As this article is first being published, we’re just a few short days away from the official arrival of fall here in the northern hemisphere. Thus, we’ve put together a guide on how best to get your wardrobe ready for the change in seasons, as well as a list of more great buys for fall (and winter).
Before we delve into some more specific recommendations of what to add to your style arsenal, let’s first go over some tips for how to whip your closet into shape.
How to Get Your Wardrobe Ready for Fall
As a general rule, most men will likely have to spend less time “rotating their wardrobes” as the women in their lives (though exceptions on both sides do exist, of course). Especially for the man who has developed a well-functioning capsule wardrobe, many of the same pieces can be worn across multiple seasons. With that said, even the most versatility-conscious among us will probably have accrued a few questionable items over the past six months to a year; as such, while you might not be bringing bins of garments in and out of storage, this transitional period from warmer to colder weather is an opportune time to give your closet a bit of a tune-up.
This wardrobe readjustment shouldn’t take you more than a few hours, if your items are already decently well-organized–if not, of course, this will also be a good time for you to get any large-scale messes back in order; for more help with this, consult our guide to Wardrobe Maintenance Essentials, or have a look at some helpful Tech Tools. Assuming things are under control however, the goal here should simply be to make an honest assessment of what it is that you regularly wear, what’s worn less commonly that still has a well-defined purpose or function (for example, a black-tie outfit), and what items fit neither of these categories. In this latter case, you can separate garments into the further categories of things unworn because they’re in need of repair (or are irreparable), and things that no longer harmonize with your personal style. Remember to be open to discarding things–don’t just hold onto items if all they’re doing is taking up space–and you’ll find that sorting into categories will make this process go by smoothly and efficiently.
Here are a few simple steps that should help you to review and edit your existing wardrobe. At the end of said steps, you’ll be better acquainted with what in your closet is ready for fall, and what you could stand to remove.
A Simple Guide to Wardrobe Maintenance
Place each of the items in your wardrobe into one of five sections: Toss, Clean, Repair/Tailor, Consign/Donate, and Ready to Wear.
- Toss: Simply put, anything with holes or permanent stains has outlived its usefulness. Nothing neutralizes the effect of an otherwise sharp outfit like the sight of a worn-out garment like a shirt with yellow underarms, a tie with a prominent grease stain, or a sock full of holes. If it can’t be cleaned or repaired (see below), it’s time to toss.
- Clean: If a garment has more manageable stains or blemishes, it may be able to be brought back to life by a reputable dry cleaner. Try to remember the age of the stain, as well as the materials involved; the more information that you can give to the cleaner, the better. Remember that clothes should be dry cleaned only when absolutely necessary, so if the garment in question just needed a regular at-home laundering, take care of that, as well. Be sure to read your tags!
- Repair/Tailor: If you’ve been refraining from wearing an item because of a missing button, a frayed cuff, or an open seam, take the initiative to get the item properly repaired. This can be done at home, of course, if you’re confident enough in your own sewing abilities, but if the nature of the repair is more advanced, a professional might be better suited for the job. Similarly, if you’ve got a garment that’s only slightly too big or too small on you (generally, within one size in either direction), a quality tailor should be able to alter the piece to fit you properly. Fit is the most important aspect of any wardrobe, after all, so do what you can to get all of your clothes looking neat and trim.
- Consign/Donate: There are a few key reasons to donate some of your garments, assuming they’re still in good enough condition not to end up in the “toss” pile. Firstly, if the garment in question no longer harmonizes with the sort of wardrobe you’ve developed for yourself (let’s say, for example, a durable pair of baggy cargo shorts?), it’s a good candidate for donation. Also, if you’ve got clothing that no longer fits you by a factor of multiple sizes–either too small or too big–or if it’s so obviously dated to a particular era that it couldn’t be worn outside of a Halloween costume, it may be time to donate these items, as well. Feel free to keep one powder-blue leisure suit on hand if you’ve got a 1970s-themed party planned, but otherwise, say goodbye to examples of extreme trends. As a bonus, the money you could earn from consigned clothes and the tax deduction for your donations can be put towards buying pieces that will better complement and your existing wardrobe!
- Ready to Wear: After you’ve put everything else into one of the other four categories, what you should have remaining are the items that you already wear frequently and that you know make you look great. Just to be sure that these items are in fact being worn as much as you think, try one of our favorite style hacks, and use the directional alignment of your clothes hangers to act as a visual shorthand for what’s being worn most. If you get through the season without wearing some items, they might be able to be gotten rid of the next time you streamline your wardrobe.
As simple as that, your current wardrobe has been primed for the oncoming fall season! Here are a few additional notes:
- Any items that you’ve decided to keep for sentimental reasons should be placed in long-term storage (and stored in a space not used for your clothes).
- If the above steps are difficult for you to tackle alone, ask a friend or close family member to offer their opinions.
Now that you’ve gone through your wardrobe and eliminated what you won’t be wearing, however, you’d be even better suited for the new season by acquiring a few new garments. We’ve provided a list of 11 Must-Haves for Fall in the past, but here are some additional recommendations for autumnal attire.
10 Great Buys for Fall (& Winter!)
What follows is a list of 10 items (or in some cases, categories of items) that we believe will bring your fall wardrobe to the next level–and will keep you looking stylish through the winter.
1. Quality Outerwear (Trench Coats, Peacoats, Waxed-Cotton Jackets, & Leather Jackets)
As fall brings a chill in the air, you’re going to want to have a few options to layer on top of your outfits for added warmth. Additionally, there is always a chance that Mother Nature might throw in other elements, like rain or early snow. Whatever the case may be, a variety of choices in outerwear will be your best bet; as such, we recommend a few different styles, including the trench coat, peacoat, waxed cotton jacket, and leather jacket.
2. More Leather Goods (Dress Boots, Bags, Watch Bands, etc.)
Fall is perhaps the ideal season for various leather accessories, given that their various shades of tan, brown, and red echo the hues of the foliage. As such, now may be the perfect time to take the plunge on that pair of Chelsea boots you’ve been eyeing for months, step up your business ensembles with a new briefcase, or give your wrist a subtle hint of rich color with a leather watch band. Of course, the leather accessories in the Fort Belvedere shop are worthwhile additions, as well!
3. Cotton Flannel Button-Up Shirts
As with warm leather hues, there’s no better time than fall to break out the tartans, plaids, and other checked patterns, especially when it comes to shirts. Wearing a subtle check with a typical dress shirt is great for the office, but for more casual days at home or out and about, nothing says fall like a soft cotton flannel button-up in a plaid pattern. While a large red-and-black buffalo plaid may make you look like Paul Bunyan or the Brawny Man, there are more subtle ways to wear plaid, as well.
4. A Wool Fedora or Trilby
Our previous article on Fall Must-Haves spotlighted flat caps as an ideal piece of headwear for the colder seasons, and this remains true. For a slightly more formal touch, however, go with a hat featuring a full brim all around–namely, a fedora or trilby. Once you find the right type of hat for your face shape, select one in a warm and sturdy wool felt, and you’ll have a topper to last you for many falls and winters to come.
5. Rugby Shirts
Returning to shirts for a moment, another alternative that’s even less formal than the button-up (but still more formal than a simple t-shirt or crew-neck shirt) is the rugby shirt–sort of a long-sleeved sibling to the classic polo. Find one or two of these with a well-built collar and a classic striped design, and you’ll be able to channel your inner preppy this fall.
For the particularly crisp fall days, just a piece of outerwear may not be enough to keep you warm. In such cases, having a quality scarf around your neck (tied as you like it) can be just the thing. Also, even if you don’t feel the need to be fully wrapped up, having a scarf along to provide an accent to your coat works just as handsomely. Available in a wide variety of materials, weaves, and styles, there’s a type of scarf for every man–and we’ve got a great selection available at Fort Belvedere!
7. A Camel-Hair Sports Coat or Overcoat
While perhaps no fabric is better suited for fall than a good wool tweed (preferably in a checked pattern like houndstooth), another option that’s somewhat overlooked is a jacket made from high-quality camel hair. Warm, sturdy, and usually in a tan color that complements fall wardrobes well, camel-hair sports coats are a welcome addition to any fall wardrobe. Consider an overcoat in camel hair, as well!
8. Dark Denim Jeans
Though jeans are often too informal for the wardrobe combinations of a gentleman–at least, when their fit is too loose, their color is too light, or their condition is too distressed–a good pair of well-fitted dark denim can act as a staple item for many smart-casual or even business casual outfits. Pair your dark jeans with one of your new rugby shirts and a leather jacket, and you’re equally ready for a walk in the countryside or a Sunday brunch. For an old-fashioned touch, you can pinroll them, too!
9. Cardigan Sweaters
Our previous post on must-haves extolled the virtues of lightweight knitted sweaters, and we’re following up on that point here, with a specific shout-out to the cardigan style. The cardigan’s buttoned front gives it a slightly different look from pullover styles, and this extra element of vertical detailing makes it look especially smart when worn under a sports coat, or even with a full suit. Zippered sweaters will give you the full Mister-Rogers look (which is perfectly fine, should you want it!), but the cardigan strikes a good balance between sporty and professorial.
10. Odd Trousers (in Different Fabrics & Patterns)
The final item on this list echoes the previous list’s mention of corduroys, in that it can never hurt to have a few other pairs of smart-casual trousers in your wardrobe, to provide some additional variety among the jeans, khakis, and cords. Whether you opt for cotton flannels in a warm fall color (or the classic solid gray), or wool-cashmere blends in a small check, you’ll be glad to have some more options at the ready, to keep your lower half just as well-outfitted as your upper.
In broad strokes, remember that a well-executed fall wardrobe takes advantage of textures, layers, earth tones, and soft, warm fabrics; for more advice on matching these effectively, consult this guide. Start by cleaning and organizing your closet, then move on to acquiring some of the recommended garments above. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be ready to attend any fall party, hayride, or bonfire in style!