Looking to update your wardrobe for cooler weather? Take a look at Talbots. They are perfect for mature women who want to look stylish.
But stop endlessly browsing and use this plan to get organized. It’s based on Talbots website but can be used for any online retailer you love.
If you follow this step by step planning tool you’ll spend less, wear everything you buy and love opening your closet every morning!
And, most importantly, you will actually make a decision.
I’ll build my own Fall Capsule Wardrobe with the system as an example. Remember your style, your coloring and your budget will be different.
So here’s your step by step plan to creating a beautiful and flattering wardrobe of all the clothes you’ll need for the transition into Fall.
As I don’t live in N America I didn’t actually purchase the items I’m putting together as an example of a Fall wardrobe. Instead I purchased similar items from marksandspencer.com which is the UK/European equivalent of Talbots. You can see me trying on my actual Fall Wardrobe 2021 here by the way.
How to create your Capsule Wardrobe at Talbots
Here are the steps you should take. They are based on my Capsule Wardrope recipe. Do these things in this order. You will end up with a small wardrobe of coordinated clothes that will last you three months.
- Decide on your personal style
- Select your color palette
- Choose 3 bottoms
- Choose 9 tops
- Choose shoes
- Choose accessories
- Thin out your favorites
- Stick to your budget
Step 1. Set your personal style
Unless you know the look you are going for, you’ll end up with a mix of different individual items that never really go together to give you the look you want. So always start wardrobe planning by reminding yourself of your own personal style. (This might be different for work and weekends.)
I divide style into four categories:
- Casual classic – smart but easy to wear, that’s most of us who are retired
- Stylish classic – elegant, perhaps professional work wear or your daily wardrobe if you’re often in town or at smart functions
- Casual unique – comfortable but making a stronger statement about who you are, for example Boho style, Artsy style, Minimalism etc
- Stylish unique – striking, carefully curated looks such as designer outfits, Parisian chic etc.
If you’re not sure what your personal style is, then take the Style Quiz. You’ll find a button that takes you there on every page of this site.
The wardrobe I create here is for classic casuals like myself. That’s because there are more of us after 50 and because Talbots excels in this style.
How to upstyle my casual wardrobe
Want to look less casual and more stylish?
- Swap the jackets for more tailored ones.
- Remove the relaxed chinos and add some fashionable wide-leg pants instead.
- Swap out the sweater and add jewelry.
- Consider opting for a heeled shoe or a pretty backless mule – Talbots have some beautiful styles this year.
Step 2. Create a color palette
You need to choose a base color, a secondary color and a special color in order for your wardrobe to coordinate but not look boring.
The base color will form the background to your look – there will be more of it than any other color.
The secondary color must combine well with the base color. It could tone for a classic look or clash (like the yellow and pink Talbots shows for this Fall) for a more unique look. Either look can be casual or stylish.
The special color is optional, especially if you want a more reserved classic outfit. But for the rest of us we use the special color as a highlight. It’s a splash of something that adds energy and personality to our wardrobe but doesn’t overwhelm it.
How to choose the colors for a seasonal wardrobe
To choose colors go to Talbot’s Lookbooks. Here you will see the current color palettes. (You’ll find the current looks under Life and Style in the top menu.)
Lookbooks should always be the first page you look at. Why?
- Get inspiration
- Know what is fashionable this season
- See what colors coordinate well
- Don’t waste time searching for colors that are low in stock (e.g.from past collections)
Talbots is really good at this aspect of helping you develop a coordinated look so use their expertise.
They have colors that will work for olive and darker skins and other colors that will look great against paler complexions. If you’re not sure which is which then take note of the model’s skin tone. But remember a young smooth-skinned blonde with the right lighting can look stunning in any color!
What are Talbots color palettes for Fall 2021?
- Talbots’ first palette is a fun golden yellow alongside a sweet pink.
If you have dark skin you will look GLORIOUS in these colors. Or if you have an olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes both of these colors will make you look alive and fun. The same goes for women with healthy tans that last through the autumn.
I LOVE these colors, especially combined. But could I wear them – absolutely NOT!! I have typical Scottish coloring – pale, some freckles, green-blue-gray eyes, brown hair with blond highlights. These colors would drain my complexion making me look tired and gray.
If these colors are right for you then combine them for a stylish unique look or use just one of them as a secondary or special color for a more classic look.
- Talbots minimalist palette is all shades of gray.
As we age gray becomes more difficult to wear. But it works well if you have a minimal style of tones on tones which is a good look for a professional woman at work. Gray could be useful as a secondary color too, but keep it away from your face if you have an aging or pale complexion.
- Talbots third palette is all shades of blue.
This is a typical classic color palette and will work for all skin colors. It is what I have chosen for this casual classic wardrobe. However, if you just stick to this one palette you’ll look boring.
Add another color
Just shades of blue is too minimal for my personality so I need a special color to add zip. Neither the yellow not the pink are really right for my skin tone so I’ve had a quick scroll through New Arrivals looking for a good third color. And I’ve found a strong burnt orange I like. It’s called Zinnia.
My chosen color palette is:
Base color – Indigo
Secondary color – mid blue including mid wash denim
Special color – Orange Zinnia
Step 3. Choose three bottoms
These can be pants, a dress or a skirt.
The right way to search for clothes on Talbots website
Here’s how to search without wasting time, money or getting side-tracked by the wrong items. You will use this method for searching for tops, shoes and accessories too.
You can use the same process on any fashion retailer’s site but the menu items might have different names.
1. Go to New Arrivals. These will include the new season’s colors you might have chosen via the lookbooks. And most of these items will still be in stock in all the sizes.
2. Set the filters so you don’t get led astray!
- Choose the item category in the lefthand menu. So for this step you will choose Pants, Jeans, Skirts then Dresses. You will need to take each of these categories of clothing in turn and follow the next steps for each category.
- Set your size in the menu above. So I set myself as Petite then selected my size.
- Set your colors in the same menu. These are your two or three capsule colors. Don’t look at anything else. So I set my colors as blue and orange.
Now you have a manageable set of items to browse.
From 503 items in New Arrivals I was shown 25 Pants, 32 Jeans, 2 Skirts and 3 Dresses. All are in my size and my capsule colors.
3. Shortlist those styles that suit your body shape.
I cover body shape extensively in The Mature Style Course so I won’t go into details here.
For myself I am looking for ankle length pants or jeans, or full length which can be rolled up. I’m looking for a straight or slightly narrow width but not slim or skinny. I don’t want curvy as I have a wide waist and a fitted waist makes my hips look big too.
In skirts I’m looking for just below knee length but not mid-calf (these drown me).
In dresses I’m looking for three-quarter sleeves as my upper arms don’t look too good.
So this narrows down my possibles to:
10 pants, 10 jeans, 1 skirt, 2 dresses.
4. Keep items you really like.
There are two ways to do this. Don’t bother with notes. The first way (that I use) is to add all items I really like from the filtered lists straight into the bag. Later I will remove unwanted items.
The second way is to add your shortlisted items to the Wish List. To do this you need to sign up for an account which means accepting emails. This way works well if you want to share your shortlist with a friend or daughter. Or if you want to keep it for the future so you don’t need to apply all your filters again.
I didn’t much like the dresses or the skirt so I didn’t save those. But I saved a few of the pants and jeans.
5. Click into Sale items. Use the filters again.
This is the space where most people spend hours browsing. Who doesn’t love a bargain? And retailers know that a discount will probably encourage you to buy more in the end!
But now you’ve got your eye in. You’ve seen the lovely new season’s items. You know your colors and styles. Only now will you cast a really discerning eye over the items on sale and quickly dismiss things that fail to make your heart beat faster!
From the 1376 items in the Talbot’s sale my filters narrowed my search down to 6 pants and 2 jeans from which I chose 2 pants and 2 jeans to save to my shortlist.
6. Your final search is via the Clothing button on the top menu. These are clothes that are not outdated enough to go into the sales but are not new-in either. It’s a good place to find classic basics and also last season’s colors. Again, set your filters to keep you on track.
For pants I felt I had enough ideal choices already so didn’t use this third search.
Step 4. Select 9 tops
You’ll follow the same steps, in the same order as above, when you look for tops.
But by now you’ve probably got a pretty good idea of which bottoms you’ll end up buying. This will help you cut down on all the possible tops you might love.
Search by color and pattern
If you’ve chosen any patterned bottoms you’ll need to choose all, or mainly, solid color tops. Or decide straightaway to get rid of the patterned bottoms leaving yourself free to choose among the many patterned tops on offer.
Search by style
If you know you will buy some smarter pants such as drapey wide leg pants, you’ll want to have at least one or two more stylish tops to make a couple of less casual outfits. In addition make sure all the casual tees and popovers you shortlist look right with your wider cut pants too.
Search by category
Tops fall into the categories of Blouses and Shirts, Tees and Knits, Sweaters and Jackets.
In general I choose one or two jackets, one or two sweaters, then six to eight tops and shirts of various styles for a Spring or Fall wardrobe. That’s because layers give you the flexibity to dress for warmer or cooler weather during these changeable seasons. So remember not to make all your choices tee shirts.
As jackets are the smallest category and a jacket needs to be able to look good with all your bottoms and most of your tops, this is the place to start.
I noticed Zinnia was not in the Sales so I just looked in New Arrivals for orange. I found one orange jacket, three orange sweaters and 2 orange tees. But no orange shirts.
So I went into Clothing on the top menu and found two really good shirts in Zinnia that must have come out in summer.
The rest of my tops were blue.
Step 5. Choose shoes
Use the same process as for bottoms and tops.
Make sure you only add shoes that work for your lifestyle. You may love those heels but if you’re retired how often would you wear them?
A capsule wardrobe needs to see you through about 3 months. Think carefully about what you’re likely to be doing those months. And decide on shoes that will be wearable for various occasions.
I found two pairs of shoes in blue and one pair in orange that I loved and I knew I would wear often. So I added those to my shortlist.
Step 6. Choose accessories
Don’t be tempted to skip this step. Accessories are immensely useful. They can add a splash of interest to a classic outfit by introducing your special color. And they can tie a mix of your three colors together to give a harmonious outfit.
In Fall I always wear at least one scarf. And I found one with Zinnia in it. A colorful scarf makes any outfit just that bit more polished. So you can take one in (or on) your bag and knot it around your neck if the weather gets cooler or if you’re meeting friends later and want to look smarter.
I love bags so I usually treat myself to a new bag every season. I was spoilt for choice at Talbots so I shortlisted two bags, one in blue and one in orange.
They are both cross-body bags because I find these leave me hands-free which I like to be. They are good for walking around town, going to stand-up events and parties, and they give a youthful look to an outfit.
Step 7. Thinning out your favorites
I see I now have bags in blue and orange and shoes in blue and orange.
Just keep a splash of the special color
Unless you are going for a vintage sixties look it’s not a great idea to have a matching bag and shoes these days.
So I decided to get rid of the orange shoes (oooh but I love them!!!) and the blue bag.
I can also see that I have found enough items in orange to add the splashes of my special color I want. So, as I know I will be able to use blue jeans and blue pants in future years, I decided to remove orange pants.
My bag is orange so I decide not to choose an orange jacket or cardigan as I want the bag to stand out as a splash of color.
And I get rid of the orange sweaters as I can see the other tops and accessories offer quite enough of my special color . I don’t want to drown in orange – or grow bored with it.
Just keep really useful items
I take another look at my bottoms list. This is a casual wardrobe so I decide to keep one pair of jeans. I choose a medium wash which will look good against both mid blue and indigo. I know a higher waist and a relaxed Mom fit will work well if I tuck in any of those tops. I get rid of the other jeans.
I like the wide pants but frankly I won’t get many opportunities to wear them so I narrow my bottoms down (pun intended) to two styles I know will work hard for me: chinos (super casual) and straight ankle pants (dress up or down).
So now I have mid-blue jeans, dark blue relaxed chinos and dark blue Chatham ankle pants.
Keep items that can make various looks
I want to add some pattern to my outfits to add interest. I don’t have any patterned layers on my shortlist apart from a twinset in floral.
Twinsets are great value. Use the shell under straight-cut jackets and cardigans to highlight that tall narrow area from waist to neck. Wear the cardigan on its own or over a simple dark tee. Wear them together and add pearls for a vintage ‘good girl’ look!
So I keep the twinset.
I keep two orange tops – one a striped tee and the other a beautiful tiger-patterned shirt. These will add splashes of color, pattern and can be worn tucked in to the jeans and chinos or left to hang over the neater Chatham pants.
Keep items that work for your figure and lifestyle
I look again at my layers.
I keep the sleeveless quilted jacket in mid blue as it adds a sporty vibe.
I keep the dark blue long straight-fronted open notch collar blazer because it is very slimming and adds warmth. When I add the little scarf I can make it look more dressy.
I keep the mid-blue shaker stitch sweater for casual outdoor days.
Allow yourself one or two fun items
Now I have two choices left to make up my 9 tops.
I go for the dark blue bateau neck tee which looks elegant with its mid-blue bow. I can style this up or down depending on the pants I wear.
And finally I keep the denim shirt with the ruffled collar. It’s in fashion right now and adds a touch of femininity to the wardrobe.
Your clothing budget
This article is to help you shop efficiently and build a capsule of clothes for Fall. I am not suggesting that you should buy everything new or that you should always shop at one store. This is just an example!
You will surely have many clothes that can form the skeleton of a capsule and then you will add some new seasonal colors perhaps to bring it right up to date and make it more fun to wear.
I think the only time you should consider buying a completely new capsule wardrobe is if you have changed size or shape since the previous year. This can happen through weight gain, weight loss or illness/surgery.
How much to spend on new clothes
Before you decide exactly what you will purchase you must be realistic about your budget.
Unless you have special reasons to spend a lot on how you look – your job, your social life etc – you could aim to spend 5% of your annual income on clothes. So that 1.25% of your annual income per season.
If this budget seems reasonable to you write it down. Now take a look at your saved list. Perhaps those items you found via the Sales pages are looking better and better now!
Or perhaps you just need a few extra items for your new season’s wardrobe and you want to buy those attractive clothes from the New Arrivals pages.
I’ve chosen a mix of Sales and other items. At the time of writing – at the very end of August – Talbots is offering great discounts on all their clothes.
If you like any of these clothes just click through on the images. They are just examples and may be out of stock by the time you come to read this article. But Talbots will have similar up-dated items to choose from.
And now you have a system for building a wardrobe you’ll know exactly how to put them together.
My Talbots Fall 2021 capsule wardrobe
Here’s what I decided on.
If you found this step by step wardrobe plan useful you’ll enjoy The Mature Style Course. It’s a video-based program for women over 50 who have too many clothes but nothing to wear. Sort your closet into beautiful seasonal wardrobes that work for your figure and personality.