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From 3 degrees to (almost) 30; the challenges of an autumn capsule wardrobe

I tend to rotate my wardrobe through the seasons, so I am always hyper aware of the challenges of transition season (spring and autumn) wardrobes. Summer and winter can be variable, of course, but not in the same was as the wildly fluctuating spring and autumn weather, which can offer everything from almost high-summer temperatures down to freezing blizzards and rainstorms.

Whether you follow my own wardrobe rotation obsessions, or simply like to be prepared for all weather at all times, the chances are that the problems of an appropriate transition season wardrobe haven't passed you by. So how does one achieve the holy grail of a perfectly curated capsule wardrobe for autumn that also allows for any of the crazy weather that this season might provide?

  1. If you live in Britain, coats go from completely unthinkable at some Indian summer-esque point in September to absolutely can't-live-without by about mid-October. Make sure you have more than one if you possibly can. It's the item that gets seen the most so wearing the same one day in day out will make your wardrobe feel tired very quickly.
  2. If you are likely to actually have to go outside at any stage and you live in the UK, you need to get your hands on either a truly waterproof coat (preferably one with some style credentials too. I like Protected Species for a stylish version, or Patagonia or Didriksons for slightly more rugged options) or a fabulous umbrella. If you're going coat, remember a hood. You need a hood if you aren't an umbrella carrier.
  3. As well as a waterproof, I swear by one short jacket (my personal preference is for a leather biker, but anything in the biker/bomber/peacoat line can work well) and a longer warm option (you might prefer a tailored wool coat, a more relaxed loose cut, or a more athleisure inspired down-filled coat, which has the added advantage that it can be layered under a waterproof if the weather gets truly arctic).
  4. Layers are your friends. Kettlewell's silky range is excellent for layering under other garments on cooler days, but the tops are all sufficiently opaque to wear alone when those Indian summer days hit.

5. I like to head for the darker end of my palette when the autumn weather hits, especially after a summer of enjoying the lightest brightest colours but I always think that for winters black can look a bit harsh in amongst the gorgeous rich tones of autumn, so I've styled this capsule with charcoal as the main dark neutral. Springs can go for their navy or dark brown, Autumns have dark brown, navy and (my personal favourite) dark olive, while Summers can use dark blue grey, burgundy, aubergine and navy.

6. As with coats, shoes are where a capsule wardrobe can sink or swim. Think about your day to day activities, and any special occasions that you have coming up over the next few months, and ensure that your capsule wardrobe contains appropriate footwear.

7. I like to include the odd dress or statement print top or skirt, even though it has more limited mix and match potential than a plain colour - prints and bold colours are where you can really demonstrate your personal style and put your own unique stamp on your colour palette. I think garments like the botanical Arabella and the retro Italian knitwear inspired zig zag top and skirt (particularly useful as they can be worn together or separately) really lift a capsule wardrobe out of terminal sensible-ness.


8. When it comes to denim, slim leg jeans that can be worn with ankle boots when it's chilly or rolled up with sneakers on warmer days are the most versatile option, but a/w '16 appears to be the season of Every Denim Cut Known To Mankind, so go wild and try out some other options if you're feeling adventurous.

Alex Smith on Jan 11, 2018 9:51 AM

I like the fresh design ideas that you have put up out here… but how much can you do with the simple & humble women tank? I have seen some of the best women's accessories/women's tanks I've seen at I'll be buying all the colors when I have some extra cash.

Jo @ Kettlewell Colours on Oct 22, 2016 12:37 PM

Hi GD, we're actually going to be introducing a feature in the next couple of weeks that will allow us to do an individual post for all four seasons each time we are discussing colours/capsule wardrobes, so we won't ever be leaving one out again!

GD on Oct 11, 2016 9:20 AM

hi there would be great to see an autumn winter capsule wardrobe for all the seasons.. I am a spring and would find this so helpful... I have looked at the polyvore pages but cant find what I am looking for there either.. Thanks

Pat on Oct 04, 2016 9:31 AM

I agree with Margo - can we see an Autumn capsule as well.

Margo on Sep 28, 2016 3:17 PM

These ideas are really helpful but I wish you could put the capsule together for Autumns as well. It would be great to see all the pieces in action