A Classic Cold Weather Capsule Wardrobe With A Modern Edge + 10 Getups!

From a handful of key pieces come endless outfit possibilities. We’ll show you how it works.

No matter what your favorite season might be, you have to admit that Fall and Winter are the best style seasons.

The brisk weather offers the perfect opportunity for a mix of classy and rugged looks. Autumn is blazer weather, but it’s also flannel weather. It is a season of cozy, casual, cool, and professorial chic. Winter may be dark and cold, but your softest sweaters and distinguished coats finally get their chance to shine.

The colder months are also the ideal time to perfect your capsule wardrobe. Coined in the 1970s by London boutique owner Susie Faux and popularized by Donna Karen in the 1980s, the idea behind a capsule wardrobe is to build a collection based on a few essential items that never go out of style.

The goal here is to choose a dozen or so items that can constitute your entire cold weather fashion look. You can adjust for swings in temperature or changes in formality and still maintain the rugged yet classy look offered by this capsule.

Let’s take a closer look at the pieces we’ve assembled and then talk about how you combine them to create a number of perfect fall outfits.

Rugged Fall & Winter Men's Fashion Capsule Collection - Style Inspiration

Outerwear

Having a good blazer in your fashion arsenal ensures that you'll be able to match the dress code of all but the most formal occasions at a moment’s notice. You’ll be able to throw on the blazer over a number of different outfits to elevate your look.

Field jackets come in a few different forms; the one featured here is closer to a trucker jacket. With its waxed canvas and textured lining, this American-made option from Flint & Tinder will keep you dry, warm, and looking great dressed up or down.

Pea coats have a long history of being worn by tough-as-nails men, and while wearing one doesn’t automatically make you a member of their ranks, its reputation as an officer’s jacket will add a storied ruggedness to whatever you wear with it.

Mid Layers

Originally for boxers, the classic gray crewneck looks sharp in this slim-fitting take, and maintains its rugged heritage vibe even when paired with dressier items. And of course, it looks and feels great when worn casually, too.

Anyone who has ever dealt with early morning fall bluster knows that a hoodie is an essential cold weather item. Since this might be your go-to casual piece, there’s no reason you can’t look at something that’s fashion forward and that you’ll want to wear in a variety of environments.

Nothing says cozy like a shawl-collar sweater. It’s the kind of sweater you can imagine yourself wearing while sipping a hot toddy next to a fireplace, or as you drink an Americano and read a novel.

Shirts

Plaid shirts are a fall and winter staple; some men line their entire closet with them. Even if lumberjack chic is not your thing, a subdued plaid pattern will add a nice touch to your capsule wardrobe.

A henley offers that just-right mix of rugged and stylish and is the perfect shirt for layering.

The right button-up shirt can work in almost any situation: go one button up for more formal and one button down for more casual. Chambray has a nice, subtle texture, making it more interesting than your standard Oxford while also allowing it to be dressed up or down.

Pants

An American staple since 1873, there’s a reason they’re still the go-to jean. The 502 is a modern take on the classic 501, offering a straight thigh with a tapered leg opening for those men who like the look of a narrow leg but who also frequent the gym.

A dressier yet versatile look that allows you to move seamlessly from work to the bar.

A more rugged take on the khaki, with a little extra thickness, these are the perfect pants for cooler weather.

For an option a little lighter on the wallet, Amazon's house line Goodthreads offers a similarly shaded pair of chinos for that Tinder Date stroll in the park.

Shoes

 

Oxfords have long been a men’s fashion staple, a hallmark of simple elegance. A pair of suede wingtips can be dressed up for work (or more) or worn with slim jeans casually. A great alternative for your casual looks when you want something less built like a boot but more put-together than a sneaker.

The service boot is a sleek and classic boot style that can be worn well into the dressier end of smart casual. With a heritage in the military, these American-made service boots from Chippewa will give you a strong footing you can be proud of.

Whether you’re stomping through puddles or shuffling into a subway car, a rugged boot is a cold weather essential. Moc Toes with wedge soles are more casual than a lot of boots you'll find, making them a great third option in contrast to the dressier suede oxfords and service boots.

Accessories

Even if ties aren’t always workplace essentials these days, the touch of sophistication they offer shouldn’t be ignored. The knit texture pairs with the chambray, plaid, and wool in a way a shiny silk never could.

A handy bag that will work with all of your capsule outfits.

Rugged but not bulky, this is the perfect fall and winter watch.

Outfits

Look 1: Rugged & Classic

This classic, casual look is tough yet fashionable, durable yet stylish. The embodiment of that rustic fall feeling.

Look 2: Classy & Smart

men cold weather outfit inspiration

A slightly more dressy look that feels elevated yet natural. Put-together, but not flashy.

Look 3: Relaxed & Refined

men's fall and winter outfit idea

Smart but not overly so, this look blends the rugged and the refined.

Look 4: Modern & Minimal

men fall and winter capsule wardrobe - crew sweatshirt boots

Match a bar dress code – without going over the top – with this clean look. Like minimalist style? Check out out our Minimalist Style guide for 5 more outfits.

Look 5: Layered & Versatile

hoodie outfit ideas

As you bounce from the train to the coffee shop to your favorite lunch spot, this outfit will keep you comfortable.

Look 6: Bold & Brainy

men fall and winter capsule wardrobe - sportcoat flannel service boot

Perfect for a more casual work conference that you still want to look professional for.

Look 7: Cool & Casual

men fall and winter capsule wardrobe - hoodie henley field coat

You can still look good while projecting those “Sunday morning errands” vibes.

8. Classic & Casual

Hearty blazers don't have to be relegated just to dressing up – they can also be worn as outerwear. See this look in action in our Live Action Getup: The Sportcoat as Casual Outerwear

Live Action Getup: Sportcoat as casual outerwear

9. Authentic Americana

men fall and winter capsule wardrobe - chambray shirt moc toe boots henley

Waxed canvas, chambray and denim, and Moc Toe boots? It'd be harder to get any closer to classic Americana Workwear.

10 Work & Wander

men fall and winter capsule wardrobe - peacoat flannel

Perfect for the office or a great restaurant, the combination of textures emphasize you know what you're doing.

Which combos are your favorites? Have a new one? Share it in the comments and we'll add it to the list!

Brenden Gallagher is a freelance writer covering style, politics, television, and film at various outlets including The Daily Dot, High Snobiety, Grailed, and Primer. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers' assistant.

  • Martin C.

    Great article! I believe the concept of a capsule wardrobe is something that most men wish to acquire. The individual pieces and outfits are all very intentional which I appreciate.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Thanks Martin! Glad you liked it.

  • https://www.instagram.com/howhardcouldthatbe/ Scott Ingalls

    I live out of a roll-aboard suit case for months at a time, and I travel with something very similar to this capsule, in fact some of the pieces are the same. The lynch pin – in my opinion – to a good capsule is the Garanimals system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXceQWHxcpo In my case I only bring one pair of boots / dress shoes, and never both. So, the shoes I travel with have to cover both bases (Stillman Brown just wrote about this in “An Ode to Brown Leather Boots”). I usually travel with a pair of Brown Danner Jack II boots, and when I do, I pack no garment that would beg for black shoes, or if I’m traveling with my black shoes, everything goes with black. The overlap pieces are the ones with real value, for example, a light blue chambray shirt can roll in both a brown shoe or black shoe capsule.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      haha nice!!!

  • TheMB

    That looks like a very mild winter-ish wardrobe. The jackets appear way to light for the sub 0°C we are experiencing in Europe right now. Also, suede is somewhat impractical around snow, ice and rain. But I like the selection overall for early spring and fall, good selection of casual and somewhat smart items for a well-rounded closet. Thumbs up!

    • Ethan Berry

      Yeah, it seems these guys live on the American East Coast. It’s wayyy too cold in the Midwest to be dressing like this most days. Still looks great though