My Fall Wardrobe Must Haves

Happy Monday, friends! Today I thought I’d share my wardrobe must haves for fall. When I do my Fall Wardrobe Essentials post, I list general wardrobe categories that can be tailored to a variety of lifestyles and body types, but these are specific items and styles that I’ve determined essential to my personal fall wardrobe.

My 11 Fall Wardrobe Must Haves for 2022 KUT from the Kloth Kara (M) // Sundry JeT’aime Tee (1) // Fidelity Cher (28) // Veja Esplar (39) // AllSaints belt (M) // YSL sunnies // LV Neverfull

I’ve been working over the last few years to curate a wardrobe I love, and part of that process has been letting go of items and styles that don’t serve me or make me happy. What’s left is a small collection of items and styles that I love and love to wear, and that’s what this list is about.

Once you determine what your fall wardrobe must haves are, it’s easier to shop for things that work for you and ignore the rest.

My Fall Wardrobe Must Haves

These are items or categories specific to my fall wardrobe. Not that I don’t wear them at other times of year, but I absolutely wouldn’t want to be without them in the fall.

#1. Washed Black Denim

Frame Le High Straight in Bosworth (sold out; similar) // option // option) // sweater and shoes are sold out

I wear jeans almost daily in the fall and winter, and I like to have a variety. While I wear blue jeans all year ’round, washed black denim is more specific to my fall/winter wardrobe, just like white denim is more specific to my spring/summer wardrobe.

That’s not to say I don’t wear black denim in the spring and summer, or white denim in the fall and winter, but I wouldn’t feel the need to run out and buy a new pair of white jeans right now if I found myself without any. On the other hand, I would be lost without any washed black jeans in my closet.

My favorites right now are the Frame Le High Straight in Bosworth (pictured above) and the Fidelity Cher in Nova Black. Unfortunately, both have been discontinued, but I linked some similar options above. I also just added the Frame Le High Rise Flare Jeans in Billups to my fall wardrobe.

Since I wear jeans daily, I’m willing to spend more on brands that fit and feel fabulous. That said, I usually wait for a good sale, and I do my best to highlight those sales here on the blog whenever I see them.

#2. Outfit Making Jackets

KUT from the Kloth Amanda Boxy Jacket (option // option) // Gap Factory waffle tee & jeans // Veja Esplar (39)

I think we can all agree that fall is the best season for layering, and I prefer jackets to blazers and cardigans because I like the structure a jacket provides, along with the casual vibe. Blazers always feel too corporate to me, even if I dress them down with jeans, and cardigans obscure my curves and usually make me feel schlumpy. I wear them occasionally, but I wouldn’t care if I didn’t have any in my closet.

Having several different jackets in my fall wardrobe makes getting dressed easy because they make a simple t-shirt and jeans look finished and give me more variety in my outfits. For that reason, I’ve started collecting more jackets in recent years.

These are not outerwear as much as they are “outfit completer pieces” that I wear instead of a blazer or cardigan. That isn’t to say that I never take them off when I go indoors, but I do consider them part of my outfit.

KUT from the Kloth and Marrakech do some of the best casual jackets, in my opinion, and I’ve found most of mine at Evereve. It’s my favorite retailer for finding current, wearable, stylish pieces at a moderate price point.

#3. Graphic Tees

Sundry JeT’aime Tee (1) (option // option) // Fidelity Cher (28) // Veja Esplar (39) // AllSaints belt (M)

There’s something about fall that always makes me want to add a few graphic t-shirts to my wardrobe. I think it’s because I love to wear lightweight jackets in the fall, and I get tired of putting them over the same solid white and grey tees.

I also wear graphic tees in spring and summer, but I never feel like I need them until fall rolls around. I like how they add a little extra interest and personality when peeking out from under a jacket or cardigan, but they can also stand alone when I want to remove my top layer.

All that to say, graphic tees have become one of my most-worn fall wardrobe items, and something I feel like I’m missing if I don’t have any in my closet.

#4. Fashion Sneakers

Veja Esplar (39) // option // option

I’ve come a long way from the girl who only ever wore sneakers to the gym. Nowadays they’re probably my most-worn shoe for everyday fall outfits, and I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

A few years ago, when Golden Goose sneakers were becoming so ubiquitous, I set out to find a sneaker that gave off the same cool-girl-next-door vibe but was a little more classic. You can read all about that project in this post, but I’ll go ahead and tell you that {spoiler alert!} I ended up with the Veja Esplar leather low sneakers.

Since then, I’ve also discovered the P448 John and more recently the rag & bone Retro Sneakers, but the ones I find myself reaching for most this fall are my Veja Esplar Logo Sneakers with the black accents.

I love the minimalistic styling and the clean lines, and they just seem to suit my personal style best at the moment. As always, this is subject to change without notice! It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, especially in matters of fashion.

#5. Casual Transitional Sweaters

Madewell Mayfair Cardigan (S; other favorites here and here) // Frame Le High Straight (29) // Jeffrey Campbell Velviteen Loafer (8.5)

I can’t talk about fall wardrobe must haves without talking about sweaters! I’m a huge fan of knitwear, and I like to have a variety of casual transitional sweaters in my fall wardrobe to top off my denim. By transitional sweater, I mean a lightweight pullover with an open neckline, and bonus points for interesting details like the button-up style pictured above.

I specify an open neckline because it looks more transitional and fall-appropriate than turtleneck and cowl neck styles. Plus, a lower neckline visually elongates my short neck and short upper body and helps downplay my larger chest, so it’s always my first choice for any top.

As an aside, I didn’t understand why I like sweaters and t-shirts so much until I was listening to a podcast about body types, and I learned that knits flatter an hourglass shape because they cling and highlight your curves, as opposed to wovens that glide over and obscure your curves. (And now I also know why I always struggle with blouses and feel like they make me look boxy! #lightbulbmoment)

In addition to the way sweaters flatter my body type and align with my personal style, I love them because they’re cozy and comfortable and easy to throw on and go. I’m all about comfortable and easy!

#6. Elevated Sweatshirts

Varley pullover (sold out; this year’s version) // similar style and here // crewneck option

As life has become more casual in recent years and I spend so much time working from home, I’ve discovered a new-to-me wardrobe category that I like to call elevated sweatshirts. As much as I love my sweaters, sometimes it’s nice to have another option that’s just as cozy but a little more sensible.

I’m thinking of a high quality piece that has some type of detail that sets it apart from your basic workout sweatshirt. A good example is this Rails henley style sweatshirt that I found at Evereve a couple of years ago. It’s my favorite and the one I reach for most often.

My favorites are no longer available, but I linked up a few options above. Honestly, I’m not finding a whole lot out there right now. I hope to see more options coming to my favorite retailers very soon!

#7. Cheetah Print Tee

ATM Schoolboy Cheetah Print Slub Cotton Tee (M) // KUT from the Kloth Coated Kara (S) // Frame Le High Straight (28) // Dolce Vita Rachey Chain Flats (7.5)

Speaking of favorites that are sold out, I want to include this specific piece in my fall wardrobe must haves because I feel like it pretty much defines my personal style, and I wear it mostly in the fall. This is the one item of clothing I would try to save if my house was on fire.

It’s the perfect print for pairing with my favorite off-black denim, and it always looks polished. I’m also super picky about animal prints, and this one is just so good. Even though crewnecks aren’t my best neckline, I find myself reaching for this top again and again. It also layers beautifully under denim jackets and my black coated jacket shown above.

Unfortunately, I purchased it a few years ago, and I’ve never found anything quite like it, so I can’t really link you to anything similar. ATM does make this Schoolboy Tee in solid colors, though, and a few other prints.

#8. Brown or Taupe Ankle Boots

Aquatalia Brigitte Luxe Bootie (8; other favorites here, here, and here) // Frame Le High Straight (29) // Madewell Henley Sweater (S)

Ankle boots are my footwear of choice during the fall and winter when I want to level up a casual outfit for dinner out, church, and other occasions where sneakers feel too casual.

I wear a lot of black and grey and other cool color tones in my clothing, so black boots always have a place in my closet, and that’s the color I probably wear most in the wintertime. But in the fall, I tend to gravitate to taupe and light to medium shades of brown. I’m also partial to suede, but I do have some leather options in my closet as well.

Favorite brands are Sam Edelman, Dolce Vita, Marc Fisher, Vince, as well as Blondo and Aquatalia for waterproof suede. I linked some of my current fall favorites under the picture above.

#9. Loafer Mules

 Steve Madden Pointed Toe Mule (option // option // splurge option) // Halogen Rib Scoop Neck Sweater (S) // Frame Le High Straight (29)

If I’m not wearing sneakers or ankle boots in the fall, chances are I’m wearing loafer mules. I feel like they’re the perfect compromise between too precious (i.e. ballet flats and pointy toe flats) and too masculine (i.e. loafers and oxfords). Plus, they’re just so easy to slip on and go.

The plaid pair I’m wearing above is a great way to add a subtle print to an outfit, and I love the matte black hardware. Beyond that, most of my favorites are sold out.

I wear this black pair a lot because I like how the croc embossed leather with gold hardware adds texture and shine to an outfit. And my other favorites are the Gucci loafer mules in taupe, which I hesitate to even mention because they’re such an extravagant splurge. (And the price has gone up quite a bit since I bought mine, yikes!)

This pair and this one are decent alternatives, but I can’t find much in that taupe color. This pair has the closest color I’ve found, but I don’t care for the matching buckle. Loafers are probably more on trend at the moment than loafer mules, and I do have this pair in Brown Croc Gold that I love, but for the most part, I prefer the mule version.

#10. Classic Leather Belts

AllSaints belt // similar // option

I’ve never needed belts to hold my pants up because my waist is so high, the waistband on most jeans hits at the widest part of my middle-aged middle, so I don’t have the gaping issue some hourglass body types have. For that reason, and because they weren’t really trending in recent years, I never wore belts very much. In fact, I didn’t even have a belt in my closet for the longest time.

But for some reason, I’ve started to feel like many of my outfits are missing something without one, and I’ve slowly been purchasing classic leather belts in different neutral tones to match the shoes and bags in my fall wardrobe.

Now I find myself wearing one almost every time I front tuck my shirt. I like how they add a finishing touch and an extra point of interest to my understated outfits. My favorite brands for quality leather belts are AllSaints, B-Low The Belt, and Harriet Isles.

#11. Statement Tote

Clare V. Simple Tote (option // budget option // splurge option) // AG Mari Slim Straight (28) // AllSaints Lock Mock Neck Sweater (S)

I find myself wearing my neutral crossbody bags most often in the spring/summer, but come fall, I start reaching for totes and bucket bags. I don’t really know why this is; it’s not like I carry more with me in the fall than I do in the summer, although I guess it’s nice to have a place to stash my jacket or scarf or gloves if I get overheated.

I especially love a tote in a fun neutral print, like the cheetah print above, or the LV Neverfull in Damier Abene. The brown tones in that print work really well for fall. I also like this Tory Burch option.

Well, that ended up being a lot longer than I expected! Who knew I could find so much to say about fall wardrobe must haves? Ha! Don’t answer that…

If you liked this post, you might also like My 9 Must Have Black Wardrobe Staples from last winter.

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photos: Alison Cornell

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34 Responses

  1. Hi Jo-Lynne!
    Love this post (well, all of them actually). 🙂

    I would love to know what boots you are wearing in the “statement tote” pic.


  2. 100% agree with all of this ! I took your advice a few years back and started investing in quality denim (Mother jeans are my absolute favorite). Speaking of elevated sweatshirts, I was wondering if you had tried any of the Anine Bing sweatshirts ? I am very drawn to them, but the price is steep !!! You’re so honest regarding weather something is worth the cost so I wanted your take on it them.

  3. Hi JoLynne—Have you noticed or have had a problem with sweaters that contain acrylic? I find they pill quickly and don’t hold up as well as other fabrics. It seems more companies are using acrylic in their fabrication and not sure if that’s because it’s cheaper to do so. Any thoughts or has anyone else had that problem?

    1. Yes, acrylic is cheaper than natural fibers, and that’s why so many companies are using it. I will buy sweaters with it, but I don’t expect them to hold up like sweaters with more wool/cashmere/cotton content.

    2. Rose…. Years ago I found that acrylic sweaters pill and look cheap. I won’t buy any with it anymore. That’s why I appreciate that Jo-Lynne hasn’t followed other bloggers in posting sweaters from Amazon. Their sweaters are cheap with so much acrylic. I once bought one recommended from another blogger and wore it once and got rid of it. It pilled, was so scratchy and looked cheap. Never again.

  4. Hi, this isn’t specific to your topic today but 🙂 could you breakdown for me why the white sneakers in the email and first pic (KFK jacket) work with those jeans? Thank you!

    1. I like how the black accent on the shoe ties into the color of the jeans, and the styles work well together because there’s a little bit of skin showing between the hem of the jeans and the shoes.

  5. Hi! Would you please share the jeans you are wearing in the statement tote photo? I’m struggling this fall…I’m not a huge fan of cropped jeans; I don’t like the loafer look or lugged soles. I want to add some full length boot cut and flare jeans to my wardrobe. I loved those even when they weren’t in style! Like you, I love sweaters and am glad to see the shorter length rather than the tunic style. I’m tall and thin so the shorter sweaters are better for me I think. Thanks for all of your practical tips! 💙

  6. I too have been working on curating a wardrobe of pieces I actually love and wear! It’s been hard to part with somethings that hold sentimental feelings or what I paid for it 10 years ago or it’s still in great shape and the list as you know goes on…. But I’m determined to have a closet with clothes that I actually reach for …and more sparse it might be it makes total sense! Love all your looks today but that first one is definitely a favorite!

  7. “Blazers too corporate even when dressed down, cardigans make me feel frumpy” – this thoughtful explanation is why i appreciate your posts so much! I have blazers and cardigans…aaaaand I reach for my jackets. Now I know why!

  8. Would you say the Veja Esplars are comfortable and easy to walk in? Also, do they have any kind of tread? I have mobility issues and need nonslip shoes. Thanks so much!

  9. Great post! I need to curate my closet and keep only what I love. I have a hard time giving things away!
    What podcast were you listening to? I would love some “lightbulb” moments.
    Thanks for all you do!

  10. Any ideas on where to look for the Kara jacket in Chestnut? Nordstrom’s was always out in my size. I ordered small like my other Kut jackets from the Kut website. This feels shorter and smaller than their other jackets though. I think I’d be more happy going up to a medium but can’t find one. And I need to decide because I probably need to send the other back soon. I’ve also checked stores like Nordstrom and Evereve.

  11. Jo-Lynne – thanks for this post. Questions for you…do you think the Brigitte Luxe Bootie are worth $350? I really love the look and color of them but wow that is a big price tag and I know they are normally more than that. I’m looking for more of a round or wider toe (not pointy) and a block heel on the lower side. The Vince Kaye Block Heel Bootie are really nice too and still $200 which is definitely better but I’m not sure about the color. I prefer something warmer the woodsmoke looks grey to me. Any advice? Thanks!

    1. I can’t really answer that question for anyone but myself. They’re worth it to me, but it all depends on your budget and personal style and how much you think you’ll wear them. They’re gorgeous boots, comfortable, and best of all, weather proof. If comparing with the Vince, it’s a matter of color (warm or cool – which goes with most of your wardrobe?) and also remember the Aquatalia are weather proof.

  12. I didn’t get your email in my Inbox this morning. Had to go to your blog to see if you posted today. I wonder why? Anything I should do on my end? Great Fall essential list. Agree on it all. I love Fall dressings.

  13. Love those plaid mules! Dumb question, how do you keep them on? Every time I try to wear slip on mules (except with heels), my feet slide out as I walk.

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