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The Must Have Fall Wardrobe Basics for Your Closet

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Even if you are still soaking up the last few days of summer, fall will be here soon. It’s time to start looking at your closet to see if you need to fill in some gaps or update for the fall season. Here’s a list of fall wardrobe basics you need for the season.

This post was originally published in 2021 and has been updated for 2023.

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Let me clarify something first. This list of fall wardrobe essentials is just a guide. What is essential to one person may not be to another.

Consider your lifestyle, temperature, weather and personal needs. Use this list as a guide and make it fit your needs.

If I am honest, I don’t need any of these things until late, late fall. Shorts are still pretty much essential around here because the temperature stays in the 80s well into October.

You need to have things in your fall wardrobe that fit your reality, not your “fantasy fall’. ( I have a fantasy fall where the temps are 50-60 degrees all day and night, cozy sweaters are comfortable, the leaves are all red and yellow and orange, and we sit by a fire every evening. Yeah, total fantasy for South Georgia.)

With all that being said, here are fourteen pieces to consider as your fall wardrobe basics.

The Basics for a Well Rounded Fall Wardrobe

The Top Fall Wardrobe Essentials- Jeans

When the season switches to fall, jeans take the place of shorts. Made from denim, jeans are a durable option for long pants.

They can certainly be a part of your year-round capsule wardrobe but a good pair of jeans needs to be in your fall wardrobe. Start with a fabulous fitting pair of blue jeans, in medium or dark wash.

flannel shirt with straight leg jeansPin

Jeans- Old Navy (similiar)

Once you have nailed your best, most flattering fit in standard blue, branch out and add a few pairs in other colors. Black denim and grey denim are extremely versatile in the fall.

Jeans are so diverse and complicated that they could have their own post, or multiple posts on the topic. The trend is going away from skinny jeans to looser fits, and straight leg jeans, cropped, flare leg jeans , and wide leg jeans are having their moments right now. Pick the fit and leg style that you are most comfortable in and that flatters you.

See also: How to Find Jeans That Fit

A Pullover Sweater

You may live in a climate that provides sweater weather in the fall. If so, a knit sweater is a must.

Sweater vests are trending this fall.  If your climate does not allow for a thick cozy sweater, a lightweight sweater vest will still give you the fall vibes in a warmer climate.

A sweater can be paired with denim shorts and skirts in the fall, or with other fall-colored lightweight skirts.

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You may even choose a short sleeve sweater, or sweater tank if you live in an extremely warm fall climate like I do. Regardless, the knit aspect of a sweater easily identifies as fall.

As with jeans, there are so many styles of sweaters available. Consider what works with the rest of your fall wardrobe and with your lifestyle.

 If you are a leggings and skinny jeans loving gal, you may want a longer tunic sweater. If you are going to try some of the more modern leg styles of jeans this year, a more fitted crew neck or V-neck sweater might be a better option.

I also find that basic crew neck and V-neck sweaters work well for the office with blazers.

For more casual vibes, you may want to go with an oversized sweater. 

See also: 9 Ways to Wear a Crew Neck Sweater


A cardigan will be your best friend in the fall and should be among your fall wardrobe basics.

Layer it with everything from basic tees, graphic tees, camisoles, fall blouses, to fall dresses. Lengths of cardigans go in and out of trend. Pick a length that flatters you the best.

Long cardigans are still in style, just mind where the length falls. Don’t let it stop at the widest part. Let it skim past. Shorter cropped button front cardigans are going to be trendy this fall, especially in cable knit.

mustard cardigan with graphic tee, fall wardrobe essentialPin

Cardigan- Target; option

Base layers

Tees, tanks and camisoles count here. If you have a true fall with cool temps, opt for a long sleeve tee. Those of us the in warmers climates will utilize camisoles, tanks and tees for fall feels under lighter cardigans for a fall outfit.

Leggings or joggers

The 2020 pandemic brought a renewed interest and need for comfort. No one is giving up their leggings or joggers any time soon.

Even if you just wear them for lounging, a pair of either will be a welcome addition to your fall wardrobe. Wear them for lounging and casual outings.

Both leggings and joggers can be dressed up with the right pieces when you need to dress up a bit beyond athleisure.

Level up your fall outfits with a pair of faux leather leggings. They make a great addition to your closet for date night.

joggers and cardigan essentials for a fall wardrobePin

Black pants (or a non-denim option)

You might not need them often, put there are times when you need a pair of pants for an occasion that jeans and joggers aren’t appropriate for.

A pair of black pants in a classic trouser leg or an ankle pant will pair nicely most tops and sweaters. If you find black too harsh or boring, blue is a trendy color for fall and will be versatile as well.

See also: Black doesn’t have to be boring (or scary) for 15 Creative Ways to Wear Black Pants.

A Fall Print Top

You may choose solid or neutral colors or stripes for your sweaters and base layers, but a pretty, printed long-sleeve top will give you lots of options. A fall floral will give you the option to pull in several seasonal colors.

fall work wear with teal blazer and fall print topPin


One good versatile jacket may get you through the season if you live in a climate like mine, so I’m not going to tell you that you need a moto jacket, denim jacket and a utility jacket.

Any one of these styles will likely cover all your bases if you consider your lifestyle carefully. If you want an option that can go both dressy and casual, choose a leather jacket or faux suede or a slightly dressier utility jacket.

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I wear blazers year-round. I have them in all colors and weights of materials.

A blazer can be the perfect layer for fall. It’s just enough to knock off the chill, but not too much. A blazer can be worn with your dressy and casual outfits.

You can pair it with any combo of other items on this list and have an instant outfit. A neutral color like black or navy will be versatile, but a print like a plaid or leopard can be lots of fun.

plaid blazer with light wash jeans fall outfitPin

A Dress

A fall colored or patterned dress is good to have in your wardrobe for the same reason as black or non-denim trousers. If you know with certainty you will never wear a dress, skip it. An outfit with trousers, a nice top and blazer will usually carry you through most any dressy occasion these days.


When fall comes it’s time to put away the sandals and cover the toes.

Loafers and mules are another easy option for those in warmer fall climates. They go with your shorts, skirts, and other warm weather options, but create more of a fall vibe than sandals would.

I find loafers and mules to be a great choice for some of the cropped jeans and pants as well as being a good choice for straight leg jeans.

You can’t go wrong with classic loafers and mules, but if you want to be more on trend, try a pair of lug sole loafers.


Fashion sneakers are still having a moment (or two or three) and classic white sneakers are still in style. Wear them with everything from joggers, leggings and jeans to dresses.

tunic top with jeans and sneakers for fallPin

Ankle boots

Who doesn’t instantly think of ankle boots when you think of fall? A great taupe or cognac pair will go with everything.

The classic styles will always be in style, and lug sole boots. When you pick a pair of ankle boots, consider if you want a short shaft so you can still see some skin or if a slightly taller shaft will work better the pants and jeans in your wardrobes.

A slightly taller shaft works great with straight leg jeans and cropped pants (particularly if you don’t want skin to show.)

A Neutral Handbag

Large totes are trending now, but it’s hard to be out of style with a purse (unless you are still carrying one from twenty or thirty years ago and it really shows its age. A classic designer purse might be the exception.)

Choose a neutral color like taupe, black or brown for fall.

As I stated earlier, your list of fall wardrobe essentials might look a little different depending on climate and lifestyle, but this list is a good basic place to start. You could very easily get through the fall season with these options alone.

Just mix and match. Once you have the basics in place, play with fall colors, patterns, and trends. Carry a handbag in a punchy fall color. Wear the trendy jeans. Have fun with fashion and don’t be captive to rules.

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