Winter Capsule Wardrobe Basics

Winter Capsule Wardrobe Basics

Baby it’s cold outside! and I LOVE winter weather clothing. Leggings, fuzzy socks, chunky-knit sweaters… the thought of it all makes me want to curl up under a blanket with a book and a cup of coffee. Winter made its official appearance this year and with most people taking time off this holiday packed week, it’s a great time to pull out that winter gear. 

This is my first winter 1) as a SAHM and 2) embracing the capsule wardrobe. I pulled out lightweight sweaters back in October when the colder temps hit Oklahoma. Now it is officially time to get my thick-knit sweaters and coat ready. While winter in the Sooner State is mild compared to New England or the northern Midwest, I still need that heavier gear – just no snow suits!

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Quality Over Quantity

I love sweaters as much as the next girl, but do you really need 15 of them? Unless you loath laundry to the point of only doing it once every two weeks, you shouldn’t need 15 different sweaters in one wardrobe. Several good quality sweaters should suit your needs. *Bonus points if it is from a sustainable fashion brand!*

Most of us have multiples of items that we love. For me it is Lula Roe leggings. And yeah, in the winter I wear leggings as pants (with a shirt or dress that covers my tush mind you) – no judging! For some it’s sweaters, for others it’s jackets and coats. If there is truly one item in your wardrobe that is your go-to favorite staple, there is no shame in having more than one! The quantities that I recommend are purely based on my personal preferences and needs.

Cold Weather Accessories 

  1. Beanie – I personally love, love my Carhartt beanie. If I had to buy a new one though, I would totally chose a “men’s” color over any of the colors offered on the women’s side. This has been with me to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and through several winters. It’s machine wash safe, so whatever you’re doing this winter, it will stand up to the test. 
  2. Gloves – Two to three pairs of gloves should work for most people. I have a bad habit tendency to leave a pair of gloves in my car during the winter. Then when I go for a walk, I can’t find them! Or I have a wet pair that isn’t dry yet (Oklahoma snow is nasty wet y’all) and need a fresh set to go outside in. Pictured is a knit pair, a heavy fleece pair (yes they’re pink! I’m too cheap to buy new, solid color ones), and a medium weight pair that works well with coat that I normally wore to work. You can find similar medium weight gloves here.
  3. Scarf – I think of scarves as an item to keep me warm but also an accessory for the outfit that I’m wearing. I often will leave my scarf on after I’ve taken off my coat. For that reason, I have two go-to scarves in my closet: a cream color and black. Both are pashmina style scarves. I’ve had both for more than 10 years and both were gifts! I wore the cream one on my first flight to Europe and it doubled as a blanket. This one is 50% wider than mine and looks mighty warm and comfy!

Outerwear 

Outerwear is one of the most expensive parts of a winter wardrobe. Instead of buying several cheap coats, investing in one that will last is going to save you in the long run. 

  • Heavy Coat – The first heavy coat I owned as an adult lasted 6 years before I decided that it didn’t work well with carrying a baby around. It was the green peacoat in the picture below (with my black pashmina scarf to boot!). Now that I have Little Guy, it has been easier to transition to a puffer coat. It’s not a super fluffy one, but it’s mighty toasty.
  • Medium Weight Jacket – I lighter layer is essential for layering and getting you from fall to winter and winter to spring. In Oklahoma the past few weeks, we’ve seen temperatures ranging from the teens into the sixties. There are two versions that I like to have in my wardrobe: the full-zip and the quarter-zip or pull-over style. Both of my jackets are Columbia. My full-zip Columbia jacket was bought in 2012 and has held up wonderfully with NO pilling. No wonder it is an Amazon #1 best seller! My quarter-zip Columbia was a custom order that my sorority did back in 2010. It is still my go-to for wearing around the house and on quick errands when the temps aren’t too low.
  • Hoodie – In my capsule wardrobe, I’m not sure if I count this one which is why it isn’t pictured. I wear it camping (I don’t count any of my athletic or camping gear in any part of my capsules since it is year round) and around the house if I’m cleaning. My husband also wears it on occasion, ha! If a hoodie is more your style than a quarter-zip fleece, then add it in. 

Tops

  1. Long sleeve shirts – I only have one top that is a long sleeve t-shirt style shirt in my capsule wardrobe. Why? It is probably because it’s the only one that I’ve loved over the years. You might be a shirt instead of sweater person, and that’s okay. My husband is that way – he loves his plain Hane’s long sleeve tees.
  2. Sweaters – Again, this isn’t a category that I have a lot in. The thought of being trapped in a hot sweater all day without being able to layer down makes me sweaty already! My three are ultra comfy and have been in my wardrobe for at least the last four years.
  3. Cardigans and blazers – In the cold months I wear longer heavier weight cardigans. It has become part of my everyday uniform. I have two heavy sweaters that I can take off if I get too hot and two longer cardigans that go great with leggings and a longer top. My heavy cashmere sweater (the blue, red, and gray one) is my favorite thing to wear. It’s very comfortable and adds a touch of color to my otherwise neutral wardrobe. I also have a blazer that can be worn with almost any of my tops for dressier functions if needed. 

Bottoms

  1. Leggings and tights – both leggings and tights offer the element of layering when it is cold out. Tights are more work space and formal appropriate while leggings provide more warmth. Since I no longer work in an office, I have zero pairs of tights (none lasted from last winter!). The amount of leggings in my capsule winter wardrobe is just the right amount. I have five pairs that I rotate throughout the week. One pair is specifically worn to ugly sweater parties!

Shoes

  • Boots – Two pairs of knee-high boots live in my closet during the fall and winter. Originally, I was only going to purchase the brown pair but the salesman and Tradehome talked me into buying the black pair because they were on such a great sale! I’m glad he did because I have no problem wearing the black pair to dinners and parties while the brown pair I wear more casually. 
  • Snow boots – While I don’t have a pair of dedicated snow boots (sometimes it snows in Oklahoma and sometimes it doesn’t – Mother Nature can’t ever make up her mind!), I use my Ahnu hiking boots to brave the snow. I list them on here since so many people that live north of Oklahoma have them and only bring them out for three months a year! These babies have been through mud and melting snow in the spring time Tetons of Wyoming. They’re great on ice and are excellent at keeping moisture out.

What is out year round – the basics to my capsule wardrobe

  1. Short sleeve shirts– Summer style tops on a winter post… am I crazy? Nope! I wear my group of year round short sleeves tops through the winter. I layer them with one of my cardigans or a scarf and they are perfect to wear indoors. Especially if I’m home all day, I don’t want to wear a sweater that I can’t easily take off or layer down.
  2. Dresses – In my closet, I have five dresses that I keep out year round. They layer well with leggings and cardigans in the winters, but are great on their own in the spring and summer. They can be dressed up with a blazer or cardigan.
  3. Jeans – Jeans have become a work horse in American closets. They go with anything (other than more denim) and can last for years. I own one pair to wear day to day and another for working outside or camping (since the second pair isn’t used every week or even month, I don’t include it in my wardrobe “piece count”). Buying a quality pair of jeans is important. They’ll last longer and most likely have a great cut. If you buy a new pair of cheap jeans every year then it might be time to upgrade if you are the same size from year to year. Even last year when I was pregnant I wore these jeans with a belly band. Maternity jeans aren’t for me!
  4. Skirts – Skirts were a staple in my work wardrobe. Now that I’m at home full-time, I don’t have a need to be in “business casual” all the time. I do have one skirt that is in my closet year round. The solid teal matches with most of my tops and cardigans. This would be worn to a wedding, funeral, a work party for my husband, etc. The best part about this skirt is that it has shown almost NO wear even though it’s been worn probably 100 times. 
  5. Shoes – As much as I love boots, a girl has got to have more than two pairs of shoes. I always have my Converse, one in black and one in white, out plus two pairs of ballet flats. My Nike’s are also out all year. As much as I loved wearing heels to work, they are packed away and only used for formal occasions (two pairs). Spring and summer shoes, Chaco’s and Sperry’s, are also packed away for a rainy spring day. 
  6. Athletic wear, PJs, etc – I often see this question asked in my minimalists groups on Facebook, what do you do with your PJs in a capsule wardrobe? I personally am not a big fan of those matching fleece or flannel PJ sets because I get tangled up. My “sleepwear” we’ll call it, stays in a drawer in my dresser all year. I have three t-shirts and a few pairs of old sweatpants I wear to bed. Same with athletic and hiking wear, it has its own drawer I share with my husband in our dresser. 

I have fallen in love with my rotating wardrobe. My winter capsule wardrobe might just be my favorite. It eliminates the feeling that I “need” to buy something or that I have nothing to wear! I’ll be posting my Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe some time in March so subscribe to my blog through email or like Hello Brownlow on social media!

2 thoughts on “Winter Capsule Wardrobe Basics”

  1. Hahaha I always leave my gloves around too ! Can never find them when I need them. Great article !! So stylish !

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