13 Winter Capsule Wardrobe Pieces To Simplify Your Closet This Season


I often joke with my friends that my style identity is Switzerland: comfortably luxe, always cozy, and full of neutrals. I can never have too many thick-knit turtlenecks, wide-leg trousers, boxy blazers, or snakeskin boots — and, as my live-in boyfriend will tell you, I collect them all as quickly as they can materialize online. My closet's already bursting at the seams, and with the bulk that comes with warm, chunky sweaters and hefty outerwear, it’s getting to be, well, a bit too cumbersome these days. So this season, I’m embracing the idea of a winter capsule wardrobe, and I’m doing it the 2018 way.

Here's what that means: Instead of finding a bunch of so-basic-that-they’re-boring separates to pair with each other all winter long, I’ve taken a page out of former Céline designer Phoebe Philo’s book: It’s her ethos — that everything you buy should, in theory, look good together but also stand on its own — that’s most influential to my shopping style, especially in the winter. (Her other sartorial ideologies — that your clothes should be at once sharp but also secondary, and that you can make do with a dozen pieces in a single season — are nothing if not enviable.)

Philo also notably said in 2012 that any woman's fall wardrobe would be complete with a "white shirt, a pair of black trousers, a skirt, maybe three coats. Two jackets, a high heel, a flat shoe, and a trainer. A bag. Maybe only one bag. And maybe a scarf."

Though I don’t think I’ll be able to get my cold-weather essentials count down below the teens, I’m reinterpreting The Book of Philo for my own closet — and hoping to get ready in the morning that much faster because of it. I've swapped out the white shirt for a sweaters of varying heft, and updated the black trousers to include a loose leather variety. I also ditched the scarf in favor of a second pair of boots — and I have no regrets.

Here’s (almost) everything on my winter shopping list for the cold months ahead.

Cozy Base Layer

Every single transitional weather outfit needs a good base layer. This cashmere blend tee from Frances de Lourdes is mine: It’s super-thin — as in, you can see through it when you hold it up — but it’s made from lightweight cashmere and silk (and feels like a cozier, more stylish second skin).

Throw-And-Go Turtleneck

This burgundy color of this ribbed turtleneck might as well be a neutral. Wear it with high-waist jeans and boots now, or as a more substantial base-layer later on.

Chunky Sweater

No matter your preferred color palette, a chunky sweater — preferably one that hits at the hips for optimal half-tuck potential — is a winter essential. This alpaca wool style from Swedish label Rodebjer is practically begs to be paired with a hot chocolate.

Oversized Robe Coat

I’ve truly never met a Lauren Manoogian piece I didn’t love, and this oversized coat is no exception.

Double-Duty Jacket

Conventional wisdom says you can only wear one coat at a time, but I buck conventional wisdom when the weather gets down into the single digits. That hasn’t happened just get in NYC, but when it does, I’ll be nothing if not hyper-prepared. This leather one will layer quite nicely underneath the oversized coat above. Plus, it doubles as a dress — just be sure it's securely belted

Everyday Denim

I balk at the idea of packing away my white clothes after Labor Day, and this rigid pair of off-white jean from & Other Stories is a great substitute for traditional denim.

Comfy Leggings

These seem like the obvious cold-weather progression of bike shorts, which I wore no fewer than two dozen times this summer. While I personally can’t look at a skinny jean with heart-eyes, I'd happily happily wear these stirrup leggings both by themselves as a pants-substitute, or layered underneath a midi skirt.

Wide-Leg Trousers

Oh, and for days when I need to layer a second pair of pants over my pants — if you commute to work by foot or by subway, you know what I mean — this Nili Lotan pair is my hands-down pick. They look great when belted and paired with an oversized, boxy sweater.

Trend-Forward Skirt

Even if you're not big on the animal-print trend, this embossed skirt is a fun, easy way to try it out. And Zara just about nailed the styling: I'd pair this with even taller boots and an oversized knit.

Tall Boots

I've already worn these tall, slouchy boots with blazer-dresses and midi skirts in recent weeks; I'll keep them in rotation to pair with jeans or structured wide-leg culottes when the weather really cools down.

Everyday Belt Bag

Sure, it seems downright irresponsible to include a mini bag — and a belted one, at that — in my winter capsule wardrobe. But double-bagging is one of my favorite unsung trends of 2018.

Winter White Bag

I’d layer on this bag from Trademark — which is special enough that I wouldn’t look to wear it every day, but low-key enough to moonlight as a secondary bag — with Vere Verto’s triple belt-bag when I’m lugging more stuff.

Lug-Sole Snow Boots

Everyone north of the Mason Dixon needs a good pair of lug-sole snow boots, and I've had my eye on this pair from Proenza Schouler for months. When I get sick of the yellow laces, I can swap them out and make 'em feel like a totally new pair.