I recently went shopping with a client who needed help putting together a small business casual capsule for a brand new job. Our goal was to create a small, but effective assortment of flattering, pulled together mix and match outfits. That way she would be able to reach for outfits without fuss, and focus her energies on work.
My client wanted to look professional, polished, current and a little fun. It was important that she feel comfortable, which meant items couldn’t be overly tight, and no heel heights over two inches. She also runs cold so toppers are a daily necessity.
We shopped for two hours and put together a capsule that is similar to the one you see here. My client had some of the pieces already (black jacket, clutch, ink blouse and grey trousers). She also has some pieces not shown here (more tops, cardigans, black trench coat and white jeans) that will provide further outfit variety within the capsule.
The first thing we did was decide on a colour palette. My lovely client is blonde and looks extra fab in cool colours, so we chose light grey, black, ink blue, taupe and off-white as neutrals. She loves fuchsia and citron, so we included those colours in some of the tops. Although these are warmer, wearing them with cool neutrals makes the colours completely wearable against my client’s cool complexion.
All five tops can be worn with all four bottoms, and topped with any of the three jackets. All footwear options work with the bottoms because my client’s extra long leg line allows her to wear one inch heels with bootcut trousers. She’s also fine wearing booties and loafers with skirts. She’ll add nude hosiery and knee-highs for warmth. The belt is for the off-white tops that she partially tucks into the front of the three pairs of trousers. She wears the rest of the tops untucked.
Neutral and colourful outfits can be created from this capsule. We kept patterns to a minimum because solids are easier to mix and match.
Here are the components:
Bottoms: Choose four bottoms in different silhouettes to ensure maximum variety: micro check ankle pants, grey bootcut trousers, ink straight leg trousers, and a patterned pencil skirt. We chose a pencil instead of a flared skirt because it’s easier to pair with untucked voluminous tops. We chose a pattern in the skirt to liven up the capsule.
Tops: Choose five tops in an assortment of colours, silhouettes and textures. We chose an off-white blouse with a high-low hemline to partially tuck with a belt. And solid blouses in fuchsia, cream and citron. One was structured, and the others fluid. My client was wearing the drapey navy blouse, which unexpectedly worked brilliantly in the capsule.
Jackets: Choose three jackets in an assortment of colours and silhouettes. We chose a lightweight taupe leather jacket that could be worn indoors, and a simple modern classic light grey blazer with a low stance. My client already had the short black tuxedo jacket, which has fun pinstripe turnup lining on the sleeves.
Footwear: Choose at least three pairs of shoes because feet need change, and so does your outfit. We chose a pointy toe tan flat to bookend my clients blonde hair, and elongate the leg line when wearing bootcut trousers. The black bow on the flat worked well to repeat the black of the jacket. The black loafers are comfortable modern classics. Black cut-out booties provide a little trendy hard edge. We didn’t manage to get the patterned black and white slipper flats, but that is next on the shopping list, so I popped them into the capsule.
Bags: Choose a bag or two that suits your lifestyle. My client likes to use one bag for the season, so we lightened up with a taupe tote for Spring that carries a laptop and paper. The clutch fits into the tote, which is essential because she travels to and from work with the tote but uses the clutch during the workday. She’ll change up the colour of the clutch during the season.
Accessories: We bought a tan belt to wear with the partially tucked white tops and left it at that. No scarves or additional jewellery was purchased because stud earrings, watch and wedding ring are fine for day-to-day office wear.
This is just one business casual capsule to get my client started on her new job. She will add to this capsule, and create new capsules in different colour palettes for greater variety. She’ll probably be able to shop her closet for a more denim-friendly look for Casual Friday. And she’ll add some dresses for Summer.
Planning and purchasing your workwear wardrobe in capsules is one way to ensure that you have an assortment of mix and match outfit possibilities on hand. Having several mix and match capsules in your closet allows you to pick and choose your outfits daily from different capsules, thereby ensuring ongoing variety.