Here’s How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Work

Written by: Lisa Patulny

Work Wardrobe Essentials

By now, you’ll know how much we appreciate a capsule wardrobe. Not only does it make getting dressed more manageable, it helps you tap into your personal style and avoid wasting money on purchases you don’t ultimately end up wearing. We’re also fans of building a smaller, secondary capsule wardrobe just for work. 

A workwear capsule is a tight edit of clothes and accessories that allows you to choose from pieces you’ve already deemed workwear appropriate. Basically, it helps make your mornings as stress-free and seamless as possible. If you work in a corporate or executive environment, there’s likely to be less crossover between your work wardrobe and your regular one, making this a particularly worthwhile exercise. But even if you mix and match the two, it pays to have a considered selection of wardrobe essentials you’ve curated just for the 9 to 5.

So what kind of office-friendly essentials should you look for? Here’s our sample workwear capsule wardrobe.

Black pants

Look for a pair of classic tailored pants that are smart and comfortable. (The latter is essential if you’re usually sitting at a desk all day.) Your work pants should be hemmed to suit both your lower heel and flat.

White shirt

Is there any outfit a white shirt can’t save? (Not really!) A crisp white shirt in an opaque fabrication like cotton poplin is perfect for the office. Wear it with trousers or skirts or even layered over a sleeveless dress. 

Blouse

There are plenty of options for work-appropriate blouses, so take your pick. Keep it simple and classic so you can rewear it without getting bored. Avoid sheer fabrications, bright prints and over-the-top embellishments.

Work wardrobe essentials

Layering tops

These tops are essential for getting the most out of your outerwear year-round. Tanks and tees in thicker fabrications and tailored cuts allow you to wear your work jackets and blazers throughout different seasons.

Blazer

A classic workwear workhorse, a good blazer is worth its weight in gold. Opt for a tailored cut in a black, navy or neutral colour for maximum wear. If you can, buy matching trousers so you can easily put them together as a suit.

Go-to dress 

What does a good work dress look like? Something you can throw on that will always be appropriate. (A midi-length and sleeves usually help with that part.)  Think: a shirt or wrap dress in a thicker, fluid fabric. 

Midi skirt

Whether you prefer a pencil skirt or something with a little more ease, avoid fabrics like linen and stretch jersey, which read more ‘beach’ than ‘boardroom’. Office-appropriate details like pockets are a nice touch.

Carry all tote

A pragmatic addition to your workwear capsule wardrobe, this bag should be sized to fit your lunch, laptop and anything else you need for the day. A black work bag will never feel dated, but brown and navy work too.

Work wardrobe essentials

Flats

Leave your summer sandals for the weekend and wear a flat shoe with a closed toe instead. Smart loafers or a minimal ballet flat are good choices that will work with most outfits. Keep them clean and scuff-free.

Comfortable heels

Again, steer clear of anything too strappy in favour of a versatile low- to mid-sized heel with a closed toe. If you work in a casual office, heeled sandals might be ok, but they can read too casual unless styled appropriately.

Got that? Now, how about a few tips to make sure you’re hitting the mark when it comes to office dressing?

  • Keep it clean and tidy. Your clothes should always be stain-free and pressed. Check your accessories for signs of wear too – snags in hosiery or shoe scuffs take away from a well-turned-out impression.
  • Choose high-quality materials. If you work five days a week, you’ll be wearing your workwear essentials on repeat so choose pieces that will last the distance. (Just think about the cost per wear.)
  • Know your office dress code. This is especially important for those who work in the corporate world. If you’ve progressed roles in the last few years, it might be worth revisiting how you present yourself.
  • Dress like you’re in management. No matter what industry you work in or your role, presenting yourself as well put together can help convey trustworthiness, confidence and professionalism.

Find more ideas for office dressing with our workwear capsule edit and workwear capsule wardrobe checklist.

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