Fall/Winter Fashion
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Winter Wardrobe Essentials

Greetings and salutations on this first Monday of 2023! To kick off the New Year, I’ve updated my Winter Wardrobe Essentials for 2023. These are what I consider to be the basic building blocks to a stylish and workable winter wardrobe.

Before we get started, I have to make all the standard disclaimers. First of all, this post is geared to those of us who live in colder climates. If your weather is more moderate this time of year, my Fall Wardrobe Essentials might be more relevant for you.

And because we all have different lifestyles needs, I try to keep these wardrobe essentials lists fairly general. You’ll want to tweak it to work for you.

I spend most days at home, so my personal winter wardrobe essentials are heavier on casual wear and lighter on dressier styles, but I still try to make sure I have clothes for any occasion that might crop up so I’m not scrambling when I get a last minute invite.

Finally, be sure to consider cost per wear when deciding how much to allocate to each wardrobe item, so you can make the most of your budget.

Winter Wardrobe Essentials {Updated for 2023}

I rounded up some shopping options, in case you need to refresh or add any of these items to your closet this year. Let me know if you have any questions about fit or sizing, and I’ll do my best to help!

1. Classic Wool Coat

similar wool coat // similar scarf // black sweater // jeans // sneakers

I’m starting my list this year with a classic wool coat, even though I wear my puffer coats a lot more. That’s because a classic wool coat will take you just about anywhere — from the office to dinner, from the grocery store to the shopping mall, and anywhere in between.

This is the perfect piece of outerwear to top off a work look or a sweater dress for church, or you can throw it on over jeans and a casual sweater and look instantly chic. You can even wear it over your athleisure for that enviable off-duty vibe.

STYLE TIP: Matching your coat to your hair color is an easy way to elevate your look. I think this is why I tend to gravitate to black coats. I often try other colors and neutrals, but I always feel best in black coats. If you’re a blonde, camel might be a better option.

Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t have both, but if you must choose one, I’d recommend going with a color that is close to your hair color.

Shop Wool Coats:

2. Weather-Proof Boots

Blondo boots

Weather-proof boots that can handle snow and rain are a must in cold climates. I love Sorel for practicality, and Blondo and Aquatalia both do really good weather-resistant fashion boots that are both practical and stylish.

Color-wise, I like to have a variety of neutrals — black, grey, taupe, and cognac are all good options. I’ve also heard that matching your shoes to your hair color is an easy way to look put-together because they bookend your look, and once again, this is probably one reason I gravitate to black boots.

I love lighter neutrals too, though, especially with light wash jeans, so I will continue to wear them. As with any of these style tips, you should take them with a grain of salt, and wear what makes YOU happy!

Shop Weather-Proof Boots:

3. Scarves

Burberry scarf (budget option) // similar jacket // jeans // Aquatalia boots

One question I get a lot this time of year is, Are scarves in style?

Scarves as a cold weather accessory are always appropriate, but scarf styles do evolve with the times, so pay attention to what is selling in the stores you frequent.

You can find beautiful winter scarves at just about any price point, but wool and cashmere are usually going to be the warmest fabric. If you’re allergic, I also included a few with no wool content.

Shop Winter Scarves:

4. Puffer Coat

coat // jeans (29) // boots // tote

A puffer coat or parka of some sort is a must-have winter outerwear piece, but whereas you can wear a wool coat with both dressy and casual looks, a puffer coat is pretty much always a casual wardrobe piece.

I like to have at least one full-length, heavy-duty puffer for the coldest days and a shorter option for milder winter weather. I actually wear my short quilted jackets a lot more than my long parka because our winters aren’t super duper cold here in Philly.

Bernardo jacket (M) // sweater // jeans

Ideally, you’ll want puffer coats that are waterproof so they protect you in all kinds of inclement weather. I also like to buy my coats with hoods so I don’t need to carry an umbrella, but they also come in handy for blocking out wind and cold.

Shop Puffer Coats:

5. Tech Gloves

gloves

My fingers freeze in the wintertime, but I also want to be able to access my smartphone when I’m out and about, so tech-friendly gloves are a must.

Shop Tech-Friendly Gloves:

6. Cozy Sweaters

Equipment Madalene Cashmere V-Neck Sweater (S)

A good quality sweater can work for so many occasions. Wear it to work with trousers or a skirt, wear it on the weekend with jeans and sneakers, wear it on a date night with jeans and heels… you get the idea!

Sweaters and jeans are my daily uniform in the fall and winter, and I have a LOT of sweaters! I like to have variety of necklines, and I’m a huge fan of cashmere. No other sweater fabric is as soft and warm. (Read my Cashmere Sweater Reviews.)

Of course, some people are allergic, so I rounded up an assortment with some good non-wool options too.

Shop Winter Sweaters:

7. Non-Distressed Jeans

Paige Claudine Raw Hem Flare Jeans // Naadam sweater // similar booties

Jeans are a 4-season wardrobe staple for me, but in the wintertime, I steer away from rips and holes. It’s usually too cold for that, and they look rather incongruous worn with sweaters and boots.

If you wear jeans regularly, you’ll want a variety of styles and washes. I would definitely recommend adding a pair of grey or washed black jeans to your wardrobe, if you don’t have any. They’re highly versatile — even more so than blue jeans, if you ask me — and very on trend at the moment.

Shop My Favorite Jeans:

8. Sweater Dresses

sweater dress (S) // boots c/o

I love a sweater dress in the wintertime. Pair it with tights and boots or booties for a look that’s chic and effortless. Wear it to the office, to church, on a dinner date, or for lunch with the girls.

I recommend wearing a slip under your sweater dresses. It helps them skim the body and not cling to any lumps and bumps, and it also prevents them from sticking to your tights.

Shop Sweater Dresses:

9. Tights & Socks

Smartwool Polka Dot Crew Socks // Marc Fisher Yale Chelsea Boots

Tights are a must-have with dresses in the winter, and they can also be worn as a layer under jeans for extra warmth. Spanx makes my favorite opaque tights, and I love the Wolford Individual 10 for a sheer black or nude. And Falke makes a lovely pair of ultra sheer hose for more formal looks. I also have a pair of nude fishnets I keep on hand for times when I want some texture.

When it comes to socks, I usually wear the J.Crew cashmere blend trouser socks and the Smartwool cable crew socks with ankle boots. I also love Sheec for a sockless look.

Shop Tights & Socks:

10. Leather Sneakers

Veja Esplar (39)

These used to be included only in my fall wardrobe essentials list, but I find myself wearing my leather sneakers all through the winter, so I thought I’d add them to the winter essentials as well. I often just slide my bare feet into them (or wear the Sheec Active-X Mid-Cut) for a sockless look, but you can wear the J.Crew cashmere socks or others.

Leather sneakers hold up better to the elements than canvas, and they’re also warmer and look more seasonal. I love my Vejas, and I also wear my P448 Johns throughout the winter months. Of course, there are less expensive options available, but as often as I wear mine, my cost per wear is merely pennies at this point.

Shop Leather Sneakers:

#11. Non-Denim Pants

Vince pants // similar booties // leather moto // cashmere turtleneck

Even though I often wear jeans 7 days a week, I wouldn’t want to be without a pair of black pants in the wintertime, and you may need more than one pair of non-denim pants if your work dress code doesn’t allow jeans.

Shop Non-Denim Pants:

In order to cap this list at 11 wardrobe categories, I left out leggings and loungewear because they’re not super important to me, but I know a lot of women like to have those as well. And you may want to add blouses or a button-down top to this list.

I hope this post is helpful! It’s not an exhaustive list, but it should be a good place to start.

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photos: Alison Cornell

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25 thoughts on “Winter Wardrobe Essentials

  1. Very helpful post. I have a question about the fishnet tights. Are they a solid tight with a fishnet pattern or a real fishnet with the tiny holes? I had tights with the holes and the were not comfortable on my feet.

  2. Thank you for some great winter styling ideas! I have the sweater dress you highlighted and I also love the puffer coats.

  3. Thank you for the article, I along with others are trying to pare down things in our closet, and this is a great reminder of what to keep for the basic/core wardrobe. Have a blessed week.

  4. Welcome to peri/menopause and getting older. It stinks. My friends and I are all in early 50s, and experience this lack of sleep in the middle of the night. Doesn’t matter if you drink caffeine or not. It’s our bodies and our age. I have had this conversation many times with mature women about not being able to sleep. I will read to clear my mind and fall back to sleep, take melatonin or just wait it out until I get tired and fall back to sleep. Good luck

    1. Ughhh… I figured that is what it is. I often wake up around 2 or 3 and am in and out after that, but this started at like 11:30, and I kept waking up every hour and by 3, I couldn’t get to sleep for anything. I NEVER get up in the night. I always wait it out, but this time I couldn’t take it any longer.

  5. Jo-Lynne
    If you continue having sleep issues, get blood work done and have your hormones checked. As we “age” our hormones play a part in our sleep pattern. I started with the same issue with my sleep, I’m 62 and have already gone through the “change”. About 2 years ago I started having issues with hot flashes, night sweats, sleepless nights. My OBGYN did blook work and found I was low on estrogen among other things, she started me on BioT Pellets, they are all natural and are what your body produces. I feel 5000% better. I go every 4 months and get them inserted; they slowly dissolve into your system. She has been my hero 🙂
    As always I look forward to your posts each day. You do an amazing job.

  6. Ugh! 3:30AM wakeup. It’s brutal. I usually get a cup of tea and do some ironing. If I do fall back asleep, I wake up feeling like I was productive, lol!

  7. I have so many of your essentials, especially the long puffer coat, jeans and Ugg Adirondack boots – I feel it’s my “uniform”. So many great suggestions for sleep have already been listed. We’re all different so finding what works for you (and me, individually) can be a process. I take a multitude of supplements before bed to help me sleep (magnesium, L-Theanine and other calming herbs.) I’ve heard CBD oil can help. I’ll try anything to get a full nights sleep. Cheers to you!

  8. I love the blue pattern scarf you are wearing in the tech glove photo, do you have a link to that or similar? Thank you.

  9. I have the water bottle which does keep me on track with water consumption when used 😝I love the plastic foil organizer gadget may get that! And the to do list. My school supply heart loves that! Happy New Year!

  10. Yesterday I just ordered those Dolce vita sneakers I’ve been eyeing them for awhile…. Love the post they are always helpful…

  11. Good morning – I couldn’t sleep last night either. I was up & down all night, but finally fell back asleep around 4am & my alarm went off at 5:45am. I didn’t jump right up…but I’m feeling the lack of sleep sitting at my desk! Crazy!!

  12. Although I still occasionally have a rather restless night, Jupiter’s Dreamland CBD oil has helped a lot! Eliminating screen time for at least an hour before going to sleep helps too, as does lavender oil in my diffuser. Hope you get better sleep tonight! 🤞🏿

  13. Agree on 2, 4, 7, 8, 11 (have always LOVED that “Oxblood” moto!). As for sleep restlessness: as much as it’s hormonal changes (ugghh! — THAT struggle IS, unfortunately, REALLY REAL), in my own experience, I find I can no longer eat a “late” dinner or any substantial portion of food after say 6PM (easier said than done: when I was college age, I’d routinely “pig-out” with friends at Mickey D’s or have pizza around 8:30 at night; obviously, no more!). Soooo (and, not saying this is your situation — because you’re in far better physically fit shape than I am lol), if I’m dying for a snack before bed: I’ve found my cravings satisfied with a cup of Nissin Ramen soup (yes, the cheapo .49-cent type in the styrofoam container!) or a small bowl of cereal with no fat milk (I happen to be lactose intolerant — whole milk always made me feel feverish and congested my sinuses; though I still want some baseline of a calcium intake free of prescription medication). I can eat either of those as late as 9:30(!), conk-out by 11, then sleep uninterrupted until 7:20 the following morning. Another thing: I AVOID COFFEE AFTER 4 (not only because when the “flashes” come on the caffeine will make everything feel like a racing anxiety attack, but also you’ll constantly be making bathroom trips to flush your kidneys of it — coffee seems to have a negative effect when you’re drinking it for any OTHER reason than to try to literally “wake up” for the day!).

    As high-fashion as Wolford hosiery is, I’d be constantly worried about spending $50-$70 on tights then see I (inadvertently) snagged them on something so stupidly trivial (like: getting my knee hit by the car door after untangling the seat belt from my bulky winter coat — believe me: it’s happened!). I mean(?): the $7 No Nonsense in the supermarket or $15 HUE at Macy’s are one thing and, hey if they start wearing out in two months no big deal; however, it *would* be depressing to spend 4x that on the same item and worry about not ruining them.

  14. Jo-Lynne,
    Can you please tell me what brand the handbag is that you’re carrying when you are showing the tech friendly
    gloves? It’s beautiful, and I’m hoping it also comes in other colors.
    I’m also curious if you have had a chance to try the silver jewelry cleaner I recommended? I use it on all my 925 and silver Tiffany jewelry, and I know you have some David Yurman jewelry to try it on. 🙂
    Thank you!

  15. I hope that you sleep better tonight! For your readers, I highly recommend puffer coats from Lands End, as well as nice sweaters, and fleece lined pants. Here in the St. Louis area where we are visiting family, it reached a record high of 72 today. We were really hoping for cold weather, which will be here tomorrow as we head across the Mississippi River to visit other family in IL, outside of the St. Louis area. I should have packed summer clothes along with my cold weather clothes.

  16. Thank you for this! After the massive purge I did last week, this is exactly what I needed! I hope your sleep problem was an isolated incident and you’re sleeping well again. I woke up 2:00 this morning, and it was after 4:00 before I was able to get back to sleep. 🥴

  17. Target, in my shopping travels, years’ ago *used* to be a great source for quality hosiery that was affordable. Unfortunately: they ALWAYS seem to change their suppliers and, their “house brand” (in that department) is SO inconsistent in sizing and durability the next season when you go to try to replace what you need. However, I AM a fan of the brand Spanx makes for them (“Assets”) and don’t find the quality of it to be the kind of second-rate disaster some influencers make it sound like.

  18. Just love your posts! I bought the LOFT sweater dress from your link it is AWESOME true to size and will be perfect for my trip to Boston in February, so appreciate your recommendations and sizing, I got the Small ( I wear a 6 ) it fit perfectly 😊. Happy New Year!

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