How to Prepare Your Wardrobe for Fall

prepare your wardrobe for fall

No matter where you live or how hot it still is, September always evokes feelings of a new season.  It’s back to school, back to the grind and time to bid the lazy days of summer goodbye.  One of the reasons I like living in a seasonal part of the country is that our weather changes every few months.  Just as I become tired of one season a fresh one is being ushered in.  I’m still wearing sandals and my summer clothes, but I do know that cooler weather is on the way.

Getting ready for a new season yourself?  Take a look at my tips on how to prepare your wardrobe for fall.

How to Prepare Your Wardrobe for Fall

#1- Reflect

First, it’s time to review.  Before I step into a store with a client, I always take a moment to get my bearings with the current status of client’s wardrobe, life, goals, changes and style preferences.  A whole year has gone by, you don’t want to hit the stores without a little reflection.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  1. What did you like about your style last year?  What did you find challenging?
  2. What were your favorite pieces?
  3. Even if you don’t know how to change what you didn’t like about your wardrobe, what would you like to see be different?
  4. How has your life changed in the past year?  Do any of these changes require a change in style or wardrobe?
  5. What are your goals for the next 12 months?
  6. What purchases from last fall didn’t get worn?  What can you learn from these mistakes?
  7. How has your body changed in the past 12 months?
  8. What is most important about your wardrobe?  What do you hope it will do for you this fall?
  9. What stores worked well?  What stores failed you?

#2- Prepare for a closet edit

Closet edits can be tiring, time consuming, yet liberating at the same time.  I always tell clients to keep their plans light the day the day I come to help them go through things.  I tell them this not only because edits can be physically demanding but because they can be emotionally demanding too.  This isn’t the case for everyone, but I make this suggestion because it is impossible for me to know.  Some clients feel energized and lighter and some feel emotionally spent from letting go.

Set aside time for this process and do it in a way that creates success.  Have large bags on hand for donations.  Know where you plan on sending the donations, like a local church or salvation army for less expensive things, a consignment pile, people in mind you can give things to, etc..  Have a plan in place for tailoring if needed.

#3- Ready, set, purge

Last year I attempted the Marie Kondo style of organizing and, I have to say, I did find it helpful.  Read my experience here.  And I also followed it up with a post on closet purge regret that is also important to read.  One thing I don’t necessarily agree with is purging all at once.  What I prefer to do is go through the items at the end of the season and take inventory.  I look at the things I owned from the season that I didn’t wear.  I gave them a season to prove if they were worth holding onto.  If they didn’t get worn, they go.  Next, I look at the incoming season and I don’t just purge.  Instead, I get rid of the things that clearly need to go for whatever reason.  Then I look at the things I own for upcoming season and decide if I want to give them another go.  The items I keep but eventually want to replace go on “life support” with a plan that I will get rid of until I find suitable replacements.  I prefer to do it this way because I am in the right headspace to let go of things from the last season while also using the time to make a shopping plan for the future.  When the end of winter rolls around next year I will go through my fall items and do the same thing to them that I am doing with my summer clothes now.

#4- Identify the missing pieces

Preparing your wardrobe a new season isn’t just an opportunity to get rid of things, it is also helpful in figuring out your needs.  Shopping for most women is an arduous, time consuming process that needs to be successful.  Few of us have the luxury of just shopping all the time.  Therefore, it is important to go into it with a clear head and a list of needs.  As you go through your closet, make note of the pieces that need to be replaced.  Figure out what you may be missing to make your closet more cohesive.  Write these things down, keep a list in your phone and consider doing some reconnaissance work online before you go shopping.  This way when you hit the stores you will be prepared.

Lastly, consider trying to make some outfits with what is currently in your fall wardrobe to better help you identify what you might be missing from your closet.  The is a surefire way to drill down what you need most.

#5- Understand your lifestyle and the climate you live in

When you live in NYC you need to shop differently.  Most of us don’t drive regularly, we live in a terribly inclement place, we need to think about things like owning several coats, waterproof boots, snow boots, gloves of varying thicknesses, hats, good walking shoes, roomy bags, and so on.  It’s just a way of life here.  I didn’t realize how different we were until the time I told my mom and sister to make sure they brought warm hats with them when we had plans to be out all day in the winter.  Living in suburban New Jersey, they weren’t even sure they had what they needed.  For them, going from the garage to the car and to where they need to go doesn’t require the level of layers I do.  Then, when my friend from Seattle was visiting during one of our worst polar vortexes, I was shocked that she only had a flimsy pair of ballerina flats with her.  As luck would have it, I had several pairs of warm boots and we were the same size.

The perfect picture of autumn often shows images of changing leaves and warm wool sweaters, but that’s just not the reality for everyone.  You not only want to pay mind to the lifestyle you lead when buying clothes, but where you live your life.  If you have lived in the same place for some time, you’re likely quite accustomed to what your fall will look like and what you will really need to get through it.  However, if you are new to an area and aren’t prepared for the weather that is to come, trust me, you don’t want to be caught off guard.  Most importantly, you want to get in on these things as early as possible.  Buying snow boots in the height of winter is similar to buying an air conditioner during a heat wave.  Good luck.

#6- Your organizing and wardrobe management tools

Lastly, I am going to share some of my favorite wardrobe and organizing tools to keep your clothing looking great.  As you prepare your wardrobe for fall these items will definitely come in handy.

  • Kelly

    Great tips thanks Bridgette. Those questions in the reflection section are very helpful!

  • Patricia

    I’m planning on following up with a closet edit. I’ve bought very little over the past year due to a planned move to a downsized condo but I still have a lot of clothes. I’ve found when I’ve used seasonal capsules that I only actually need maybe 60 % of my clothes.
    One technique I use is to give all my little worn clothing a tryout. I’ll pack it to change into post workout at the gym. If I don’t like it when I’m actually forced to wear it, it goes in the donate bag when I get home. Instead of keeping it just in case ….

    • tgchi13

      What a great final edit – will want to wear this if I *have* to!

  • tgchi13

    As you go through your closet, make note of the pieces that need to be replaced…you know that sentence brought me back to one of your first ever suggestions:. Is this good enough that I would buy it again today.

    • Alicen

      I like this phrase!

  • TerriC

    I can’t help but smile over the climate thing. In our region (mid Georgia) it is now in the low 90’s. It’s hard to shop for sweaters and jackets this time of year but so necessary when we’ll want them later in the season or even for winter months ahead and all we’ll find is swimsuits! I watched girls walking into a nicer store yesterday after I’d shopped and one lovely lady was so ready for fall. She had on her boots and two sweaters and a big scarf…And I was sitting there watching her, melting away under air conditioning wondering how on earth she could stand it.

    I really enjoyed this post. I’d actually just done a closet edit last month and a big shopping trip earlier this month to refresh and renew. I’m hoping this week to get time to go through all the pieces I purchased and set them up with accessories and shoes and such and figure out what goes with what. I’ll return anything I see definitely isn’t going to work. I’d hoped to do this last week but we had a visit from Irma and then a week long power outage as an encore. Ugh.

    • Oh dear, I hope Irma’s wrath wasn’t that difficult for you. I think it can be funny in warmer climates when the weather drops to like 65. People dress like it is 30 degrees just because they are craving the opportunity to wear cold weather clothes. 65 degree weather we are still walking around in sandals around here. When you do your closet edit, also make sure to look out for glaring holes. These sessions can be very helpful with that too.

  • I’m starting to realize my style is changing. It makes sense as I’m in a transition period; my youngest is preparing to start college next year, I’ll be 39 (so nearing 40! yay!!) and I am not excited by my wardrobe much anymore. I recently made a simple charcoal grey ponte midi skirt (I sew a lot of my clothes but buy some stuff too) and purchased a bold striped pant and these two pieces *really* make my heart sing. And they were “out of the box” for me from my previous style. So it’s time to reassess! I know I really need to do a closet purge — it’s been awhile!

    • Good for you. Happy to your almost 40th! Don’t let anyone tell you that turning 40 is bad, it’ amazing. I’m 3 years in and wouldn’t go back to my 30’s for anything. I think it is great that you are really getting in touch with yourself and notice a natural evolution to one’s style.

      • Oh never! I have friends who are down about it and no way is that me! Turning 30 was so exhilarating! I was more than happy to leave the 20s behind!
        Thanks!!