a blazer, and a crew neck sweater over the shoulders.

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The Fall Capsule Handbag: Soft Shoulder Bag

The most relaxed capsule piece of them all is the soft shoulder bag. “This bag is so practical and transitional—it works with everything,” says Fernandez. Each season, designers reimagine the accessory in new ways that speak to both the die-hard and newly enlisted fans of the minimalist aesthetic. For the person who can’t hold back from new-and-now pieces, go with the Chanel 22 bag. If you want to keep it more evergreen, you can’t go wrong with a purse from Tom Ford, The Row, or Esther Ekeme.

How to Wear It: These bags pair perfectly with midi leather skirts or parachute pants and your first chai latte of the season.

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The Fall Capsule Shoe: Loafers

Sticking with polished pieces, you’ll also want to invest in a loafer. “Yes, ballet flats and mules are great, but there’s nothing like a loafer,” says Fernandez. “They make your outfit a little more structured and add a preppy sensibility." 

On the runway, our favorite designers are championing women’s loafers like never before. Luxury labels such as Prada, Proenza Schouler, Tod’s, and Totême roll out classics and offbeat styles in equal measure. From classic designer loafers to lug-sole and driving loafers, all styles effortlessly deliver sophisticated ease. 

How to Wear It: This fail-safe shoe looks snazzy with tailored bottoms and jeans and is an unexpected offset to feminine maxi dresses and mini skirts.

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The Fall Capsule Pant: Wide-Leg Trousers

Consider wide-leg trousers your secret weapon to a fashionable fall. ​​They’re one part sophisticated and one part laidback cool, and when you find the perfect pair, they’re guaranteed to hold a prime place in your closet for years to come. 

This season’s timeless silhouettes are voluminous, allowing freedom of movement and laid-back nonchalance. Take Isabel Marant’s Jessini Pants. This palazzo style makes a unique update on the classic suit pant. On the other hand, Frankie Shop’s Maesa Cargo pant lends itself to the utilitarian trend, but its fluid silhouette promises it’ll stick around for next year’s wear.

How to Wear It: To put a contemporary spin on classic suiting, pair your tailoring with a graphic T-shirt, or mix and match by opting for a blazer and pants in contrasting colors. Elevate with barely-there sandals.

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The Fall Capsule Jacket: A Blazer

Sure, leather jackets and bombers are great, but blazers are a seasonless staple. No matter if it’s a black double-breasted blazer, an oversized check-print blazer​​, or one that’s white with padded shoulders, each blazer can wrap the wearer in a layer of warmth and leave them looking prim and proper.

We'd be remiss to do an edit of blazers and not mention the key players: Acne Studios, Peter Petrov, Musier Paris, and Isabel Marant. These labels are known for their staple pieces, especially blazers with clean tailoring and pared-back designs that you can wear season after season. “Celine and Khaite also make luxury blazers that elevate any outfit,” Fernandez adds.

How to Wear It: For a business casual look, style with lightweight denim and Nike Air Force 1s.

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The Fall Capsule Coat: The Trench Coat

Top off your autumn wardrobe with a trench coat. While Burberry’s light and weatherproof coat may be the most iconic to transition your summer favorites into fall, other luxury labels are not far behind. Max Mara, Theory, and Totême’s cashmere and wool coats are perfect examples of timeless designs with lasting appeal. But no matter the fabric, the trench’s minimal design always appears dynamic and effortlessly chic. 

How to Wear It: Layer yours over shorts, knee-high boots, and a sweater for the beginning of the season.

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The Fall Capsule Skirt: The Midi

Perennially chic and infinitely wearable, the midi skirt is a true classic that no woman’s closet should be without. It boasts the kind of wear-with-anything appeal that makes it a year-round styling essential. "It’s also a great alternative when you get bored of always wearing denim,” Fernandez adds. 

This season, take cues from Vince, Stella McCartney, Ceffin, and Khaite, whose full-skirted options help create fashionable looks that work for various occasions.

How to Wear It: Fernandez recommends styling a skirt with a knit sweater, booties, and a chunky necklace or glitzy earrings.

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The Fall Capsule Frock: A Knit Dress

The humble sweater dress is a piece you can slip into and feel put together. More importantly, it’s incredibly comfortable, flattering, and endlessly versatile. This season, Chloé debuted a chunky maxi knit featuring autumnal stripes. Similarly innovative, Self Portrait's bodycon midi dress combines a sweetheart neckline and long sleeves with flared cuffs to sublime effect. By Malene Birger and Nanushka’s offerings are equally as elegant with silhouettes that combine the classic understated look of a dress with the soft coziness of a sweater.​​ 

How to Wear It: Fernandez recommends styling your dress of choice with gold accessories, tall boots, and a trench coat.

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The Fall Capsule Sweater

Fall is the official start of sweater weather, so get your ducks in a row and invest in three or four quality knits. Have nouveau neutrals and simple silhouettes on rotation. Also, ensure you have a range of sweaters in different weights because fall weather is known to keep us on our toes—some days are freezing and others are sweltering. 

Khaite’s Jo Cashmere-Blend and The Row’s Ciba Turtleneck are great for warmer days when you don’t need a coat, while Khaite’s Ciba Turtleneck and Totême’s Stripe Sweater are ideal for cold-weather days when you want to stay at home. And because all of these pieces shine bright for being year-after-year essentials, you can mix and match them with your favorite trends of the season to look and feel fashion-forward. 

How to Wear It: “A sweater is a staple piece for the fall, so there are so many ways to style one,” says Ferdnadez. “My favorite way to style my clients in them is throwing a sweater over a midi skirt and finishing the look with lug-sole boots.”

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The Fall Capsule Tall Boot

Many boot silhouettes transcend the trend cycle, but the tall boot is the most classic. If your current pair is beat up, now’s your chance for a refresh. Designers such as Aquatalia, Khaite, Bottega Veneta, and Gianvito Rossi have elevated their tried-and-true designs because there is no show of letting up in terms of popularity. These styles feature everything from stovepipe silhouettes to modern western-style creations. As for the heel, anything goes—no heel, kitten heel, or even a stiletto. 

How to Wear It: “For days when you want to wear something shorter, reach for a tall boot as it will elevate your outfit,” says Fernandez. For example, match a refined and versatile boot with a solid-colored mini dress and tights.

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The Fall Capsule Short Boot

The short boot is the first thing you’ll find in an off-duty model’s starter pack. It works for the transition to fall and every day afterward. Between 3.1 Philip Lim’s combat boot style and Chloé’s leather Chelsea boot silhouette, this is the boot edit you’ll look back to each year. “Chanel and Isabel Marant also make great short boots that you can wear forever,” adds Fernandez.

How to Wear It: Whether you’re styling a look for a night out, lunch with a friend, or a day in the office, pair these boots with a cropped cardigan, high-waisted midi skirt, and a designer tote bag.

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