We love the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Having a core collection of super-versatile garments that can be mixed and matched to deal with every dress code and social situation is sartorial perfection. It allows you to dress well on a stripped-back selection of clothes, which is ultimately better for your bank balance and better for the planet than blindly jumping from trend to trend.
Unfortunately, achieving this minimalist dream does come with a few challenges – particularly for those of us who have to deal with hot summers and cold winters. If you want to maintain your capsule wardrobe year-round, you’ll have to make some seasonal adjustments. This largely means adding a few auxiliary pieces when the cold spell hits. Doing so will allow you to dress appropriately for the temperature, and stop your outfits from becoming stale.
To help, we’ve rounded up some of the key pieces you might want to consider adding to your capsule wardrobe in preparation for winter’s arrival. We’ve stuck to classic, versatile pieces you’ll be able to get a lot of wear out of, aiming to incorporate extra warmth and add punches of texture wherever possible.
Big, cosy, versatile, smart and timelessly cool (although it is trending somewhat hard right now) – what more could you possibly want from a piece of outerwear? A high-quality overcoat is the perfect winter addition to a capsule wardrobe. If you incorporate just one thing from our list, make it this.
There are a few different variations to choose from, ranging from macs and trench coats to heavy wool versions with tailored details like lapels and padded shoulders. For maximum wearability across your whole wardrobe, we’d suggest going for something unstructured in wool, in a neutral colour like beige or navy, or striking camel for the extroverts, which you’ll be able to throw on top of anything and everything.
Down is one of the best insulators in terms of warmth to weight. It’s extremely light and comfortable to wear, but it will keep you far warmer than most other alternatives by trapping body heat and locking it in.
There are a few different types of down jackets, and they largely fall into three distinct categories: lightweight/technical, puffer and parka. Puffer jackets and parkas are designed for extreme cold, they look great, and they’re perfect for winter as outer layers. But to maximise versatility, go for something lighter that can be layered on top of as well as being used as a top layer.
If you don’t like the idea of down, there are some excellent synthetic alternatives out there that do basically the same job. Check out Rains, Patagonia, Uniqlo, Arc’teryx, The North Face and Canada Goose.
Chunky Knit Sweater
Chunky, heavyweight knits have been keeping fishermen warm for centuries in some of the harshest conditions out there. Imagine what they can do for you on your morning coffee run in December.
Not only are they extremely warm and great for layering up, but they add a nice bit of texture to your winter outfits, creating depth and drawing the eye in.
A good chunky sweater should fit well in the shoulders and body, but without being tight – you want a little bit of room for movement and for layering. Cream and biscuit tones are great for this type of garment as they are extremely versatile and will bring some light to winter outfits that can otherwise end up quite dull and dark.
Team yours with indigo jeans, lugged boots and a green parka jacket for a classic, casual winter look.
Mohair has been having a moment for a while now. If you’ve been putting off adding a piece to your wardrobe, now would be a good time. It’s a pretty safe bet at this point and we can’t see it going anywhere any time soon. It’s the perfect thing for adding a bit of character to a capsule wardrobe thanks to its unique fuzzy texture and the fact it’s often decorated with playful patterns.
This is all particularly true where cardigans are concerned. A mohair cardi in a nice patterned finish can be used as a staple piece in your winter capsule wardrobe. It’ll give simple outfits a jazzy touch and help to anchor your entire look.
We’d recommend checking out Missoni, Needles and Beams Plus for some of the best versions.
Chances are you’ve probably already got a nice overshirt in your capsule wardrobe. Unfortunately, it’s also probably unlined, lightweight and not particularly warm. Going for something slightly heavier, perhaps in wool, flannel or even insulated cotton-canvas, will keep you warmer and work much more effectively for cold-weather layering.
Wax London makes some excellent heavyweight overshirts in textured fabrics with bold checked patterns. They’re perfect for the winter, but they’re also versatile enough to wear in the spring and autumn too.
Alternatively, you could go for something more workwear leaning, like a quilted work shirt from the likes of Carhartt, Dickies or Stan Ray.
Fleece is super cosy and a great insulator. Even better if it’s thick, fluffy and as soft as possible. This stuff is amazing at trapping heat and great either for layering or as wearing as an outer layer in cold, dry weather.
Patagonia is king when it comes to the fleece jacket. Your first port of call should be the Californian outdoor brand’s Retro-X fleece, which has existed under various names since the 1970s. It’s still making them today, and vintage versions go for silly money.
Otherwise, try streetwear brands like Axel Arigato and Stussy, or workwear specialists like Carhartt and Dickies.
Don’t underestimate the power of the sock. This seemingly small detail can make or break an outfit, so it’s worth getting right.
A nice chunky sock made from a speckled yarn or with an interesting pattern is great for adding a little pop of colour to winter outfits. We like the ones from RoToTo and Anonymous-ism in particular.
Lugged Leather Boots
Winter weather can take a serious toll on your footwear, especially if it’s not up to par. For this reason, a pair of tough-as-nails winter boots is a footwear must-have for us. Get a pair with grippy lugged soles and a nice oily leather and they’ll carry you confidently through countless winters.
The best thing is that they’re extremely versatile too, so you can wear them with basically anything short of formal tailoring.
There are a few different ways you could go here. You could go classic with a moc-toe work boot like those from Red Wing, channel your inner punk with some Dr. Martens, or go for more of an outdoorsy look with a pair of traditional hikers. Where the latter is concerned, we’d recommend Danner or Diemme.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy the luxury of cashmere with every outfit. All you really need to do is buy a scarf.
For £50 and up, you can wear cashmere with every winter outfit you wear. Just go for a nice simple colour and it’ll match whatever you choose to throw on.
Forget about flimsy nylon sweatpants and wafer-thin hoodies. When winter hits, you want something far more substantial; something with some weight to it. The only answer, in our humble opinion, is to invest in some heavyweight fleece-backed cotton versions. You know the type: classic jersey sweats that are soft and cosy on the inside, warm and give your biceps a workout by pulling them out of the bedroom drawer.
There are lots of brands making sweats like these, but for us, Camber is head and shoulders above the competition. The American brand specialises in high-quality blanks, like tees, long sleeves, hoodies and joggers, and while they are admittedly pricey, they’re also some of the best money can buy.