Like a Boss: Creating a Work Capsule Wardrobe

It’s your average weekday morning: You’ve rolled out of bed, showered and dried your hair. Now, it’s time for the struggle of picking out what to wear. Whether you stare hopelessly into the abyss of your closet or try on look after look to no avail, it’s not the best way to start your day.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it’s probably because you don’t have the workplace wardrobe you need to make mornings a breeze. There’s a simple solution to your problem, though: a work wardrobe capsule.

A capsule wardrobe is typically comprised of a set of incredibly versatile pieces that fit you well and make you feel great. Capsules take the guesswork out of getting yourself dressed. Rather than rifle through a stuffed closet for something office-appropriate, you’ll create a set of items that you know you can wear. Here’s how to do it:


Choose a Color Palette

You will be so happy that you created a work wardrobe capsule from a predefined palette, as it ensures that everything you have will go together. That way, you can grab any one of your shirts and know that it goes with any of the bottoms, shoes and outerwear that you’ve chosen. Choose colors from the palette that suits your skin tone to ensure you look your best in your capsule clothes.


Decide What You Need to Buy

Before you head to the mall to fill your capsule with new clothes, go through what you already have — your pre-existing wardrobe might just include some items that fit your color palette, fit you well and fit your work-appropriate requirements. Get rid of or donate everything else.

Now it’s time to make a checklist of what you need for your new, complete work wardrobe. Here’s what you should have:

  • Five to six shirts, so that you don’t have to wash them during the workweek
  • Five bottoms, which includes pants and skirts
  • Two dresses
  • Two jackets or sweaters — some type of outer shell for the office
  • One to two simple, professional bags
  • Six pairs of shoes

This might not seem like much, but you can mix and match to create 30 or more unique looks. You can add accessories that you already have – statement necklaces, scarves, earrings, bangles – to make them feel even more special and on-trend.


Go Shopping

Your shopping trip won’t be as easy as grabbing a handful of shirts and skirts in your color palette. Instead, you have much to consider as you build your capsule wardrobe.

  • Hemlines are especially important when it comes to dresses and skirts. They should hit you around the knee so that they’re workplace-appropriate. Imagine something like this chambray skirt.
  • Consider the type of shoes that you typically wear to work and choose your pants from there. Tapered pants, like these from J. Crew, work with both flats and heels, while wide-leg pants only go with heels. Of course, if you prefer pumps, either option is fair game.
  • Be a stickler for the fit of each item. You can get something that needs tailoring, but generally, the clothes you buy should fit and flatter you.
  • Check the tags for care instructions. With so few items in your work-wear arsenal, you only want things that you can wash and dry at home. In other words, say no to dry-clean only options.
  • Choose classic or simple, small patterns. Even if they’re in your color palette, a trendy pattern might look dated when the new season rolls in. Stripes and small dots, for example, never go out of style.


Put Together Some Looks

Once you’ve built your capsule wardrobe, it’s time for the fun part – putting together the looks that you’ll rock for work. If you’ve stuck to your color palette, everything you have should go together. However, it’s worth it to spend a few hours trying on a bunch of combinations from your capsule. You can check the proportions to make sure that a particular shirt goes with your wide-leg trousers or slip on a pair of heels with a dress to ensure that the look doesn’t expose too much leg.

With these pre-made outfits in mind, you will have no trouble at all getting ready in the morning. Instead, you’ll walk out the door each day looking and feeling as fabulous as you should.

Savannah Hemmings

Savannah Hemmings is a personal stylist and personal finance wiz kid. She graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Journalism and uses it to right witty and delightful articles on her blog, SincerelySavannah. Connect wit her on Twitter: @savhemmings

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