Winter Fashion Essentials

Sometimes scheduling has a funny old way of working out, right? After days of beautiful blue skies and too-warm-to-be-normal temperatures, this morning I woke up to a snowy Cleveland. While I can never get used to scraping snow off my car at 5:30 am (although it certainly wakes me up for barre), there is an element of the winter season I think I have got down — winter dressing. Winter style is all about being cozy and chic; however, as all my belongings are in a storage unit in LA, when I came back to Cleveland last winter I was greeted by an empty closet. It wasn’t exactly ideal, but it did give me the chance to start from scratch and build up a collection of wearable basics that perfectly suited my lifestyle and needs.

Upon touching down in Cleveland this winter I was pleasantly surprised to find that all the pieces I had bought last year still fit my style and continue to make me excited at the prospect of wearing them. All I had to do is add a couple of seasonal pieces and fill a couple of holes and now I have a pretty satisfying rotation of outfits. Which is, um, exactly what a “capsule wardrobe” is supposed to entail. So, despite being the girl who used to introduce around 30 new pieces a month to her closet, this year I am committed to slowly curating a wardrobe for all seasons. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE Y’ALL. Anyway, there will be plenty of updates regarding the curated wardrobe as I progress through this process; but, for now, here are my five winter essentials with some handy-dandy links if you wish to add similar pieces to your wardrobe.

A Teddy Bear Coat

Undoubtedly the statement coat of the season, having a teddy bear coat hanging in your closet isn’t just a win for fresh outfit inspiration, it also is a practical day-to-day coat (thank you, fashion gods!). And, this, I am here for. Personally, I like having one in a soft caramel color that lends itself well to an abundance of outfit combinations. Paired with a striped turtleneck and leather pants, corduroy pants and white sneakers, a ladylike floral dress and stacked heels, a chunky sweater and colorful boots or your workout clothes, a teddy bear coat will ensure your winter style is always on point. Now that is a classic mainstay. If you haven’t added one to your coat collection yet, shop some of my favorites below!

A Blanket Scarf

Is there any better feeling in the world than wrapping yourself up in an oversized blanket scarf and embracing your inner Lenny Kravitz? I don’t think so (apart from being in a warm climate so that such an accessory is unnecessary). At the beginning of winter, I purchased this crimson red blanket scarf knowing that it would complement my winter uniform of blacks, browns, and pops of red and I have swaddled myself up in it in Cleveland, Boston, and Oslo. More than just a practical necessity, a blanket scarf has a ton of styling versatility. You can throw it across your shoulders like a shawl and then secure the front remaining half under your coat belt or simply drape it over a structured blazer. For ultimate coziness opt to wear it as a cape by draping it around your back and tucking both sides under a belt in front. While a neutral color will get the most wear, purchasing a colorful or patterned one is an easy way to break up a monochromatic neutral ensemble.

Skinny Black Jeans

This isn’t the most ground-breaking addition here, but I have loved skinny black denim jeans for a very long time and that probably isn’t going to change anytime soon. IT’S COOL. While I am a serious lover of dresses and skirts in all seasons, I still find myself reaching for my black jeans over and over again. The ultimate dress-up, dress-down item, there is almost nothing you can’t pair with these bad boys. Black sneakers and a grey hoodie à la the Scandinavians? Check. Colorful heels and a going out blouse? Check. No matter where I am traveling, I always have a pair of black jeans because I know I can count on them to have all my bases covered (plus no-one can tell how long it has been since I visited a laundromat — win!). Paige Denim has long been my favorite jean brand as they fit so nicely, have a little stretch and, most of all, feel good on the body. Nordstrom has a fantastic selection which also means that — if you are lucky — you can find the ideal pair in Nordstrom Rack. Here I am wearing the Paige Transcend – Verdugo Ultra Skinny Jeans and I have previously had the ankle version with ripped knees and raw hems. Here are a few of my other favorites…

A Chic Leather Clutch

I have been following Fount — a Cleveland-based leather goods brand — since I first saw them at the Cleveland Flea a couple of years ago. Owning one of their glorious products had been on my radar for a while both because I fell for their high-quality, timeless pieces and I love to support local companies. My boyfriend picked up on my not-so-subtle hints and gifted me The Finley Clutch in Cocoa for my birthday towards the end of last year. Immediately it made an impact on my closet as it is the perfect lightweight bag that can take me from day to night while remaining chic. Previously I would usually skip over considering clutches (generally preferring a gigantic Mary-Poppins-esque item to cart around everything but the kitchen sink), but it turns out that a smaller bag necessitates only carrying that which is essential — a glorious revelation! This is a bag that I know I will have in my closet for years to come and I look forward to the leather becoming even more personalized with age.

Suede Knee-High Boots

One of the best shoe purchases I have ever made (I know, bold claim), these Sam Edelman suede boots are a definite staple in my fall/winter closet. I got them for my birthday two years ago and they are still going strong, bringing me joy whenever I get the chance to put them on. In fact, I have worn them so much that I recently had to — for the first time ever — get the heels replaced. A knee-high silhouette is a classic style that lends itself perfectly to jeans, skirts, and dresses. The suede fabric adds a luxe, lush vibe to any outfit while the slouchy structure keeps them fresh and contemporary. Wow, I love these boots. My particular pair is sold out but I have popped some similar styles below all of which can be styled with long skirts and a coat or slim jeans and a blazer for a more relaxed look.

Photos by Mel Costanzo

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