Casual Fall Wardrobe Essentials

My Fall wardrobe basics: the striped tee, the easy cardigan, the lightweight jacket. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

More than any other retail season, I find that Fall is a great time to refresh or replenish wardrobe basics. To me, “basics” are those no-nonsense pieces that become the workhorses in my wardrobe. I’m always on the lookout for simple pieces in lightweight layers. And now, a little color too.

Fall Wardrobe Basics

Your style, lifestyle, and climate will often determine what your “basics” are. Ideally, they’re pieces that work together, don’t require a lot of fuss to style, and feel appropriate for your day-to-day activities. (My lifestyle is mostly casual these days, but I still want to look put-together.)

The Striped Tee

Madewell long-sleeve vintage striped cotton tee in Mahogany. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

A good striped tee is one of the most adaptable tops in my wardrobe. It’s not always easy to find the right cut and colors, but this one from Madewell ticks the boxes. Above, in a Mahogany stripe (which I picked up over the weekend.)

Madewell long-sleeve vintage striped tee, olive with blue. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

And, an olive green/blue combination (for those with cooler palettes), or rust/ochre combo. The fit is not boxy, but not snug either, and my usual size S fit well. Offered in sizes XX-Small to 3X.

Vince striped silk blend tee in Marine. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This silk-blend tee has a refined look. The light weight fabric makes this a great layering piece. Also available in “teakwood” (ochre) color.

The Easy Cardigan

Eileen Fisher merino wool cardigan in Hemlock. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I find it’s good to have at least one of these in my seasonal wardrobe…a no-brainer cardigan I can throw on as I’m heading out the door, and not worry that it’s going to fight with the rest of my outfit. Above, this longer cardigan of “responsible” merino wool has an elegant drape, and can easily layer underneath a coat when needed. I’ve shown a cool green “Hemlock” color above but it’s offered in several colors in Misses, Petites and Plus.

Madewell Kent Cardigan in Heather Crimson. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

For a more budget-friendly option, this soft cardigan (in Misses and Plus sizes) is well reviewed (though reviewers suggest to size down). Multiple colors offered, and there’s also a fun striped version.

The Lightweight Jacket

My current search criteria: a solid neutral color, NOT black, and an indoor-outdoor style that’s NOT a blazer.

Chicos vegan suede moto jacket vintage brown. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I have this “vegan suede” jacket on order and have my fingers crossed the color is as it looks here. If so, it should go with just about anything in my Spring palette. For those with cooler palettes, it’s also offered in a gorgeous “Duchess” blue. Offered in Regular sizes up to 22, Petites up to 18P.

Talbots band collar jacket in burgundy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If you prefer a little more structure, here’s a band-collar jacket in a cool burgundy hue. This is a little more polished than an anorak or field jacket, but just as versatile. Offered in Misses, Petites, Plus, and Petites Plus, also in a pretty aqua color.

Sezane Will Jacket in Ecru. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

For that “left bank artist” vibe, this longer button front jacket (with nice big pockets!) is 100% cotton and sustainably made in the E.U. Other colors available too.

Eileen Fisher short wool jacket in Blue Spruce. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Unstructured but elegant, this wool shawl collar jacket is offered in three colors and can dress up or down.

What are your fall wardrobe basics?

Stay in touch.

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22 Comments

  1. Elizabeth
    September 3, 2019 / 5:18 am

    These are great selections for a variety of climates, as well as different style and color profiles. One thing I’ve noticed since your style reset is that in your personal photos you’ve been wearing jeans in one blue rinse or another. Have you looked for different pants and found that part of the process more difficult now that you’re avoiding black? Creating a head-to-toe look without either blue denim or black can be a challenge. I’m hoping you’ll address this sometime in your style/color journey. Thank you for all that you share with us!

    • Susan B
      Author
      September 3, 2019 / 6:47 am

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks! Yes, finding pants in other colors has been challenging. Either they look too corporate, or frumpy, or the colors are too cool. I did find one pair of Caden trousers in a nice mahogany color earlier in the summer; you’ll be seeing those soon.

      • Elizabeth
        September 3, 2019 / 8:23 am

        Susan,
        Thank you so much for your quick answer! I love the Caden trousers and look forward to seeing how you style them. I find doing head to toe in my colors to be a bit of overkill – I’m sure your post will be helpful.

    • September 3, 2019 / 10:33 am

      My understanding when I had my colours done back in the 80s was that it was most important to wear the correct colour palette near your face. I’m a Spring too, but I have no problem wearing black pants as long as my tops are right for my skin tone.

      • Elizabeth
        September 3, 2019 / 12:07 pm

        That’s exactly what I do, but I’m still looking for other options.

      • Lucretia Roletta
        September 3, 2019 / 7:48 pm

        I had my colors done in 80’s and I was an Autumn, no way am I that today. When we age our color change, dramatically for some of us. Colors that used to work for me no longer do.

        • Lisa B
          September 4, 2019 / 9:58 am

          Me too! I was a winter but my skin color has definitely “yellowed” a bit. I can now wear an olive green top and receive compliments on the color. Who knew!

      • Robyn
        September 5, 2019 / 2:37 am

        I had mine done as well. I was a winter. Camel is a favorite color of mine to wear . If it’s paired with black, white or blue next to my face it works.

  2. Carrie
    September 3, 2019 / 5:23 am

    I ordered the Chico’s vegan suede in the camel color too! I tried on a smaller size in the store, the color is true to the picture.

    • Katrinka
      September 3, 2019 / 8:07 am

      Susan, my link to the longer jacket isn’t the right item. What I get is a “Will” jacket in a different color. Thanks.

      • Susan B
        Author
        September 3, 2019 / 8:17 am

        Hi Katrinka, that is the correct jacket. On the right you’ll see an option to select a different color. Thanks!

  3. Lee Rosenthall
    September 3, 2019 / 8:06 am

    This is where the color thing gets confusing for me, Susan. The blue Chico’s jacket looks to my eye like something that would look good on a summer (and possibly a spring), but probably not a winter. And I would think that you’d look great in the “Washed Teal” version of the Talbot’s jacket in a addition to the “Rich Burgundy” one. Would you agree or am I not perceiving these colors correctly?

    Also, I think the link to budget-friendly version of the merino cardigan is going to the EF site – was it supposed to go to Madewell?

    • Susan B
      Author
      September 3, 2019 / 8:22 am

      Hi Lee, not all of the items I’ve shown are in my color palette. Yes, the blue Chico’s jacket could possibly work for a summer (I haven’t seen the jacket in person yet, nor do I have access to a Summer palette.) And there are variations within each season, so someone who is a “Blue Spring” might possibly be able to wear it. And yes, the aqua version of the Talbot’s jacket (if the color isn’t too washed out) could work for a Spring. The Burgundy color would not.

      And I’ve updated the link, sorry about that! Here’s the correct one: https://shopstyle.it/l/7B7x

  4. Rondi
    September 3, 2019 / 8:07 am

    I love the striped tees. I have been browsing Madewell lately but have not purchased yet. I like that you have a choice of 3 different size models to view the piece of clothing you are considering. I also really like the cotton button front jacket. I live in a warm climate but we do need jackets sometimes. In fact jackets are even more important because they are all we need. We don’t really need heavy coats. And cotton sweaters and jackets work best because of the humidity.

  5. Linda
    September 3, 2019 / 4:00 pm

    I have the camel faux suede jacket and absolutely love it. The fit and quality are great, and the color is exactly as shown. It’s a bit too warm to wear it yet, but there will be dozens of ways to style this one. The bright blue doesn’t appeal to me, but there is a spice color that looks interesting.

  6. Jill
    September 3, 2019 / 5:03 pm

    How about a cute denim jacket to go with the striped tops? I think it would look wonderful with a wide-legged pant in a complimentary color. I think a cropped jacket/top with a wider pant is very flattering. Like many of you I’m kind of tired of long over lean!

  7. Sue B
    September 3, 2019 / 6:16 pm

    I prefer to dress in one color with accent accessories to add interest and color pops. I also use shades and tones in clothing so it’s not matching plus texture which seems to make most things more interesting. Nothing like a quirky accessory to lift your spirits up!

  8. laurel
    September 4, 2019 / 4:57 am

    I think some of your new colors (the reds, the blues, not the caramels and browns) would look nice with grey trousers or washed out black jeans. They are softer than black but might be another alternative to blue jeans. And then your black shoes and booties would fit right in. just a thought 🙂

  9. Lisa B
    September 4, 2019 / 9:55 am

    Hi Susan, This is a bit off topic but I am traveling to Rome in October to visit my daughters. I love the viscose jersey EF long sleeve tees for traveling. I am only able to find them in black and white. I’d like to interject some color in my wardrobe and would love another color. Last year I urchased them in the pine green and a burgundy color. I wore them so often they developed the dreaded holes at the bottom. I found the tencell jersey in teal in the EF website and am wondering if it’s the same/similar material as the tencel jersey. The tencel is so comfortable for travel. Thank you!

    • Lisa B
      September 4, 2019 / 10:00 am

      OOPS! Sorry! I meant the viscose jersey is so comfortable for travel.

    • Susan B
      Author
      September 4, 2019 / 10:07 am

      Hi Lisa, it’s hard to say as EF has been changing up some of their fabric compositions to be more sustainable. I did purchase this long-sleeved tencel tee a few weeks ago, and while it’s still been too warm to wear it, the weight and texture should make it an excellent travel piece.

  10. Amy
    September 5, 2019 / 6:40 pm

    Hi Susan,
    As you do your research of companies here in the US that offer color and style consultations, be sure to look up “House of Colour”. They are based in the UK but have numerous consultants all across the US. They are fabulous! They also have their own line of makeup that coordinates with each season and a line of clothing called Kettlewell. I highly recommend them!

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