Written by: Lisa Patulny and Sara Crampton
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.
We've identified 16 essential workwear items for your 9-5 in 2024.
1. Layering Tank
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.
2. White Long Sleeve Tee
Smart basics are a cornerstone of any wardrobe, and are especially important in your workwear capsule. A high quality crew neck long sleeve cotton top will be a well worth investment.
3. Black Long Sleeve Tee
You don't always need to double up on the essentials, but having both a black and white in this classic top for your work wardrobe will come in handy, and black is always a great fall back tone for the office.
4. Button up 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 or the aforementioned tanks. And although we've specified white, you can sub in a classic blue or beige if you feel this is more your style.
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.
6. 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.
7. Neutral Trousers
Sure you can absolutely get away with just wearing black pants day-in-day-out but adding a neutral trousers into the mix will add a lot more variation.
8. Black Skirt
A black skirt adds additional versatility to your capsule, but also be led by your personal style. For the office, a midi to ankle grazing length is most appropriate. Opt for tailored designs and fabrications. Avoid styles that are too tight fitting or in thin materials.
9. Dark Wash Denim
Not all offices deem denim appropriate but if yours does then a dark indigo wash is the most elegant and dressed up options as opposed to a light blue which is more weekend wear.
10. Black Dress
What does a good work dress look like? Something you can throw on that will always look smart. Midi lengths and modest necklines in either button up, wrap styles or a crew neckline works well here. Similar to our advice on office skirts, staying away from anything too tight or made from a thin fabric is best.
11. Black 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.
12. Classic Trench Coat
A classic trench in tan or a shade of beige or green is a chic way to dress up your 9-5 commute. Sure, you're not necessarily wearing it in the office, but it's certainly an essential.
13. Black Comfortable Heels
Comfort is key here as there isn't nothing chic or professional about hobbling around in heels too high, its 2024! A midi heel in either an elegant minimalist strap design or a closed toe work best.
14. Black Closed in Flats
A classic ballet flat or smart loafer are good choices that will work with most outfits across all seasons. invest in a shoe polish and leather conditioner to keep them looking their best.
15.Carry All Tote Bag
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.
16. Black Belt
Now that you have the list, we’ve also shown you how to style them with our Workwear Capsule Lookbook of 52 outfits using the items above. So you’ll always have an outfit combination read for Monday morning.