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If you build a work wear capsule with intention and forethought you will maximize the wearability of the items, reduce their cost per wear, and have “ready to go” outfit combinations when you look at your closet in the morning. 

In this post I want to show you how I might build a work wear capsule with one of my clients. Sometimes we fill in the gaps of an existing capsule, and sometimes we start from scratch. The structure is flexible and provides a solid starting point to mix-and-match separates. 

Establish two things upfront:

  • Colour Palette: Choose a colour spectrum to ensure an easy mix and match of the items. I’ve chosen orange and blush pink and underpinned them with soft and earthy neutrals. 
  • Fashionablity: Decide which trends you’d like to incorporate into the mix. Because this is a Spring capsule, I’ve chosen on trend orange, pastels, slouchy trousers, soft dressing, voluminous tops and pattern mixing. 

On to the components of the capsule. With careful selection you should be able to create a different outfit using any combination of your tops, bottoms, toppers and shoes. In my examples I’m going to imagine that you work in a somewhat casual office environment.

Five Tops

Choose five tops, one for every day of the week. Create an assortment of colours, fabrications and silhouettes so that you don’t get bored with your choices. Make sure that at least one of the tops is a versatile basic, like a white button down or a black knit top.

I’ve chosen a machine washable mock wrap print blouse, a coral dolman sleeve textured shirt, a boxy blush pink silk pleat placket blouse, a basic white button down shirt, and a black tie-neck knitted top.

These tops can be worn both tucked and un-tucked with bottoms. 

Three Bottoms

Choose three bottoms that will work with all the tops. Again, select an assortment of colours, styles and fabrications to change up the vibes of the outfits. I’ve chosen a pair of soft slouchy pants in slate, a pair of classic wide leg linen trousers in stone, and a faux wrap pencil skirt in a two toned animal print. Yes! You’ll need to pattern mix one of the tops and bottoms in this capsule. For the rest, mix solids with pattern, and solids with solids. Tuck some of the tops into their bottoms, and wear others un-tucked.

Two Toppers

This is an optional extra because you can wear the tops on their own with a camisole. But if you like to wear toppers like jackets at the office, choose two to work with the rest of the capsule. I’ve chosen a classic textured mink blazer and a lightweight Spring leather jacket in blush pink. Remember that you can remove toppers as desired, and pop them back on for a meeting or when you feel the chill. You could have chosen cardigans instead of jackets for a more relaxed work look.

Two Pairs of Shoes

You’re looking for at least two pairs of shoes to work with this capsule. I’ve chosen a pair of classic low heeled pumps in blush pink, and a pair of neutral, high heeled strappy colour blocked snake skin sandals. You could have also thrown in a wedge, booties, peep toes, t-straps or mary janes. You’ll have to be in the pattern mixing mood when you combine the patterned top and skirt with the snake skin sandals. It may not be your cup of tea, but the outfit combination is a stylish and on trend possibility.

A Handbag

Finish off the capsule with a suitable structured bag in the best quality that you can afford. I’ve chosen a textured satchel in taupe that will work throughout Spring and Summer if you don’t like to frequently swap out your bags. 

The Extras

The above items are the foundation of a capsule. Although I haven’t included dresses, feel free to add them, either as stand alone items, or as sheath styles that can be layered with blouses and shirts underneath, and with jackets and cardigans on top. Add in jewelry pieces, a watch, and items like scarves and belts as desired. Throw in a new lipstick and nail polish colour to complement the capsule. 

Do it Yourself

The structure of the capsule serves as a template that you can manipulate to reflect your own style, silhouette and colour preferences. For example, use skirts instead of trousers if you don’t like to wear trousers. Change the colour palette. Substitute prints for some of the solids to be more on trend. Add in cardigans. Throw in a striped blazer or a snakeskin handbag. Add items onto the capsule to create further outfit combinations. 

As you substitute and add more items, do make sure that you have ample mix and match options. The point of a planned wardrobe capsule is to minimize dressing stress and closet orphans. It’s often easier to manage fewer options!

The items I have chosen above represent almost $3000 at full price retail, and I’m not at all suggesting that you have to do this all at once, or at these price points. It represents a plan and a goal. It will keep you on track as you add items to your wardrobe incrementally. And perhaps at much lower prices as you find lower cost alternatives and shop the sales. But having the structure will help you to get more bang for the buck out of the purchases you do make. Once the capsule is complete, or near enough to completion, choose another colour palette and start the process all over again. After all, the fun is in the journey, not the destination.