WORK CAPSULE WARDROBE
For some of y’all, I am sure mornings are CRAZY. Especially if you are a mom or if you work full-time, that first part of your day can be filled with pure chaos! And one area that can become a total strain is simply dressing yourself for the day. Deciding on a work-appropriate outfit while the clock is ticking away, and you’ve still got to grab breakfast, run errands, and make it to work on time…STRESS.
This is why I recommend a work capsule collection. Having a work capsule wardrobe will simplify your routine and make getting dressed in the morning so much faster. All while helping you develop your personal style. The point of a work capsule is that each item goes with the other versatile pieces. So, when you assemble an outfit, you can feel confident in your styling choices! It’s a total life saver!
So, I’m dedicating this post to explaining everything you need to know about making your own work capsule wardrobe!
Work Capsule Wardrobe
BUTTONED BLACK BLAZER // CAMEL BLAZER // GREEN BLAZER // OPEN BLACK BLAZER
GREEN WIDE-LEG PANTS // CAMEL WIDE-LEG PANTS // SKINNY BLACK PANTS
RUFFLE SLEEVE BODYSUIT // WHITE BUTTON-DOWN TEE // SWEATER VEST
WHITE CINCH-WAIST DRESS // CREAM TIE-WAIST DRESS
RUST RUCHED TOTE // TORY BURCH CROSSBODY // YSL CROSSBODY // HOUNDSTOOTH BAG // BLACK AND GOLD CHAIN CROSSBODY
LAYERED NECKLACE // VINTAGE CLEAR EARRINGS // TWO-TONE EARRINGS // CHAIN BRACELET // SUNGLASSES
BELT // TAN BRAIDED SANDALS // LOAFERS // BLACK OPEN HEEL SLIDES // BLACK HEELS // BLACK STUDDED HEELS
So, what is a work capsule wardrobe? Basically, a few designers in the 70s and 80s decided women had overcomplicated their closets. It was too hard to find what you like and too hard to put outfits together. Not to mention, it was wasteful! So, they developed the original idea of a capsule wardrobe!
Donna Karan famously released the first work capsule wardrobe in 1985. It consisted of 7 timeless and essential pieces that could be interchanged into dozens of outfit combos! The pieces were all black and white and super easy to piece together, even for people who don’t consider themselves super fashion savvy.
Now, an all black and white closet of ONLY seven wardrobe essentials is a little extreme. But, the concept is a perfect springboard for creating a collection of workwear pieces that fit your day to day lifestyle. (Even if you’re a maximalist!). So, here are my recommendations for creating your own work capsule wardrobe:
Decide your reason for creating a work capsule.
Knowing your purpose for something makes the decision-making process way easier. Why do you want to create a workwear capsule? Do you want to build more stylish ensembles? Are you looking to save time? Or maybe you just want to make outfit selection easier? Whatever it is, note that reason!
If you’re looking to simplify, a smaller wardrobe with more basic pieces might be the best plan. If you want to create a personal style, I’d recommend assembling a larger collection with bolder pieces. Saving time your game? Then, find something in the middle.
Consider your personal style.
Again, Donna Karan’s 7 easy pieces are honestly pretty boring. The concept, however, is *chefs kiss* amazing. Still, I’d definitely find myself going crazy if I had to wear the same colors and the same basic outfit every day! So, think beyond! If you need inspiration, pull out your current favorite workwear items and build a color scheme and style from those inspiring styles!
Elevate with accessories.
Don’t forget, you can always spice up your outfits with accessories! Jewelry and shoes aren’t usually considered in a capsule collection, but they definitely should be. When outfit combos start to feel stale, adding a pendant necklace or a bold printed belt can make all the difference.
Don’t shy away from vibrant pieces.
Bright colors and animal prints are welcome on my blog! Though, I am sure you all know that already. As long as you don’t have too many clashing bold pieces, vibrant colors and patterns pair beautifully with neutral basics. You can totally put together outfits that are completely work-appropriate AND have a pop of color.
Maintain a color scheme.
Whether you decide to go with bold colors or something more muted, you’ll need to develop a color scheme. Thit way, when you’re pairing items, you don’t run into conflicting colors you struggle to match up. This defeats the whole purpose of a capsule collection!
Consider colors and prints you like, and then start pairing those with neutral colors that you adore! Start by making a style board on Pinterest. So, as you’re shopping, you can easily see if those pieces fit your capsule wardrobe. If you need inspiration, check out this article on developing color schemes!
Think about dress code and practicality.
If you’re already getting excited about creating a work capsule wardrobe, it’s okay, me too. BUT, pump the breaks. Before you start dropping items into your cart, think about your workplace dress code and daily tasks. What is appropriate and practical for an elementary school teacher versus a real estate agent is totally different!
Remember your climate.
This goes along with practicality. Ya’ll, that flowy blouse may look SO cute, but is it heavy enough for your frigid Minnesota working conditions? Or maybe a sweater dress sounds like a good idea, but not if you’re standing outside in the Arizona heat taking wedding photography. As you’re going through my capsule collection and outfit ideas, disregard any that won’t work for your city’s weather!
Ensure every item goes with 4 other items.
We already decided we’re not going quite as minimalist as the original work capsule collection. BUT, each piece needs to go with at least four other items in your capsule. You want to be able to mix and match easily, so having an item that only goes with a couple of things is just not practical.
Keep your capsule between 10-30 pieces.
Finally, how big should your capsule be? Depending on your purpose in creating the capsule, it can be between 10-30 pieces. This is small enough to reap all the benefits of a capsule collection, but not SO small you feel restricted with your outfit choices.
This number doesn’t have to include jewelry and other accessories! I recommend selecting a handful of versatile accessories, though, to pair with your capsule outfit. Having just a few shoes, belts, necklaces, etc. will keep your morning routine simple. But, you’ll still be able to add some quick flair to an outfit that’s growing dull!
Work Capsule Wardrobe Ideas
Alright, are you ready for the best part? It’s time to start picking pieces! So exciting! Here are some great choices for your work capsule wardrobe:
A bold blouse goes great with neutral black pants or brown trousers. And, you can easily pair them with a blazer or cardigan to tone down the color OR you can keep them bold with added accent jewelry! Though a bold blouse like this one may seem limiting, it can be paired with dozens of other items. You can double up on the vibrant shades, or pull it back with layered neutrals.
Don’t be afraid to add texture to your capsule! One of my favorite things about capsule items is that they’re timeless! They never go out of style, which means you can usually move your outfit from workwear to date night attire with just a couple changes. SO useful!
Anyway, leather items are perfect for elevating a professional look. And, leather pieces can be ready to hit the town in a blink! A leather jacket is always safe and super versatile, but I LOVE these leather leggings. Comfy, stylish, and ready for anything. Perfect for a capsule item!
Pencil skirts are totally timeless. They are so flattering and slimming, while still being really practical! Plus, the length is perfect for staying comfortable in the office! Think pencil skirts can’t be chic? They definitely can! I love this snakeskin print skirt with brown tones – it’s perfect for pairing. And, I can’t get enough of this high waisted suede skirt for added texture to your capsule!
Spring fashion trends are all over the magazines and ladies, trousers are definitely in! It’s totally not surprising, though, since trousers have been a long-time workwear staple. I particularly love high-waisted options for the workplace – they’re a great way to add shape to your outfit! In these, you’ll always be comfortable and chic.
Blouses in white, gray, black, and brown shades make great layering pieces or trendy stand-alone capsule items! Button downs add movement and excitement to your ensemble with a voluminous silhouette.
Here’s another great texture for your work capsule wardrobe! You can find loose knit or tight knit sweaters that come in a variety of colors and shapes. And, there are so many of them that are perfect for work. A French tuck, a piece of statement jewelry, and a framing undershirt will take your knits from drab to fab!
It’s always a good idea to play with dynamic shapes too. The hang of a loose knit sweater is flattering on most body types. If you’re someone who is a little more adventurous, try something wild like this! (Psst… puff sleeves are all the craze this spring!)
This would not be a work wardrobe post without the mention of a blazer! Blazers are EVERYTHING when it comes to workwear. They are so stylish and can be paired with so many different blouses for a fun and professional layering effect. You can also play with whether you leave them buttoned or unbuttoned for your look!
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! Here’s a blazer I wore as a dress. You’ll notice it’s a bold color, too (of course!). There is no need to fear bringing your bold colors to pieces beyond a pretty top. You could also go with a printed fabric like this blazer! Plaid is always safe, and ALWAYS in style.
Guys, what’s more timeless than pearl earrings? This one truly goes without saying. Pearl studs or dangling earrings are the perfect accessory for any outfit you’re looking to soften! The white or ivory color goes with almost anything and finding a good pair is super easy!
A trench coat is a great piece to add to your capsule! Not only are trench coats stylish, but they’re great for walking commutes or generally chilly work environments. Trench coats come in a TON of different styles and weights, so you’re sure to find a trench coat that fits your needs. You can check out all things trench coats here. [link trench coat article]
Now – this is a piece that can go from workday to date night in a flash! LBDs are perfect for the workplace. And, if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed in the morning, grabbing the black dress is a great idea. You know it’ll look great, and accessorizing is easy! Pretty much anything goes with a LBD! I love all the dresses I have to choose from here on my LTK shop.
If you LOVE layering, but constantly tucking and adjusting your undershirts is NOT something you’re into, bodysuits are perfect. They don’t ride up or get untucked – they stay put! I also love how they come in lots of great base colors. This makes adding your other ensemble items super easy!
Duh! What both literally AND figuratively elevates an outfit? HEELS! They’re slimming, fierce, and immediately create a professional look. Even if you were wearing black jeans and a blouse to work, heels would immediately bring it to the next level. Just remember to pick a height that’s suitable for your job! No one wants to be in six inch heels standing at a counter for eight hours!
Hoop earrings, much like pearl earrings, have been around forever. Hoops perfectly shape the face, which makes them perfect for both evening wear AND workwear. You’ll want to make sure your capsule has a good mix of silver and gold-colored accessories. This way, grabbing and pairing accessories is as quick as the rest of the outfit.
Boots are the best! Way more comfortable than heels, but can look just as professional! I recommend a good ankle boot, because it’ll easily fit under your trousers or jeans. If you wear a lot of skirts or tight-fitting bottoms, definitely opt for a higher boot! Both options change the proportions of the outfit, which is perfect for adding exciting variety to your morning wardrobe experience!
Dresses for work are the BEST! Again, it’s so fast to put on and almost any capsule item will pair with it. With this outfit, I added a leather jacket and some super high boots! You could also pair this outfit with heels and tights for colder months or switch out the jacket for a blazer.
I am not going to say watches are timeless, because, uh, obvious reasons! But, seriously, a leather watch exudes professionalism! It’s a practical accessory that can be added to any ensemble. There are lots of strap color options, so make sure your watch fits your color scheme.
Many business casual environments are okay with jeans, but not the traditional blue denim wash. Luckily, there are lots of colored jeans out there for business casual outfits! I recommend having one or two pairs of dark jeans, because denim is professional and comfortable. Make sure you get them tailored so they look sharp!
If you’re on the move a lot, heels might not be your thing. Flats are a GREAT alternative. They still look professional, but they don’t kill your feet! Flats look great with short to mid-length dresses. But, you could also wear them with a jumpsuit or jeans outfit!
Sleeved dresses are great for work capsules! You can go super bold and exciting with your color scheme because your grays, browns, whites, or blacks will bring it down. Or, if you want to amp it up, jewelry and heels will do the trick! This sleeved dress is PERFECT for work.
A simple pendant necklace is super trendy. And, the necklace won’t get in the way of most work tasks! It can be added to high neckline pieces to bring shape and definition to the ensemble.
I love tote bags for work capsule wardrobes because they can hold ALL of your work stuff. If you regularly bring lots of items back and forth from the office, consider getting a big tote! Feel free to get a couple that will compliment all of your outfits. This way, getting ready can be as simple as slipping on a dress, jumping into some shoes, and snatching your favorite tote bag!
Jumpsuits! These are perfect for a capsule wardrobe, because they’re outfits within themselves! Jumpsuits make you look taller and create a chic monochrome style [link monochrome article when live]. A belt and an ascot with a bold print brought my jumpsuit outfit to the next level! You can do it too with your chosen accessories.
A work capsule wardrobe can simplify your mornings and help you develop your personal style!
Building a work capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be hard! In fact, after you pick your color scheme, choosing pieces is fun and easy with this simple guide. Remember to consider what’s practical for your career and your climate! And, every piece MUST go with four other items. Other than that – good luck, you got this! Here we go – let’s dive into my workwear capsule recommendations!
I love the versatility of this dress! You can pair it with a buttoned blazer or statement belt for extra flair! This houndstooth bag paired with black heels creates a chic, clean look – but you could also add some pops of color to the outfit seamlessly!
A good bodysuit can go such a long way! Pair with your favorite classic work pants, or a fave pair of denim. I love adding layers in spring, and this mixture of browns and tans is on-trend right now! Add this camel oversized blazer and these braided heels to get the look! This rust tote bag is under $100 but has a designer-inspired look and feel to it. Lastly, this layered necklace is fun for pairing with any neutral outfit!
Another dress that can be styled so many ways! I love these slingback open-heeled flats for a comfy but still chic look. These sunglasses are an Amazon favorite and I can’t believe they’re under $15! Can’t forget the black and gold that’s almost necessary for any chic workwear outfit! Add these two-tone hoops and Tory Burch crossbody to accomplish that look!
Green, green, and more green this spring! This matching set can be paired with your favorite black, nude, or white pieces. I love the idea of an oversized white button-down with a wide-leg pant. Such a fun menswear-inspired look! To add a vintage feel, pair these earrings and loafers with this suit – also love this classic YSL crossbody!
Another look with a classic black blazer! I love sweater vests – you can layer them or wear them on their own! Paired with these camel-colored wide-leg plants, it’s the perfect contrast of neutrals! These heels are a STATEMENT – this outfit definitely has bold vibes with the chain-link bracelet and chain-link crossbody!
Which look is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!