Welcome to Dressed for My Day, where my goal, with each and every post, is to inspire and help women like you and me to dress beautifully and appropriately for our unique days so we can engage authentically and graciously with those around us and influence them well. Yes, it’s a mouthful! Hahaha! But on days like today it bears repeating. It’s Winter Wardrobe Essentials day!
One of the 9 Keys to Building a Wardrobe that Works for You is having the essentials. These essential pieces are actually the underpinnings of a functional, beautiful and versatile wardrobe. In fact, they’re the glue you need to pull outfits together. I’ve discovered that it’s important to choose essentials that are also beautiful, interesting and well made. After all, I end up wearing each of these frequently. And I’m also keeping some of these in my wardrobe for years, even decades.
I know that the readers here at Dressed for My Day are diverse. Some of you gals work outside the home, while others, like me, work from your homes. And many others are retired from your professions and enjoying the sweet life (you lucky dogs!). Also, while many of you are here because you gravitate toward my own rather classic style aesthetic, I do know some of you dress more natural and relaxed, feminine, rebellious, creative, dramatic or elegant. So depending on your season of life and lifestyle, coupled with your personal style essence, your winter wardrobe essentials may vary.
Hint: Don’t know your personal style essence? Take my simple, quick What’s Your Style Essence? quiz.
Finally, I’ve also discovered with my move to Ohio that “winter” is quite subjective. For the first time in my life, I’m piling on the layers. Ha! Whereas when I lived in Arizona, I barely needed a jacket throughout the winter months.
So today’s Winter Wardrobe Essentials list can be interpreted loosely. You don’t need to run out and buy everything on the list. Instead, use my list to help you think about which essentials you may need to purchase or update in order to create beautiful, versatile outfits from the clothes you love to wear.
Winter Wardrobe Essentials Video
I’ve also uploaded a video about Winter Wardrobe Essentials. You can watch it now or later. And be sure to subscribe to my channel on YouTube. If for some reason the video player does not load below, you can watch the video here.
Let’s get started looking at our winter wardrobe essentials.
I have grown to love high quality denim, but I don’t think that means you need to dole out hundreds of dollars for every pair. However, I do think, as much as most of us wear our jeans, it is important to have at least a couple of pairs that fit and flatter you beautifully.
This year skinny jeans and boot cut jeans are still fashionable, but straight leg jeans have taken the lead. I like the J.Crew 9″ vintage straight jeans in vintage medium wash above. They’re a great basic straight leg jean with a pleasantly relaxed fit that isn’t ultra baggy. I’m also enjoying my AG Mari high waist ankle slim straight leg jeans shown below. They’re pricey, so watch for a sale.
During the winter, however, I find myself wearing my skinny jeans the most, since I wear them under knee high boots. And honestly, straight leg jeans can be a little trickier to pair with the right shoes or boots.
Above I’m wearing the Levi’s 721 High Rise Skinny jean, and it’s available in a number of other washes. But I’m also a big fan of Talbots’ denim jeggings. Don’t let the name fool you; they feel and fit like jeans, not leggings.
I also find myself wearing my black jeans more and more frequently during the winter. Below I’m wearing my current favorites, the wash black super-straight jean from Everlane (the blue denim selection did not fit me the same at all).
Of course, you also may be one of my readers who prefer flare leg or boot cut jeans. I love the flare leg and boot cut jeans at White House Black Market. They’re long enough for my 5’8″ frame, but come in several different lengths and size ranges. But the bottom line is that you need to have a couple of pairs of jeans in silhouettes and colors that work for you.
TIP: I have more jean options in my recent Winter Denim Lookbook.
I’ve prepared shopping widgets for each category of wardrobe essentials. The links in the widgets and in the copy of this blog post are all affiliate links. If you shop through them I potentially earn a commission, but at no cost to you. Thank you for shopping through my links and helping me to be compensated for the work I’ve done to help you prepare your wardrobe for the winter.
Wardrobe Essentials Purchasing Tip – Choose jeans that are trending but also functional for your lifestyle. Especially consider the shoes you’ll gravitate toward and buy your denim accordingly.
Neutral Color Slacks
While I tend to wear jeans most days, I also like to have other pants in my wardrobe, both for dressier occasions and variety’s sake. If you’re a working gal you may want more, but even if your lifestyle is rather casual I suggest having at least one pair of other pants, preferably in one of your personal wardrobe neutral shades (see this post for determining your wardrobe colors).
I’ve been wearing the Nic + Zoe Wonderstretch Straight Leg Pants for three years now and absolutely love them. They’re comfortable, but also slimming and sharp. However, they’re also a bit pricey. So I’ve been doggedly searching for a comparable black pant to recommend in a lower price point. I’m pleased to say, I found them!!!
The Signature Slimming Luxe Stretch Straight Pant by Christopher & Banks is very similar to the Nic + Zoe pant at a fraction of the price. There is a difference in quality; I won’t lie. But you can definitely work with these. I’ve worn them several times now and find them to be flattering and comfortable. They’ve received mixed reviews on the website, but I think the problem is that people are trying to machine wash and dry them. I suggest washing with cold water, but then hanging them to dry. Then use a steamer or iron to get any wrinkles out. I put a tea cloth between the pants and the iron to prevent shiny marks. Also, I suggest you don’t wash these (or any) pants frequently, but only as absolutely needed.
If you’d prefer a pant with a front zip and belt loops, I recently bought these Hampshire ankle pants from Talbots and like them very much as well. I got the curvy fit.
Wardrobe Essentials Purchasing Tip – Purchase neutral colored slacks that you can wear with most of your signature colors. I prefer black, but you may prefer grey, brown or navy.
I didn’t mention camisoles in the video, but I did show myself wearing one under the layering tee. During the winter I frequently wear a stretch camisole that fits close to the body but not tight. You absolutely can find camisoles that are slimming, but I’m looking for something more comfortable than that. I really just wear these for warmth.
Wardrobe Essentials Purchasing Tip – I prefer to have a couple of colors of close fitting camisoles so that I’ll have what I need for all the sweaters in my wardrobe. I have black and flesh toned camis.
Long Sleeve Layering T-Shirts
Since moving north, I’m learning to layer like never before. I often add a long sleeve t-shirt under my sweaters or sweatshirts. But some of these versatile tops work well under cardigans, blazers or other jackets, too. The ribbed crewneck layering tees from Banana Republic shown below can definitely be worn alone or under a jacket or cardigan.
You can see how I styled these tees in the following photos.
The t-shirts above are the ones I prefer if I’m wearing them under something that is open. But I love the thinner layering tees from Nordstrom for wearing under pullover sweaters because they don’t have the thick seams around the collar or sleeve cuffs, and they lay smooth on my skin.
Wardrobe Essentials Purchasing Tip – Purchase t-shirts that you will be able to layer under sweaters and sweatshirts alike. You don’t have to tuck these tees in either. It’s very trendy to simply let the hem of your t-shirt peek out from under your sweater.
I also like to have long sleeve, basic turtlenecks in my winter wardrobe. I have a long neck and enjoy these full coverage tops, but if they’re not your jam, just skip these. Or you could opt for mock neck tees instead.
I enjoy wearing turtlenecks like these alone (often with a camisole under them) or under a sweatshirt or sweater.
I can personally recommend these three turtlenecks because these are the ones I own and wear. I like the thinner long sleeve turtleneck on the left best for layering and the ribbed turtleneck on the right for wearing alone or under puffer vest. The middle turtleneck is from Christopher and Banks and it is a well constructed budget friendly option.
Wardrobe Essential Purchasing Tip – While I also love turtleneck sweaters, for layering I prefer a turtleneck that is a little thinner and that fits close to the body.
Pullover Sweaters in Your Neutrals and Signature Colors
As much as I love colorful striped or otherwise decorated pullover sweaters, I find my wardrobe functions best if I have at least a couple of solid colored pullovers. I suggest having at least two pullovers in colors that work well with your wardrobe, maybe one in a preferred neutral and the other in one of your signature colors.
Some will say that these need to be crew necks, but I think you should go with whichever neckline you prefer. This year I added to my wardrobe a cable-knit cropped sweater in whipped cream and a cashmere Audrey sweater in light rosewood heather. I can wear either alone or with a tee or camisole layered underneath. Of course, I own other sweaters. But I like adding two new solids each year.
Wardrobe Essentials Purchasing Tip – This is a category for which I don’t mind investing a little more of my budget. So I choose classic cuts that I can wear for years. If I buy trendier pullovers, like oversized sweaters, I opt for cheaper versions.
A VERSATILE DRESS
I think every season calls for a versatile, flattering dress. But which dress style you select is a more personal choice. Choose a dress that works for your lifestyle, your style essence and your body shape and proportions.
While you can certainly wear other dresses in the winter time, I gravitate toward sweater dresses at this time of year. Even when I was living in Arizona, I preferred these warm knit dresses.
Wardrobe Essential Purchasing Tip – Again, consider your shoe choice as you select a dress for the winter. I think this may be the single most important fact in choosing a versatile dress for this time of year. I like sweater dresses because I can wear them with boots, booties, pumps or flats.
Let’s talk about the shoes that may be essential to your winter wardrobe, depending on your personal style essence, climate and lifestyle.
Most of us gals will want to have a pair of sneakers on hand for truly casual looks. You’ll find fashion sneakers ranging from the traditional to wedge heels to platforms. And you’ll also find sneakers in animal print and embossing as well as suede.
I’ve been wearing my Linea Paolo wedge sneakers for about a year now and still absolutely love them. I like the way the elevate a look but keep me feeling comfortable and casual.
Wardrobe Essential Purchasing Tip – This is the time of year when I prefer to wear darker colored sneakers to match the dark colored leggings, yoga pants and jeans I’m wearing. But purchase yours in a color that works with your wardrobe.
Booties are probably more popular in the fall, while many of us select their grown up cousins, boots, during the winter. But I definitely still wear my booties in the colder months. And I want booties that are waterproof and versatile.
In today’s video I suggested these Blondo Rachelle Waterproof Boots. I am so impressed with these elevated rugged lace-up booties. They were comfortable right out of the box, they’re easy to get on and off and they provide a little edge to my outfits.
But I also recently ordered the Sorel Lennox Lace-Up Boots and am awaiting their arrival. I got them in blackened brown leather to fill a hole in my wardrobe, but they’re also available in black and nature sandy tan.
Of course you don’t have to have lace-up boots to get waterproof boots. You choose the style that works best for your style aesthetic. And if you don’t live in an area where you need waterproof boots, then skip this category all together.
Of course, you’ll want other shoes in your wardrobe for winter, too. I love my riding boots and my other booties. But the biggest shift we make from Fall Wardrobe Essentials to Winter Wardrobe Essentials is simply adding those all weather boots for wet, snowy weather.
Wool Blend Overcoat
While I definitely need coats to help me combat wet and severely cold weather, I still think a pretty wool blend overcoat is a winter wardrobe essential. I suggest choosing a lined, warm coat in a neutral color that works well with your wardrobe. If you’d like a second one to add to your coat closet, select one in a pretty signature color, such as red or powder blue.
See my recent Winter Coat Guide 2020-2021 for a more comprehensive discussion of coats you might need for winter and for more exhaustive shopping options.
Honestly I never owned a puffer coat until I moved to Ohio, but now I have two. Last year I purchased this Cole Haan hooded down and feather puffer coat in cashew. I love this coat! I did size up to a large just so it would be plenty roomy to wear over several other layers. Right now it’s 50% off and well stocked in a variety of sizes and colors.
I love having a puffer coat in a lighter neutral in my wardrobe. It’s a fresh site in a sea of black coats, which of course are probably more practical. And I did purchase a black puffer coat for that reason. I wanted something that would go with absolutely everything, pack well and keep me warm. So during the NSale I purchased this Bernardo Packable EcoPlume™ Hooded Walker Coat. This coat feels lightweight, but keeps me toasty warm. It’s so very soft, too. And it has straps inside that the coat easily packs into.
My Bernardo Packable EcoPlume™ Hooded Walker Coat is almost sold out, but I’ve linked you to similar options in the shopping widget below.
Winter Weather Accessories
Once you’ve determined the colors of your wardrobe, you actually can buy scarves in pretty prints that will coordinate. For instance, I wore this pretty plaid scarf with my pink coat, but it will also work with my black puffer coat. But the safest bet is definitely to invest in a scarf in a pretty neutral that will play nicely with even more.
I have a grey scarf, darker grey fingerless gloves and a grey beanie (not pictured above). I know I can wear these with any of my coats or jackets. I’ve filled the shopping widget below with lots of options in each category.
Tights & Socks
I like to wear tights with many of my dresses and skirts during the winter. But you can also wear them under pants or jeans for warmth. I suggest very opaque tights because they’re most slimming.
I’ve not found the ones I really recommend personally yet. But several readers recently recommended the Simply Vera tights from Kohl’s. I’ve linked you to several options in the shopping widget. And I also hear good things from these that are available on Amazon.
Wardrobe Essential Purchasing Tip – Purchase tights in the colors of your boots, booties or other shoes you’ll be wearing. Don’t worry as much about the color of the dress or skirt. You generally want your tights to match your shoes for a longer leg silhouette.
Depending on where you live or your lifestyle or style essence, you may think of other pieces that are essential to your wardrobe. And of course, you’ll want to fill out your wardrobe with additional sweaters, tops, pants and skirts. But most of those pieces are style choices, not essentials. Remember, wardrobe essentials are the pieces you need in order to successfully and beautifully wear the current trends as well as the beautiful pieces you’ve collected over the years.
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Blessed for My Day
How beautiful that the shepherds decided to draw close instead of backing away when they were told about the birth of Jesus. “Let’s go see!” they said. They wanted to see with their own eyes what God had to revealed to them.
This Christmas let’s be women who draw near, too. Let’s look with our own eyes into the Scriptures and read the amazing story over and over. Let’s ponder what we read and let’s hold it close to our hearts. Let’s think about the words we sing and the candles we light and the advent messages we hear. Let’s draw near and see more clearly this thing which the Lord has made known to us.
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” ~ Luke 2: 15