A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of co-ordinated clothes that takes you through one complete season. It is organized by color and needs to give you all the outfits you need for your lifestyle.
If you follow my try-ons you’ll know that I construct a capsule wardrobe every three months.
I’ve added links to clothes I’ve purchased. As most of my readers are based in the US all the links for M&S lead to the US site. For my UK and EU readers I’ve given the links to the UK site at the end of the page – just scroll down. Most links are affiliate links so if you click through and buy I’ll usually get a small commission at no cost to you. (A big thank-you! It helps me keep this site running.)
How much to spend on a capsule wardrobe
I use items I already have and fill any gaps with new items. By varying colors and the way I put clothes together I can avoid the boredom of always wearing the same favorite outfits.
Most people go shopping when they get bored with their clothes. But I try to make the most of my wardrobe and only spend out on a few things to update my style and replace classics that are becoming worn.
This season I am living in England again and I’ve been enjoying searching through the local charity shops for second-hand clothes to add to my capsule. So in addition to a few new items you’ll see a couple of charity bargains too.
I honestly do not think you have to spend lots of money to look your best every day.
A real woman try-on
If you feel a slight shock when you see these pictures it’s probably because you are used to only seeing women with model figures in style articles. But most of us well over 50 do not have perfect figures.
I believe we should see more real women, especially mature women, in fashion posts. I want to show you what clothes really look like on an average older woman. We don’t look like the model on the retailer’s site. But, while we may not be perfect, we can be stylish.
I’m 72, short (62”) and 25% overweight. I have all the usual age-related problems – crepey sagging upper arms, cellulite on my thighs, a roll of excess fat at my waist and thick ankles. So of course these pictures might come as a shock to some women. But they represent one woman’s efforts to look her best on a reasonable budget and at an average shape for her age.
I don’t retouch the images, by the way. I know I’d look a lot better if I just stretched the images a tiny bit. But I accept my limitations and I want to inspire other older women to feel the same confidence as I do. I may have a model’s figure but I love the way I look.
If you want to love the way you look then take a look at The Mature Style Course. It’s a video-led program that takes you step-by-step until your closet is organized to provide lots of outfits that express your personal style and work for your body type.
You’ll never have ‘nothing to wear’ ever again!
My capsule colors for Fall
This season I’ve decided to use brown as my base or neutral color. It’s a few years since I’ve worn much brown but I still have a few items to start my capsule wardrobe.
As my secondary color I’m using green – mainly a subdued olive green. These are colors I used to wear together in the sixties. But nostalgia is back in fashion so here goes! There’s also a touch of a blueish green which seems to work quite well with olive and my other main colors.
Finally to add a dash of zest I’m adding some mustard to the mix.
These three colors feature in my Brora fairisle cardigan I bought last year. So straightaway I have one item that will color co-ordinate with everything else.
Mustard adds interest Special color in small amounts
I find I can generally get through the season with three bottoms and one dress.
I usually live in France where I need clothes for a very casual country lifestyle in the autumn.
But this year I am spending several months in the UK. I’m living in more urban areas and am enjoying getting out again to meet friends and family for meals and sightseeing. This means I can afford to include a slightly smarter, dressier vibe now and again.
So I’ve selected two pairs of jeans. Because jeans can be dressed up or down these days.
Jeans x 2
One pair of jeans is the new wider cut that’s very comfortable to wear. I bought these last year. You can see me trying on different shapes of jeans in this post.
The other pair of jeans is more fitted and with a narrower straight leg. These give a different silhouette and look good with larger, baggier tops. I bought these several years ago.
Although the jeans are not in one of my capsule colors I feel blue denim hardly counts as a color statement these days as it is so ubiquitous. So I treat it like black and white – as a non-color that can be added to capsule colors without disrupting the color palette.
I purchased a pair of narrowish leg ankle-grazer pants as my third bottom item. They are in olive green – my secondary capsule color. The fit is different from the jeans.
There are no belt loops and the waistband sits very smooth at just below waist level. They feature very flat pockets that zip neatly closed on the hips. And at the ankle there are zips too. They fit well around the rear as they have quite a bit of stretch and can be styled as smart or casual pants. I’m really pleased with them.
I bought them from marksandspencer.com and they’re a good thickness of fabric for cooler days.
Wide jeans for retro silhouette Straight jeans for classic silhouette
My capsule tops
I’ve selected 9 tops.
For this autumn season when the weather changes quickly from sunny to cold it’s important for me to include lots of layers.
As I mentioned above my Brora fairisle cardi is central to this collection. But I’ll need another cardigan too, this time in one solid color so it can mix with every item in my capsule. So I’ve selected a short blue-green cashmere by Boden that I bought a couple of years ago. (The link shows a darker green example.)
Cardigans are important items for me because I have a thick waist and jeans like my fitted ones tend to push fat up so it sits as a roll at my waistline. A cardigan or jacket camouflages this by hiding the area above the hips and concentrating the eye on the narrow area between the edges of the cardigan which is a neat rectangle – very slimming.
I’ll need a warm sweater on many days, especially when relaxing at home. So I bought one in a darkish blue-green when a favorite independent retailer, Bibico in Bath, held their sale in the Spring. I already knew at that time that this color would feature in either my Fall or Winter capsules so I was able to profit from the discount.
I often wear sweaters as a layer by lapping the sleeves over my shoulders like a scarf as this emphaisizes the shoulder line and makes my hips look slimmer in comparison. It also camouflages my untoned upper arms.
But a large square-cut cardi with pockets works well for ultra-casual days too. I’ll probably wear it over leggings as the colder weather approaches. In fact it’s just exactly the big sweater I needed when I wrote my article on How to wear leggings over 50!
I’ve included two jackets/coats.
The three-quarter coat is new and the brown tweed jacket is from the charity shop so I feel on average I haven’t overspent this season.
I spent £5 (less than $7) on a slightly seventies-style broad-shouldered lined jacket. In fact I noticed Brora had a very similar jacket as ‘new in’ this season. Perhaps this jacket really is from the seventies or perhaps it’s more modern. I don’t really mind. It’s exactly what I need to pull together my color scheme and allow me to dress up for town with a scarf and neat bag or dress down with a sweater and jeans for walking the dog.
I like the slightly slouchy shoulder that is fashionable this year. The color is just right. I like the straight cut front that I can wear open to elongate my upper area. And I like that it is long enough to come right over my hips to the top of my legs. In other words it conceals my less-than-ideal areas.
The price allows me to search for another warmer jacket or half-coat too. One that will see me through Fall into Winter.
I immediately fell for this marksandspencer.com faux-sheepskin three-quarter coat. What we used to call a car coat back in the sixties and seventies. As I am currently in Cheshire near one of the larger M&S stores I decided to drive out to try it on. It’s oversized – I love that! But just how oversized do I want it? Looking at the reviews some women went one size smaller whilst others went up a size.
So I tried on a UK 12, 14 and 16. Actually I loved the over-the-top vintage look of the size 16 but decided to play safe and bought the 14 – my usual size. After all I want to love this country-style jacket for several years and if it’s too bulky it may look out of fashion in a couple of years when the seventies vibe has passed.
I can’t wait for colder weather so I can flaunt this fun coat.
Shirts, blouses and tunics
My cream silk shirt that I bought a year ago is an obvious complement to the brown base color. It can go over a tee as a sort of shacket or, better, can be tucked in or hang straight down with all my choices of pants.
The flat smooth waistband of the olive green ankle-grazers work perfectly for a top that hangs over. There are no lumps and bumps. Whereas the jeans look good with a shirt tucked in and a belt.
A silk shirt always adds a touch of class to even the most casual outfit. Take a look at my try-on of silk shirts in 2020 here.
Sweater over wide hips Silk shirt hides large waist
While I was in M&S I noticed their new jersey dresses. I realized that their greyish green/black animal print t shirt dress would work well over my new olive pants or over leggings. It’s mini but in regular length it’s ideal for me at 5’2″. It’s got stretchy long sleeves I can scrunch up. And it will look good under my large sweater with leggings when I’m writing my blog on the sofa.
To add in more chocolatey brown to my capsule I searched through my older clothes and found a jersey three-quarter sleeve tee with a cream bow at the neck. I bought this from L K Bennett – er – about 15 years ago! But it’s a classic and well-made from a good retailer so I never threw it away. And today it’s back, giving me another top for my Fall 2021 wardrobe.
I will say, however, that it’s a bit more fitted than I tend to wear these days – ah how one alters one’s shape over 15 years. But under the jacket it will look perfect. And half-tucked into jeans it looks good too.
Tee shirts and a sleeveless top
I buy stripey tee shirts in my local (French) supermarket whenever they come on sale as I know they will always be useful. So I’ve included a short-sleeved striped tee in mustard and white in this capsule which I bought about a year or two years ago. It’s perfect under the cardigans and the jacket. And, afterall, what would a Joni Farthing capsule be without a touch of breton?
I found a greeny-blue short-sleeved V neck tee that I must have bought in the sales at some point knowing this color would go with my 2019 cashmere cardigan. So I added it as it looks good under the jacket and under the cardis. I forgot to photograph it though!
Finally I will be wearing a real favorite of mine. I bought it in the Bibico linen sale this spring and have been dying to wear it. It combines the blue-green of the sweater with the olive of my new pants. It’s a very simple sleeveless square-cut round-neck top. It stands away from the waist which is ideal for me and my square shape. It looks cool and collected with jeans or can be popped over the green pants with the blue-green cardi to look smarter.
Wide jeans wide top Wide jeans wide jacket
Shoes for this capsule
As I’m travelling around the UK this Fall I didn’t want to include too many pairs of shoes in this capsule. The whole Fall wardrobe apart from the sheepskin coat has to fit into one smallish suitcase.
So I’ve included the animal print trainers I bought last year from Cache Cache France for last year’s Fall capsule. I wear trainers a lot, even with dresses, and they’ll go well with my new sheeepskin coat.
One of my charity shop hauls was a pair of tan loafers with a chunky chain across the front. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know I love chains, especially chunky ones!
Then my daughter gifted me a pair of inexpensive tan loafers from Primark that she’d bought this summer but found too large. They are a sort of lighter-weight version of the charity find.
These preppy style loafers are definitely trending again this year and I find them so comfortable to wear as they have wide toes – perfect for wide feet like mine.
So no outlay on new shoes this season.
Accessories to finish the look
I was all set to buy the M&S belt bag I had featured in my post on belt bags but in the end I fell in love with the Marksandspencer.com camera bag in tan. It’s just a little larger and perhaps more versatile as it can go over a jacket too. I love to be hands-free when I’m out shopping or looking round a town or its musems. And I know I’m going to love this bag for ever with its beautiful broad shoulder strap and soft real leather.
Jeans look good with a belt so I’ve added a simple leather belt I bought last winter and a much wider, softer suede belt I’ve had for at least 15 years. I usually just show the very front of a belt under a jacket. But the larger belt sits below the waist and camouflages the bulge I get with fitted jeans.
Warmer weather Colder weather
I’ve added in big scarves in greeny-blue and in mustard to wrap around my tops and echo my capsule colors. And I’ve also added a small brown silk scarf from last year’s fall wardrobe too. All these have been in my closet for at least 10 years. But I never throw away scarves. They don’t take up much space and they are an easy way to highlight a capsule’s color palette.
I’ve also added some chunky hoop earrings from M&S (not online) and a couple of my usual chains from previous years.
Because I like to wear my hair in a ponytail sometimes I’ve added a set of leather-look brown scrunchies too.
What will you be wearing this Fall?
I hope you find inspiration for your own Fall capsule wardrobe by looking at this collection. None of us are perfect, but that’s no reason not to try to look our very best every day. After all, those slim models have spent hours with the make-up artist and the photographer has ‘adjusted’ the photos to get that perfect look.
Remember that your lifestyle and your personal style will be different from mine. The weather in your part of the world may be very different too. My capsule works for me right now. If my life changed I guess my wardrobe would change too. So use what you have, add in a few new items, and make sure your own personality shines through every outfit.
A capsule is such fun to organize and makes getting dressed in the morning a real pleasure.
Links to the UK site of Marksandspencer.com: