Planning My Autumn Capsule Wardrobe + my fall shopping wish list!

We don’t really experience seasons in the sunshine state, so I’ve never bothered transitioning my closet from summer to fall; there aren’t any changing leaves or drastic weather changes to signify the start of autumn and it’s so hot down here we basically wear the same stuff for 80% of the year.

While watching Anna’s latest capsule wardrobe update, I had an epiphany: when you don’t rotate the inventory in your closet, it’s easy to get bored seeing the same stuff day after day; nothing feels fresh or exciting, so there’s constant temptation to add new pieces to spice things up. By starting the season with a selection of pared-down basics and treating yourself to a few special investment pieces, you’ll slowly build a year-round wardrobe you love and reduce those instant-gratification impulse purchases.

Armed with inspiration from Anna’s organization tips and capsule picks (I love her style) I spent last Sunday afternoon getting my closet ready for the new season. Let’s break down how I did it, and then we’ll jump into my shopping wish list for fall/winter.

1. Take everything out of your closet.

Yes, everything! Heap it all on your bed or a clean sheet spread across the floor so you can go through every piece, one-by-one.

I dropped a small fortune at Bed Bath & Beyond and reorganized my closet at the start of the summer so this wasn’t too daunting for me, but if it’s been a while since you weeded through your wardrobe, be prepared for things to get really bad before they get really good. Will you feel tempted midway-through to lie in the pile and cry and/or burn the whole thing down to start over? Maybe. It’s part of the process; pour yourself a glass of wine and lean into it.

Blog GIF 02
Very relatable closet cleaning GIF via ThredUp — which is a great place to sell your gently-worn pieces online and shop secondhand.

2. Keep/Donate/Toss.

As you assess each of your pieces — try things on if necessary! — sort them into three piles: your favorite, most-worn pieces that you want to keep; things that don’t fit or you haven’t worn in ages that you would like to donate* (or consign if there’s a good shop in your area); and items that are stained/damaged/worn-to-death that need to retire to the trash.

You may find it more fun/helpful to do this part with a stylish friend who can be objective and honest about what you should part with; give them booze and/or snacks and they’ll be happy to be your Stacy and Clinton in the sorting process.

*If you’re local, my favorite non-profit places to donate gently-worn clothing, shoes and accessories are The Women’s Resource Center, Meals On Wheels and Top Buttons.

3. Put your autumn pieces back in your closet.

When you’ve boxed up your donations and thrown out the garbage, go to work on your ‘keep’ pile: pull out all the spring and summer pieces — light day dresses, resort wear, white/distressed jeans, shorts, seasonal tops, summer colors and prints, etc. — and set them aside; we’ll deal with them later.

What’s left are the year-round basics and fall/winter pieces that will be the foundation of your autumn capsule wardrobe. Neatly hang/fold/stack them back in your closet and marvel at all the space you’re saving with this seasonally-edited collection. (!!)

Some tips: Design your closet like you’re merchandising a retail boutique, even if you’re working with a tiny space. (If you watch Queer Eye, Tan is the master of this.) If it’s in your budget, matching hangers make a huge impact on the visual appeal of your closet, which will make you more excited about what’s in there. I invested in wood hangers years ago and it was the best decision; you can find a set of 30 on Amazon here. Felt hangers are another great option, and you can get a pack of 100 for $39.99. If you don’t have a lot of hanging space in your closet, these double-hang rod extenders are a lifesaver. Also, good lighting is important in small spaces: these GE Reveal light bulbs give a clean, bright light that’s the next best thing to natural daylight; they’re the best for makeup application, so I use them in my bathroom, too.

My Closet Organization Favorites

4. Pack up your spring and summer stuff.

Now we’re going to stow away all the spring and summer pieces we put aside in step 3. I’m new at this, but I think the trick to successful seasonal capsule wardrobe editing is to keep your non-seasonal stash accessible (i.e., not in boxes in the attic where you’ll forget about them for the rest of eternity) but out of sight. Anna recommends storing your non-seasonal items in an empty suitcase — so smart because it maximizes usable space — but I folded everything, sorted it into categories (tops, bottoms, dresses) and put it all away in these sturdy woven storage totes on the top shelf of my closet. (Storage totes and seagrass baskets are a great way to hide clutter and add to the boutique vibe of your space.)

In her video, Anna mentions how fun it is to unpack your spring/summer pieces the following year and rediscover your favorites. I don’t know why I never thought of this! As a habitual closet culler who often experiences purge regret, I think this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach is going to be really effective for me; I hope it all feels fresh and new after 6-7 months of being stashed away.

 

5. Make a capsule wardrobe shopping list.

Now that you’re familiar with your entire inventory and all your autumn pieces are organized and front-and-center in your closet, it’s easy to see what you do and don’t need to add to your collection for the season. For example, I’m fully stocked with sweaters, tees, chambray shirts — seriously, how did I end up with so many chambray shirts? — and most styles of denim; I don’t need to buy any of these until next spring (with the exception of one or two pairs of jeans on my wish list). I realized I was lacking in outerwear, so when I spotted blazers and vegan leather jackets on major sale at Belk on Sunday, I scooped them up.

The best way for me to stay on track is to make a seasonal shopping wish list. I keep it in my notes on my phone and refer to it when I’m shopping online or in stores; if it’s not on the list, I don’t buy it. This is something I’ve done for years, but it’s even easier to spot the gaps in my wardrobe now that it’s edited for the season.

If you’re new to capsule wardrobes, or just want to edit your closet down to the best versatile basics, this list from AJ is still one of my favorites.

Since all my basics are covered, this is where special investment pieces come in: quality flats/loafers/ankle boots that I can wear around the shop all season; a new leather tote in a rich fall color; fun animal print pumps (with a comfy block heel please); a few statement blouses in a seasonal print; delicate layering jewelry in brass or gold; and the suede moto jacket I’ve been eyeing every fall for years.

If you’re interested in a detailed roundup of what’s in my autumn capsule wardrobe, leave a message in the comments and I’ll work on putting one together before the end of the month! It may be helpful if you’re trying to create a capsule wardrobe on your own and aren’t sure where to start; especially if you’re a fan of minimal, unfussy style with fun pops of color and print (*hand-raising emoji*).

Full disclosure: This wish list round up contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission from the retailer if you make a purchase from my recommendation. You can click the images to take you right to the shopping link, and if you’d like a sale alert from ShopStyle (one of my favorite tools for snagging great deals) just click the little heart below the images and it will help you set up a free account to save all your shopping alerts!