Planning My Autumn Capsule Wardrobe

We don’t really experience seasons in the sunshine state, so I never bothered transitioning my closet from summer to fall, or planning an autumn capsule wardrobe. There aren’t any changing leaves or drastic weather changes to signify the start of autumn. Plus, 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. If you don’t rotate the inventory in your closet, seeing the same stuff day after day gets boring. 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 autumn capsule wardrobe 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.

If you haven’t weeded through your wardrobe in a while, be prepared. Things get really bad before they get really good. Will you feel tempted midway-through to lie in the pile and cry? Or want to burn the whole thing down and start over? Maybe. It’s part of the process; pour yourself a glass of wine and lean into it.

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2. Keep/Donate/Toss.

As you assess each of your pieces — try things on if necessary! — sort them into three piles. 1.) Your favorite, most-worn pieces that you want to keep. 2.) Things that don’t fit, or or you haven’t worn in ages. Consider donating* them, or consigning them if there’s a good shop in your area. 3.) Items that are stained/damaged/worn-to-death that need to retire to the trash.

You may find it fun/helpful to do this part with a stylish friend. Someone who can be objective and honest about what needs to go. Give them booze and 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 fall 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. (!!)

Extra tips:

Design your closet like you’re merchandising a retail boutique, even if you’re working with a tiny space. This will make you more excited about what’s in there. (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. . 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.

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. The trick to successful seasonal capsule wardrobe editing is to keep your non-seasonal stash accessible but out of sight. Anna recommends storing your non-seasonal items in an empty suitcase — so smart because it maximizes usable space. I fold everything, sort it into categories, and put it all away 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 the fun of unpacking your spring/summer pieces the following year and rediscovering your favorites. I don’t know why I never thought of this! As a habitual closet culler who often experiences purge regret, this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach is really effective for me.

5. Make your autumn capsule wardrobe shopping list.

Now it’s easy to see what you do and don’t need to add to your autumn capsule wardrobe. For example: I’m fully stocked with sweaters, tees and most styles of denim, but I’m light on outerwear. So when I spot blazers, coats and vegan leather jackets on sale, I scoop 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. 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.

With all my basics covered, I consider the special investment pieces I want to add to my wardrobe. Like quality flats/loafers/ankle boots that I can wear around the shop all season. Or a new leather tote in a rich fall color. Perhaps a pair of fun animal print pumps (with a comfy block heel please). Or a few statement blouses in a seasonal print. Maybe some delicate layering jewelry in brass or gold. I love adding special detail pieces to elevate simple outfits.

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.

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  1. 10.13.18

    It’s that time of the year! I just did a fall closet overhaul myself!

  2. 9.29.18
    John and Carolina Jenkins said:

    I am going to clean out my closets out next week! Thanks Keira!

  3. 9.27.18
    Hannah said:

    Can we get a detailed round up?! Would be so helpful!! :)

    • 9.27.18

      Absolutely! I’ll work on it this weekend and try to get it up next week!

  4. 9.21.18

    There really is something to be said about putting your hands on every item in your closet at least twice a year between cooler and warmer seasons and reevaluating.

  5. 9.18.18
    mystyle5 said:

    I absolutely loved your article, Keira- really well written and hugely informative and helpful. I just went through the summer to fall wardrobe cleaning and am now looking forward to rocking all my fall items :)

  6. 9.18.18
    John and Carolina Jenkins said:

    Keira this is something that i have got to do, and you have really got me going ! Thanks