Style

A Fall Uniform

A Uniform for Fall

What’s your uniform these days? For half the year, mine is a cozy sweater, blue jeans and classic sneakers. Every fall, I’m on the hunt for great versions of these pieces…

A Uniform for Fall

My friend Kendra, who is my style crush in many ways, put together this easy look. The sweater is neutral — so she can wear it all fall and winter. (Also, tucking the front of a sweater into high-rise jeans looks cute.)

A Uniform for Fall

Stan Smith sneakers, with their iconic 70s design, always look great, and I love this pair’s touch of navy.

A Uniform for Fall

Kendra layered everything with a black duster coat. “A duster is a wardrobe workhorse,” she says, “It feels equally appropriate dressed up or with sneakers. You can layer it over a sweater this fall and throw it over a dress next spring.”

A Uniform for Fall

For the base of a fall uniform, here are five pretty sweaters: cable, honeycomb, cardigan, ribbed and turtleneck.

What are you wearing these days? Do you have anything on rotation?

(Photos by Seth Smoot for Cup of Jo. Modeling and styling by Kendra Smoot. This post is sponsored by Nordstrom, a retailer we have loved for years. They always offer free shipping and free returns. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that help support Cup of Jo.)

  1. I have been the complete opposite lately! I’ve been watching a lot of Sex and the City and also, Younger (which I recommend) and I think they’ve been influencing my look lately. I can’t get enough patterns, colors, shapes, etc.! Channeling my inner Carrie, for sure. Embrace the maximilism!

  2. Christine says...

    can you give me the info for the sunglasses? thanks! xx

  3. She looks like Bridget Bardot!

  4. Abby says...

    Love this! Jo, is Kendra’s hair longer in the front than the back? Can you attest to her current hairstyle? I have a similar color/texture to my hair and just booked a haircut next week. I’m ever so bored by my all-one-length and feel like it’s dragging me down…I want to keep some length and don’t want cut that makes me feel mom-ish. Any other inspiration photos you can share? Thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ll ask her for sure! the last time i went to the hair salon (little axe in williamsburg) the owner Coby told me that slightly longer hair in the front is a really cool, current look. so i’d definitely go for that if you’re into it!

  5. These are great, cozy outfits! I’m inspired to add a neutral sweater to my wardrobe. I find myself transitioning summer dresses by pulling a sweater over them for a layered look. Then I pair it with warm leggings and flats. It allows me to feel feminine, but more importantly comfortable! ;)

    http://www.thewefiles.com

  6. I love casual, comfortable style like this. Sweaters and jeans are staples in my ten-item-wardrobe. I posted it on my blog, if you’d like to see!

  7. Julie says...

    I feel like a lot of the clothing posts on here are more casual. I have to wear business/professional to work and find that I can’t get as creative. Would love to see some more business/professional (no jeans) ideas!

    • claudia098 says...

      I agree. I’m the boss in my organization, so I try to set the tone. More business-friendly would be great, if possible. Thanks!

    • heather says...

      I recently had to overhaul my wardrobe after baby #3, as my hips are never going to fit in my pre-twin clothes again, and rather than going straight to J Crew and buying whatever Jenna Lyons recommends, I’ve taken some time to sit back and really look at what women wear to work. I feel like more and more women are pushing against expectations for how women dress at work: because we are rejecting fast fashion? suffering from decision fatigue and adopting a uniform? being ourselves? I’ve also noticed that the women who don’t try to be sexy are way more chill about what they wear, and *no one seems to care*. I haven’t fully formed my thoughts around this, and I’m interested in what other people have observed about changing dynamics in women’s work wear alongside changing dynamics in women’s work roles. I especially loved this on refusing to follow rules about what one ought not wear:

      https://warningcurvesahead.com/2016/06/04/24-things-women-over-30-should-wear/

    • B says...

      Oh my goodness. I had this problem too. Blogs in general are pretty casual. Joanna does a good job of showing stuff that she actually wears and such , but as an employee in D.C. I can’t wear a jersey dress expect for the weekends. I actually made a simple blog based on just women’s work wear that you could actually wear to the office. It’s called Women Work Wear and it’s just a stream of outfit ideas for the 9-5!

    • Julie says...

      To clarify, I’m a teacher at a college preparatory private school. And we are literally required to wear business/professional (and modest is key) outfits.

  8. Amy says...

    Glad I’m not the only one wearing skinny jeans and sweaters all. the. time.
    I have to say I’m surprised by the multiple comments around the body types featured because the Week of Outfits posts are featuring women with all kinds of body types on women who aren’t models by trade.
    I am a slim build, no boobs (nearly) and narrow hips and it’s surprising how much negativity people express about it- I try not to get offended that people are offended by that body type, haha!

    • Tessa says...

      Sorry if you feel that anyone is being negative about your body, we don’t mean to offend! It’s just kind of a no-brainer that slim women look great in everything. Listen to us: you look good in everything!!! I am surprised that you see a diverse range of bodies on here-I sure don’t. I would love to see more middle-size women. We truly cannot just look at the model and see ourselves. I love the skinny gals AND the thick gals, but I definitely do not fit into either category!

  9. Caz says...

    I’ve been wearing something very similar lately except with black skinny jeans, a burnt orange/rust jumper (https://goo.gl/ezRwoX) and olive green slip-on Vans.

    Re: different body shapes, as commented below. Maybe this look could be adapted with a different cut of jumper/sweater – i.e. a slimmer fit through the body or a different neckline (v-neck, boat-neck, polo neck), and whichever cut of jeans you prefer? Or a tank top with an over-sized cardigan so that you don’t look too boxy, as you still have a defined waist.

  10. Courtney says...

    I agree with the others who have voiced that they’d love to see a diverse range of body types. The Every Girl does a really nice job of this whenever they do fashion posts. They always feature a range of options for different body types. With that being said, they are a different type of blog but people may find some good inspiration there for style on different body types.

  11. Nectar says...

    i’ve worn my high waisted jeans everyday. Stan Smiths, or my Nikes, and a mock neck top or button down.

    Just recently got chelsea boots, and I’m starting to find jumpsuits on sale from the summer that I plan on incorporating into fall and winter looks.

    and a long bomber jacket <3

  12. Tyler says...

    does anyone else feel like high rise jeans are squeezing the life out of them? they give me a stomachache, haha. even the not so tight ones just hit me at a really uncomfortable place on my belly.

    • Nectar says...

      I had an issue with this but I’ve worn the urban outfitter’s twig high waist jeans and it has enough stretch so that i dont feel like a sausage.

    • Yes! that happens to me too. I wear skinny jeans nearly all winter because its so cold here. So last year, I thought I would mix it up a little and got some high waisted ones. Then I discovered I don’t like wearing them! they feel uncomfortable on my belly. Glad its not just me!

  13. Sera says...

    As a very busty woman, cable sweaters (and button ups for that matter) are, unfortunately really tough to pull off without drowning my waist entirely. It would be awesome to see a round up of ‘uniforms’ that compliment a variety of body types as this outfit, as classic as it is, would look very, very different on my hourglass figure.

    • Liz C says...

      Agreed! I feel like all of the “uniform” suggestions are for tall/slender gals.

    • Have definitely had this thought before! I really love A Cup of Jo but feel like hour glass/busty forms (such as my own ;) are rarely featured.

    • Danielle says...

      i feel the same! the styles i’m drawn to (very much the looks shown here) do not work if you’ve got a full bust. my mum has always told me to wear a v-neck or open collar, but the choice in v-neck sweater are never as good!

  14. Sharon in Scotland says...

    She looks lovely, but she is tall and very slim, with no tummy and small boobs, nothing I can relate to!

    • I was just thinking the same thing!

    • Emilie says...

      Same! I like the fashion but would love to see more variety in the body types featured (already doing great with that in the A Week in Outfits posts). This is hard look for most people to pull off, but it looks great on Kendra.

    • Jill Palumbo says...

      I look nothing like the model, but I have found several sweaters that are flattering and jeans can fit any type. I actually found the duster on line in plus sizes but didn’t like the color. I wear jeans, a nice shirt/sweater and clogs/boots all winter long. I guess what I’m saying, is that I don’t think you have to be model thin to adapt this style to your own figure.

  15. I thought at first that these were vintage photos from the 70s. With Kendra’s long, loose hairstyle and the wood/paneled-looking wall I was convinced!

  16. Lovely fall uniform! I’m all about the sweaters :P – My fall uniform consists of brown mid-calf lace up boots, skinny jeans in grey or a dark wash, a striped or grey t-shirt, and a dark grey (almost black) cable knit sweater I got last year that I’m still in love with!

    Like others have said, I love that high-rise jeans are really coming back–and as was mentioned in a COJ post a little while back, they really show off your butt in all the right ways! Ever since that post I’ve been meaning to get a pair! :P

  17. Sydney says...

    Kendra reminds me so much of Amy Landecker.

  18. heather says...

    Another important question for Fall:

    What do we think about fedoras? Can I wear it with a trench coat or is that too Private Eye?

  19. I’m so glad high rise jeans are back. A lot of us moms end up sitting on the floor a lot and it’s nice to know I’m covered back there.

  20. Cynthia says...

    I wear cardigan and pullover sweaters with both slacks, jeans, and skirts.
    I wear clogs or boots with jeans in the fall, although I do have a pair of gold leather slip-on sneakers from 9 West. The jeans, sweater, and sneakers look can be adapted for everyone’s body shape. I have my own style, as should everyone. I know what works and what doesn’t, and I can admire an attractive garment or outfit even if it won’t work for me, or else I can find something similar that will work.

  21. I love this look! Especially with the coat. You look amazing! I’ll definitely be trying it out soon. Thanks for sharing!

    x. Cattleya

    alittlecattleya.com

  22. heather says...

    Northwest COJ readers: I am headed to Seattle for a work trip in early November and I’m trying to figure out what shoes to bring. I’ll need shoes for work, but for after-hours I could use some advice. I assume it will be wet, and also cold. I will probably be walking a lot, and would like something somewhat stylish. Yesterday when browsing around online it was all about the white sneakers like the ones pictured here, but white sneakers make my size 10 feet look enormous. Any suggestions?

    • Keeley says...

      I would pick black ankle boots, either slip on or lace-up ones. I grabbed a fairly inexpensive pair 2 winters ago (not even leather but sturdy synthetic from Target) and they are still going strong! And they go with pretty much everything – nicer pants, dresses, jeans, etc. I took a trip to NYC and walked all over in them, so if you make sure you get comfy ones!

    • mosey says...

      I would go with low heeled booties. They’re stylish, comfortable, waterproof (mostly) and can be dressed up or down. :)

    • Emily says...

      Yes to ankle boots! As a PNWer and a fellow large foot-haver, I wear black leather (NOT suede!) ankle booties with a low heel through most of the rainy winter. They keep my feet dry because honestly, it’s mostly light rain around here, not downpours, and low heel is essential for making my feet not look too big… unfortunately not able to pull off the flat Chelsea/beetle boot look. They get a little worn being exposed to the elements but it’s part of the charm ;) Enjoy Seattle!

    • Kadija says...

      If it’s really rainy, what about some of those ankle wellies that look like Chelsea boots? They’re usually in black, and they don’t look big and bulky. I figure you could dress them up or down and look chic without being overdone (which I’ve heard is sort of “the way” in Seattle…I’m in WV though so don’t quote me haha!). Enjoy your trip, Heather!

    • Sherri says...

      It’s been wet and somewhat balmy in Seattle with temps in the upper 50’s. We’re definitely feeling the global warming with our unusually warm temps. Dress in layers and definitely skip the white sneakers. They’ll be dingy in minutes and you’ll really stand out as a tourist. If you like the look of sneakers, consider a pair of all black nike running shoes (big in Europe) or any other solid color running sneaker. They look cute worn with either dresses, skirts or leggings. Bonus – you can run in them! Seattle has great running and walking trails! Frye makes a darling leather slip-on sneaker and Tom’s canvas slip on sneaker is a cool affordable option.

  23. Lauren says...

    I just got back from Italy and I noticed all the beautiful Italian girls are wearing some form of this outfit, but with high tops! Of course, topped off with gorgeous, glossy brown hair. I’ll have to work on that one :)

  24. Awads says...

    i’m still all about the flannel shirt, skinny jeans, and tall frye boots. As soon as the weather gets chilly, i can no longer abide going sockless! it’s a cute look, but i needs me some socks! (still not taking to the high-rise jeans. too 90s for me!)

    • Amy says...

      Agreed! Ankle boots or chelsea boots or something! But NOT bare feet, brrr!

  25. Ann says...

    I find this sneaker look really hard to pull off with this type of jean. I can’t. It has to be a flat or boot for me.

  26. I wear pretty much the same outfit, though most of the times I have to change my beloved Stan Smith for boots because here it rains a lot! By the way, do you know that you can customize your Stan Smiths on Adidas Webstite to create your very own pair? I made mine with golden touches :)
    xx,
    E.
    http://www.theslowpace.com

  27. shopgirl says...

    In my home town every second girl is wearing Stan Smith sneakers right now… :-))

  28. Laura C. says...

    I have embraced the idea of a season uniform. I would love to have a collection of grey sweaters, blue jeans and ankle boots.
    I would like to say, about modelling and body types: yes it’s true, Kendra looks really fine, but I think that this post is about style, and Kendra is showing hers. It is not her fault nor her merit to be tall and skinny and having those long legs. She is as she is, and I can wear the same outfit having thicker thighs and love handles; still it is a question of style.

    After years of wondering I have reached the conclusion: style is really a manner, a way of being, and not fitting into skinny jeans.

  29. Rachael says...

    The Stan Smiths are cool but EVERYONE has them. They’re a staple in Sydney.
    I’d recommend white Spring Courts. They are super cute and flattering AND the comfiest pair of shoes I’ve ever owned due to the rubber sole.

    Oh, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono wore them on their wedding day so they’re tres cool.

  30. D. H. says...

    So beautiful and simple. What size is she usually, and what size did she take in the sweater?

  31. shannon says...

    kendra is a babe
    love this look

  32. Laura says...

    I just got back from Paris and swore after 4 days there that if I saw another pair of Stan Smiths I’d slit my wrists. I generally agree that Parisians can do no wrong style-wise, but when a shoe is that ubiquitous, I think it’s jumped the shark. If you’re looking for a different sneaker brand still embraced by the French, I noticed Veja sneakers were also having a moment (and they claim to be somewhat eco-friendly).

  33. Tari says...

    This looks exactly like how I dressed in High School in the early 90’s! Except I wore K Swiss sneakers. I love all the 1990’s stuff that is back!

  34. Totally digging this look! I love that sweater and the fact that it is slightly cropped. Then, you paired it with sneakers… so just won me over right there and then!

    Abby of Life in the Fash Lane

  35. –I’m stripe-crazy! And still on the hunt for the perfect striped tee–not too fitted, not too baggy (most perfect tees still look too drapey and baggy to me).
    –a striped sweater
    –heather or olive green cardigan
    –a good pair of blue jeans
    –utility jacket
    –olive green rain boots
    –a black scoop neck bodysuit
    –everyday shoes…I have no idea, I’ve been wearing white native shoes all summer and can’t figure what to transition too…last year I wore purple hightop sneakers

  36. sarah says...

    Totally love your blog but sincerely, all your models are so skinny, lean, and tall! No one looks like this (except for you Jo and one of my other friends!). yay for the posts that show clothes meant for different body types.

    • sarah says...

      I guess I was a little harsh! you have totally featured other body types. I support that!

    • Caitlin says...

      Hi Jo! I actually was just having a similar thought. I love your fashion posts, but as a mid-sized lady with thicker thighs, I find that it’s hard to find looks that translate well to my body type. It’s certainly not your responsibility to cater to all body types, and for sure I know plenty of long and lean ladies who could wear the styles you post to a T. That said, I feel like you would do a really good job of putting together that kind of round-up and I would be super-excited to see more mid-sized fashion presence. Thanks so much for all you do!

    • Lin says...

      I agree! I love this blog, and I love this outfit, but I’m pear-shaped, so this skinny-jean with crop-top look would not work for me, sadly. :(

    • heather says...

      I’ve recently been gorging on interviews with Michelle Obama, both because I’m kind of depressed she will be leaving the White House soon, and because every single interview makes me want to read another. Anyway, one lesson to learn from Michelle is that we should focus on STYLE, not FASHION, and that STYLE is extremely personal. I think this piece – like so many on COJ, which is why I love COJ – is about one person’s style. COJ has featured different body types and different styles. Take a moment and delight in the fact that you get to be you and have your own sense of style.

    • Laura says...

      A lot of people look like this.

      Also, this is so basic in the most fabulous way – literally just jeans with a sweater and sneakers. My body type is not as lean looking as the (beautiful) person featured on this post but it’s also one of my go-to outfits.

      There are other Beauty Uniform posts that feature different, equally stylish women! Great to check out.

  37. H says...

    what a lovely and simple outfit, this is absolutely my go-to uniform :) i own jeans, sweaters, and t-shirts in bulk. i never used to be a sneakers-wearer because i loved the more delicate look of flats and oxfords but they pinched my feet to the point of no return, and now i may never go back! i wear vans slip-ons during spring and fall. black canvas is so versatile, and white leather is both a pop of fresh and pretty much waterproof. i have always struggled to like the way i look in boots, so winter is an especially chilly time for me. i recently bought a pair of vans sk8 classic high-tops, which feel like ankle boots and I can wear them with warm socks. i’m so excited to keep wearing my jeans-sweaters-sneakers combo through the winter!

  38. Ursula says...

    I love the idea of having a uniform for every season. This sweater is a good start! Kendra is a true beauty.

  39. I think you could easily sub out an ankle boot for the sneakers, maybe in a tan that transitions a bit more easily through the seasons.

    I have a pair of burgundy suede sneakers on my wishlist. I’m hoping I can find a suitable pair in the boys department for thrifty savings, but I think I’m out of luck. Still, that might work with the Stan Smiths.

  40. This look is so cool and very much like my style in the fall! I bought a pair of suede Sanuk oxfords that you linked last fall and love them. They are my staple this year!

  41. Laura R says...

    I like how the coat fits her.. is it true to size?

  42. Diana says...

    I have been the complete opposite lately! I’ve been watching a lot of Sex and the City and also, Younger (which I recommend) and I think they’ve been influencing my look lately. I can’t get enough patterns, colors, shapes, etc.! Channeling my inner Carrie, for sure. Embrace the maximilism!

  43. Cheryl says...

    This looks so cute, but the wide-open ankles definitely won’t work in Ontario. So I guess it’s sweater, jeans and BOOTS for me!

  44. Lynn says...

    I wore my grey sweater, ankle jeans and floral Vans today! Such an easy outfit.

  45. We are so on the same page – I just found a camel merino wool sweater from Banana Republic that is my go-to! It’s the easiest chic fall color, and especially paid with some spice lipstick!! I suggest NARS Dolce Vita!

    Xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  46. My go-to uniform in the fall is my black ponte skinny pants, chambray shirt, & beige suede new balance sneakers (<– was trying to remember that grammar tip you shared a while back about the ordering of adjectives!). I'll usually wear a scoop neck uniqlo thermal shirt underneath my chambray shirt to bring the outfit into winter :) My jacket situation is usually my patagonia nano puff or uniqlo puffy, though, which aren't the most trendy but they always keep me the perfect temperature no matter the weather in my Colorado town :)

  47. J says...

    So cute! All of it. Does anyone know of a way to pull off low sneakers like this with socks? I try and it just never looks good. It’s already chilly in Chicago. Grrrrr

    • Colleen says...

      I think last year jo had a post about a special sock you can’t really see with this type of shoe.

    • Michelle says...

      for colder months, i like to pair low sneaks with long patterned socks. they add a bit of playfulness without making me look like a dad. i think the key here is to be confident and go all or nothing. no crew socks that create more lines around your ankles and no white socks. make it purposeful. some looks can be found in this cup of jo post and through googling ‘jeans with socks’:

      http://cupofjo.com/2015/09/street-style-inspiration-fall-2015/

    • Rose says...

      When I was in London this summer, I found out that there is a sock that is like pantyhose but goes to mid-ankle. I am in love with them and I think you can buy them on amazon just search “nylon ankle socks.” I get them in nude (which works for me because I’m a pale white person) but they have an assortment of colors.

  48. Alice says...

    I love this look on her! Too bad the sweater is already sold out
    :(

    Haha the power of cup of jo I guess!

  49. Erin W says...

    Such a cute outfit I love that duster coat! Also, in the second photo, Kendra looks a lot like your mom in a photo you posted of her one time! I think from the 70’s? I love the 70’s vibes going on in fashion right now!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, you’re so right, erin! good call!

    • Jenica says...

      I noticed this too!!!! The hair reminded me.

  50. Natalie Brennan says...

    What a beauty!!