If your follow my seasonal try-ons you’ll know what to expect.
A capsule wardrobe is based on a small selection of clothes that go together well and can create many good-looking outfits.
I show you exactly what I will be wearing for the next three months from the middle of November 2021 to the middle or end of February 2022.
You’ll also know that I’m 72, only 62 inches tall and 20% or so overweight. So if you’re new here you might be a bit surprised at these pictures because we’re all used to images that have been manipulated to make already young slim women look even better.
But this blog is all about authenticity. I believe older women need to be seen in the media more. We may no longer have the slim figure of half a century ago, but that’s no reason not to try to look our best every single day.
A note on the photos – I found taking these photos a bit trickier than usual. I’m taking them in a small space and I see that the angle isn’t great as my head looks too large. I hope you’ll bear with me. The whole blogging thing is fun but quite a steep learning curve hahaha.
Scroll down to near the end of this article if you want links to retailers of the clothes in these photos.
Working with a restricted set of clothes
I follow my 10 step recipe for constructing a seasonal capsule wardrobe. You can find the recipe here – it is based on the very first wardrobe I photographed and put on this blog. That was back in Spring 2020.
This season is a little different because I am in England. I arrived in the summer with my summer and fall wardrobes in my suitcases. I had expected to leave at the end of November. But I’ve decided to stay until at least the end of January 2022.
I found myself with two options. Buy a complete new wardrobe for the winter. Or use whatever I can carry over from my Fall wardrobe supplemented by some new purchases from British high street retailers to create a small more compact seasonal capsule.
I chose the latter.
A wardrobe for cold weather
Obviously a seasonal wardrobe is first and foremost about having the right clothes for the weather. So these clothes may not be your idea of winter wear. They are just here for inspiration. You will be wearing a capsule wardrobe that is adapted to the climate where you live.
A British winter is very different from the winter I usually spend on the French Riviera. If you look back you can see that last year I included two jackets, one with no sleeves. And in fact I wore those jackets almost every day as my wool coat was usually too warm.
But this year it’s already getting too cold to go out without a coat so you’ll find no jackets in this winter wardrobe.
You’ll see that I’ve centred my wardrobe on layers of shirts with woollens of varying weights. That helps transition from a cold damp day outside to the warmth of central heating indoors. Very different from living with my French doors open onto the balcony until sundown most days.
Color choices for my winter 2021
Last year I had a bold combination of black, gray and red to cheer me up over winter.
But this year I wanted a wardrobe that was much softer – both in terms of textiles but also in terms of colors.
So you’ll see that I’ve gone for a tone-on-tone more minimal look than usual.
Bluish-green. I’m very fond of all the tones that this hue comes in. I think because it goes with my eye color.
This year I’d chosen one or two items in this color for my Fall wardrobe so I knew it would be a good idea to continue this color through the winter so I didn’t end up buying everything new.
To make it a base color I have looked for softer grayed-out tones for blues and greens. For example the olive green of my Fall wardrobe is too yellow-tinged and definite to act as my gentle base color this season.
With a tonal minimalist wardrobe the second color is another neutral. I’ve chosen cream as I’ve got a cream silk shirt from my Fall wardrobe with me and the freshness of cream seems to go with my mood right now. White is always a statement whereas cream is more of a murmur.
So this is me in more reflective, gentle mode!
I wanted a wardrobe that felt ‘organic’ rather than zesty.
I think the climate talks and terrible weather catastrophes have added to my subdued mood.
A special color
My capsule wardrobe recipe suggests using a splash of a third color to add highlights to the basic wardrobe.
But a minimalist tonal wardrobe doesn’t usually include a highlight color. As my wardrobe is about finding a soothing, understated color palette I’ve not bothered to add another color.
However, certain items are included that do add a bit of definition. I’m wearing black or tan footwear and a tan bag. so perhaps I should say tan is my special color this season.
Textures and textiles
To go with my relaxed and gentler color palette I made the decision to buy organic, natural fabrics.
I felt the need for pure cotton next to my skin. And I want to build up a stock of useful clothes that are made of wool, cashmere and silk.
I want to feel cossetted. But I also want to love these items for years.
Dressing for my lifestyle
When I’m in France, which until this year has been my home most of the year, I dress casually and add a few items that can be reworked to make a smarter look for meals out, concerts and visits to local towns.
I’m going to be staying in the Welsh coutryside for much of the winter – apart from a week or so spending the holidays with various members of my family.
So most of my winter capsule needs to be comfortable, winter-warm and with a country feel.
Even the inevitable meals out with family will likely be after a walk with the dogs and ending up at a country gastro-pub with a roaring fire.
So I don’t need to plan for urban this season.
Remember this try-on is just showing what I wear and how I decide on what to buy. Your lifestyle will be very different. So if these outfits look all wrong to you it’s probably because we lead different lives.
But I do believe that understanding the rules of putting a few seasonal clothes together works for everyone whether they live in uptown New York or the wilds of the Welsh borderlands.
Now I’ve explained how I’ve chosen clothes, and the real-life constraints, it’s time to give you my Winter Capsule 2021-2 Wardrobe list.
Choose three bottoms
I am re-using the jeans I packed for the Fall. They’re super easy to wear and in fashion. They’re wider Mom jeans so they’re high rise and they hang straight down, boyfriend style.
I usually wear these rolled to above my ankle but when I’m wearing boots I’ll unroll them so they don’t leave an odd gap.
You can see these jeans here in my 2021 jeans try-on.
Looking for pants, I wanted at least one pair of slinky wide pants that would add a smarter vibe to my casual look. I did actually buy some (here’s the link to the M&S UK site if you’re interested to take a look. And here’s the US site). But this year as the eighties/nineties look continues I’m seeing much longer pants that last year. Even though I buy petit these trousers puddled round my shoes.
That’s fine for an at-home evening. But no use to me on the go.
If I’d been at home I’d have shortened these pants but I don’t have my sewing items or machine here.
So I’ve chosen two narrow ankle-grazer pants. They’d look better if they were an inch or so shorter but they look OK to the ankle too.
My first pair is in cream faux leather from Zara.
Yes, these leather pants are bit clingy especially on the hips. I’d rather they were narrow but straightish. But as this is an authentic website I’m showing you exactly how they look! They are the best bottoms I found for this capsule and I’m banking on them looking good for Spring too.
For my second pair of pants I purchased some leggings from M&S in a gray check heavier-weight knit. They’re warm and neat and work with the grayed-out tones of the whole wardrobe.
I can wear leggings at home with bare feet or chunky socks. And I can wear them out with a big shirt or sweater.
If there’s another lockdown this winter I’ll be living in these!
Neither of these purchases is absolutely perfect I’m the first to admit. Some of that is due to this season’s fashion which is either eighties huge or last year’s athleisure look. Neither style brings out the best in me – or should I say covers up the least good bits adequately!
So these items had to be inexpensive – and they are.
Choose nine tops
I decided to wear more collared shirts than usual. They add structure and emphasise the shoulder line which works well if you have broad hips and thighs as I do.
But just as important I needed the collar to look good against my skin. That’s because some of my tops are rather pale and grayish and would drain my already pale complexion of all color. That little band of the shirt collar avoids that.
The M&S cream silk shirt I bought in 2019 and I wore during Fall. It’s one of my classic items and will get worn dozens or even hundreds of times over the next decade. It’s paler than my complexion so my skin looks healthy by contrast.
A new silk shirt from Jigsaw in a dull greenish-blue. I’m going to talk about Jigsaw later on in this article. Their colors are more subtle than cheaper stores which is often true of mid-market rather than fast-fashion retailers.
A new brown-striped full-sleeved shirt from Jigsaw that looks and feels like silk but is actually viscose. I restarted wearing brown last season so I know this shirt will work togther with any future wardrobe based on brown. I know already that I will be veering towards brown rather than black for the next few years. It’s back in fashion but also my skin has become a little too pale and lined to look good against the severity of black.
All these long shirts work well over tees to camouflage large hips and concentrate the focus on the narrower band of color that appears between the two edges of the shirt front.
Three tee shirts
I had a few white sleeveless vests and tank tops from my summer and fall wordrobes with me and I’m including one of these in this wardrobe. Silk, especially cream silk, usually needs a layer underneath to stop all one’s bulges being too obvious! And I like to wear cotton against my body when I pop on a sweater or cardi as the main top.
When I was in Zara, having already shopped for my main peices at Jigsaw, I found they had an ideal soft color palette for a range of tees. They are short sleeved but I love the welt around the sleeves – it’s loose enough not to pinch heavy arms but much neater than the usual hemmed sleeves that are definitely super casual. These tees also have that welt around a smart round neck that sits just below the collar bone to give a perfect definition to your face.
I bought a darker blue-green and a paler blue-green that will look great against all my other tops as well as looking neat and smart worn alone indoors.
I might go back for more too as they are very inexpensive.
Winter in the countryside must mean sweaters.
I was prepared to buy an outrageously expensive oversized cashmere sweater. But, I couldn’t find one. I’m quite sure they exist but in my three chosen retailers I simply couldn’t find quite the right look.
So I bought a boiled wool high neck sweater from Jigsaw which has the big square cut that is fashionable this year. This will look good half-tucked into jeans or worn over leggings.
Back at Zara I picked up a baggy cotton athleisure-style top in the same range as the tees. The cream color will look good against all my collared shirts. And it gives that still-popular staying-in vibe of athleisure we’ve been seeing since Covid.
I indulged in a soft cashmere V neck cardigan the color of the sea in winter. It has big country-style buttons down the front and I can wear it ‘as is’ with a necklace chain to look smarter, or over the top of any of my tees or silk shirts as a warming layer.
The wide waist is designed to stand away from the body. Perfect for someone like me who has a thick waist which just looks thicker in any fitted top.
I’ll also be wearing my classic cropped cashmere cardigan I bought from Boden last year or the year before. It’s a more stand-out tone of the the blue-green base of my wardrobe but goes well with every single item.
I haven’t photographed it as it has appeared in so many of my try-ons already.
That’s the great thing about buying a classic piece in a good quality material that you really like – it works effortlessly for years and years!
Just a note about Boden. It’s a favorite retailer of mine that sells worldwide. But the colors are bolder than most UK retailers such as Jigsaw. So Boden is perfect for summer and anytime you want to make an impact. But, in general, if you are looking for a more subtle vibe it’s not the first place to look.
I didn’t have any winter footwear with me so I decided to go for just two pairs. One lighter weight pair of shoes for indoors and smarter days. The other for everything from muddy winter walks through to snowy or wet days in town.
You may recall the Primark shoes in tan with small gold chain across the front that my daughter donated to me when she found they were too large for her. Well, I’ve really enjoyed wearing them over the last couple of months despite the fact they cost me nothing and probably cost my daughter very little either (Primark is a fashion retailer selling very inexpensive clothes fast.) So I’ve retained these as my light-weight shoes for winter. The tan goes with my bag and the gold chain echoes the simple chain jewelry I wear.
The fashion for big heavy footwear seems to be here to stay. I notice this year that all the good brands have it.
I’d intended to buy some brown or tan leather knee-high boots when I was over in the UK. But there was so very little choice. Ankle boots still rule. Then it’s a choice of neat boots wearable with skirts or pants or much heavier numbers best worn over thick socks. As I already have neat ankle boots – just not with me right now – I decided to go for the fashionable heavy boots. They’ll be good for clomping around in Wales and, if I’m feeling confident, I could even wear them to the pub!
I think the trend of wearing ‘the right’ wellies has destroyed the market for leather boots – at least here in the UK. By ‘the right’ wellies I mean those expensive rubber boots made by Hunter and Aigle originally for farmers, hunters and riders but now beloved of festival-goers and any stylish urbanite taking a country walk on a Sunday morning.
I do have my dark green Aigle boots with me – I’m rarely without them. They’re what I wear in the roughest of British weather.
I’m going to use my tan leather camera bag from my Fall wardrobe. I’ve found it really useful and I can’t justify buying another bag this season.
I’m also re-using my small brown silk scarf and my larger fine grey-green scarf too. They both work well with my season’s colors.
I’m sticking with my tan leather belt too as it makes my jeans look a bit smarter. And belts are definitely trending again right now.
For jewelry I’m going to use my Fall wardrobe gold-look chains and chunky hoop earrings. They add a tiny bit of sparkle to my simple clothes.
Retailers I’ve purchased from this season
Here’s what I bought. These are affiliate links so if you click through and buy I get a small commission at no charge to you. Thanks. It helps me pay for hosting and software I use for this blog.
As I’ve been in the UK I decided to make the most of one of my favorite stores who sadly no longer export to France (where I’ve been living for a few years) from their online shop.
At present they are not exporting to the USA either so this section is especially aimed at my readers in the UK.
Jigsaw has been around since the early seventies and is now a well-known high street brand with a full online presence.
The stores themselves are always light and airy and a real delight to wander through. Everything is so carefully displayed that, even if I exit without spending any money, I always feel buoyed up and inspired after a visit.
Once I’d decided my capsule would be more minimalist than usual Jigsaw was a good start as they use restrained color palettes in general. As I noted above, if you pay a little more you usually get more interesting dyes.
Jigsaw sits between fast fashion and designer fashion. It’s mid-priced but uses quality materials that will last for years.
That longevity is reflected in the classic-with-a twist styles they promote.
I also love that they have strict supply chain terms to avoid women being exploited.
Here’s what I bought. Zara doesn’t use affiliates so these are just links straight to their online stores.
I rarely buy from Zara as they cater for younger girls and women. But while I was in Oxford I decided to spend a couple of hours trying on lots of items to get an idea of fit. Then I’d be able to buy from Zara online knowing what to expect.
I was pleasantly surprised. They do their tee shirts is several different cuts from clingy to wide. They have several color palettes and I thought their paler grayed-out colors looked really good. Much better than the price tag would suggest.
However, I’ll be honest. I’d only buy inexpensive classic items like tees at Zara as most of the clothes are not aimed at older women.
Marks and Spencer
Here’s what I bought. These are affiliate links.
Grey check leggings UK site
Grey check leggings US site
Suedette borg-lined coat UK site
Suedette borg-lined coat US site
Brown leather biker boots UK site
Brown leather biker boots US site
Cream silk shirt UK site – purchased a couple of years ago but still available
Cream silk shirt US site
What I’m missing for my winter capsule
Well, I looked for a dress which I could wear with boots but also for the occasional get-together around Christmas and New Year. But I just couldn’t find one.
My main problem was that all the dresses I liked were ankle-length on me. There’s a style that’s been in fashion for years now which is a country look with boots under a floaty dress with usually a cashmere jumper or cardi on top. It’s not a classic look but it works really well for country house or inn get-togethers.
Why don’t retailers realize that even us petites would love to wear a mid-calf pleated or gathered frock but we can’t wear anything to our ankles without heels as we look drowned in fabric. And how many of us at 70+ still wear heels?
But I will be looking online over the next month to see if I can spot anything really beautiful that I would adore wearing.
Never shop without a plan
I mention this to show that it’s not always possible to get absolutely everything for your capsule at the very beginning of the season. But that shouldn’t push you to buy something not right. Just keep an eye out once you know exactly how the item will fit in with your wardrobe. Buying out of desperation is an expensive and guilt-inducing habit.
A special dress or outfit doesn’t need to work with the rest of your capsule. It can just be a stand-alone special item. It’s always good to try to include something that breaks the uniformity of your capsule and allows you to look very different a few times during the season. If you let your capsule get too well-organized you risk finding it boring before the season is finished.
I hope you’ll think about creating your own capsule wardrobe for the season ahead. It’s fun to do and stops you buying on impulse.
If you’d like a helping hand sorting out your wardrobe take a look at The Mature Style course. Click on the menu at the top (laptop) or beneath this article (phone).
It takes you step by step through the process and includes help on how to dress for your figure type, your coloring, your lifestyle and your budget.
Why not get a friend or daughter to treat you to the course as a gift? It’s something that will change how you shop and how you dress for years to come.