Every season I like to share a list of closet basics that will provide a strong foundation for the season, and today I’m sharing my 2022 Fall Wardrobe Essentials. While the list doesn’t change much year to year, I’ve updated this post to include fresh recommendations, notes, and links.
It’s important to keep in mind that I don’t encourage dressing strictly with essentials (I certainly don’t). This is also not an overview of fall trends, which are the popular colors, silhouettes, and styles of the moment.
Instead, this list includes the classic building blocks that will make it easier for you, regardless of your tastes or lifestyle, to get dressed throughout fall.
Keep reading for the fall wardrobe essentials to assess your closet for this year. These are the pieces that will ensure your fall closet is both practical and easy to build upon.
2022 Fall Wardrobe Essentials
1. Base Layers
Base layers are fitted layers that can be worn on their own or under cardigans and outerwear. Examples include t-shirts, button downs, and knit tanks, but fitted sweaters with various necklines (v-neck, scoopneck, etc.) fall into this category as well.
These start to become essential in the transitional months (warm days, cool evenings) when layering is a part of daily life, but they’re just as crucial when temperatures drop and we add outerwear.
For your base layers, I recommend sticking to neutrals (white, tan, black, gray). I like to have both cool and warm tones in my wardrobe where possible.
2. Sweaters and Tops
Blouses and sweaters are great standalone pieces to wear with bottoms. Most can also be layered under outerwear as the weather cools off.
There are hundreds of styles, prints, and colors to choose from, so there’s no real right or wrong. This is one area to express your personal style with a pretty floral blouse, dark puff sleeve top, or unique sweater.
I gravitate toward statement tops/sweaters as opposed to simple silhouettes, which works well for my lifestyle since I don’t work in an office. I can dress down these tops with denim and low boots and dress them up with heels and layers for a night out or an event.
If you choose to go this route, keep in mind that more detailed tops can be challenging to layer and tuck into bottoms.
Jeans are part of the everyday uniform for those of us who aren’t working in an office. I have many washes and cuts since my lifestyle allows for mostly casual style.
If you’re choosing just a few pairs for fall, look for a length, wash, and cut that is versatile. A mid-wash, non-distressed, slim straight pair with a finished hem is a great option, and an inseam that hits at your ankle bone should work with most fall shoes.
If you want to add more than one pair to your wardrobe, try your hand at some of the fall 2022 denim trends. I linked only pairs I personally own and recommend below.
4. Non-Denim Bottoms
For days when you’re tired of jeans or want to mix it up, non-denim bottoms are a must. Examples include leather pants, skirts, trousers, slip skirts, printed fall maxi and midi skirts, knit skirts,
Pants are having a major moment right alongside denim, which is a plus if you spend time in a professional environment or simply want to mix it up.
I have this slip skirt in multiple colors and wear it all the time throughout fall. A simple knit skirt like this would look cozy casual with an oversized sweater and sneakers. I just ordered these and these to try my hand at the trouser trend, and I love these wide-leg leather pants for dressing up.
Knee high boots, ankle boots, over-the-knee boots, mid-calf boots, chelsea boots, and lug sole boots (the list goes on!) all have their place, but the right pair for you depends on climate and lifestyle.
Low-heel ankle boots are the essential style for most women because they go with all sorts of fall bottoms and dresses. These are my top pick of the season. The block heel, shaft height, pull on styling, and warm neutral color are incredibly versatile. This pair is similar for smaller budgets.
I also like to have one dressier style on hand for events and date night. This could be a knee-high boot or heeled bootie. Waterproof lug sole boots are a third option to consider if you live somewhere with a wet fall.
Whether you’re sick of boots or its too warm for them, alternative fall shoes such as sneakers, mules, loafers, ballet flats, clogs, and platform heels are great to have on hand. This is an area I overlooked in the past, so I’m just now building my collection out!
If your weekday dress is casual, you may be better off with clogs, platforms, or sneakers.
Fall coats and jackets are “third pieces” that can take your look from good to great while keeping you cozy. There’s everything from blazers to leather jackets, cardigans, bombers, wool coats, and shackets. A few of them lean classic, while others are trendier.
If you’re focused on versatility and longevity, a leather jacket, a wool coat, a single-breasted blazer, and a lightweight jacket (such as an anorak, cardigan, quilted jacket, or jean jacket) is a great quad to focus on.
When shopping for outerwear, keep in mind that you’ll want options in a variety of weights and lengths to ensure you can nail proportions in your outfits (cropped jackets usually pair better with dresses, for example) and dress comfortably for all types of fall weather.
8. Fall Dress
Fall dresses are a workhorse for the season, working for warm transitional days with sandals to early fall days with boots to the holiday season with heels and a coat.
I prefer floral fall dresses pared back to neutral layers and accessories, but if you’re nervous about styling a print, a fall dress in a solid color may be a better choice.
Whether you choose a print or an autumnal color, a midi hemline will work with the widest variety of shoes. See below for a few options I recommend.
9. Neutral Handbag
I recommend gravitating toward darker neutrals (brown, black, cognac) with your fall handbag as these go with the widest variety of colors and prints.
Suede and leather are two textures to look for that will bring a rich, elevated feel to your looks. I rounded up fall 2022 handbags at a variety of price points, if you’re looking for something fresh this season.
Be sure to keep your lifestyle in mind! Crossbody is what most women look for in an everyday bag, but I prefer a tote since I lug around my laptop and an extra layer throughout the week.
Belts are a year-round wardrobe essential, but I’ve included them in my fall essentials list because their purpose goes through the roof this time of year.
Black, brown, and camel belts are often the key ingredient that adds polish to a fall look. In addition to jeans and pants, they pair well over skirts, over dresses to cinch the waist, and with leather shorts early in the season.
Which fall essential are you focused on adding to your wardrobe this season? I’d love to hear how you’re preparing for fall style in the comments. Happy shopping!