It’s been especially fun helping clients pull together their business casual wardrobes this season because Spring 2014 is full of new, work appropriate silhouettes. Lightening up the colours of a workwear wardrobe is key to refreshing your style at this time of year. Matching ink blue with shades of white has been particularly popular because it’s neutral, versatile, flattering, and über fresh after a Winter of wearing lots of black and grey. 

I recently went shopping with a corporate client who is extremely polished and prefers better-end professional pieces. She favours neutrals, subtle patterns, and is a true Modern Classic with a tall hourglass figure. She’s bored with wearing impeccable business formal wool suits with silk tops, so we focused on putting together business casual separates instead. We also threw in trendier pieces to change things up even more. 

We built several capsules together, of which the ink blue and white is a favourite. It was a huge change for my client to wear white trousers and ink blue instead of black and grey – and she loves the change. The palette also worked particularly well with her new, light blue geek chic specs and her brunette complexion.

Apart from the tote, the items below are the exact items that were purchased for the new capsule. All the tops can be worn with either of the bottoms. They can be worn tucked, partially tucked or untucked. Both jackets work over all four tops, can be matched with the skirt or trousers, and can be worn with either pair of shoes. Both jackets work over the dress. Of course, my client prefers some combinations over others, but when things bottleneck in the laundry, she knows she has options. She can choose any of these combinations and feel fabulous. 

This business casual mix-and-match capsule consisted of: two bottoms, four tops, two jackets, a dress, two pairs of shoes, and a bag. Normally, we’d put together five tops, but the dress takes the place of one of the tops in this case. Here are the components:

Two Bottoms

My client likes to wear trousers to work, but desperately wanted to wear a different vibe to bootcuts. So we opted for a trendy pair of cream ankle pants which she wears at a flattering length. The pants aren’t skintight so tucking tops and adding a belt works just fine. We decided on a cream pencil skirt because it’s a familiar silhouette for my client. Choosing it in white and in a textured knit made the style feel fresh and new. 

Nordstrom Collection Stretch Ankle PantsClassiques Entier Brigitte Cloque Detail Ponte Knit Skirt

Four Tops

We chose a variety of top styles across patterns and solids. Some are classic and some trendy. An ink gingham shirt for a preppy vibe. A lightweight metallic V-neck pullover in a shade of oyster for a little daytime sparkle. A sleeveless silk shell top in a fluid fit for ultra simplicity. And a patterned blouse with a high-low hemline for a dose of trendy. 

Banana Republic Fitted Non-Iron Gingham ShirtJ.Crew Metallic V-Neck SweaterVince Sleeveless V-Neck TopVince Camuto Reflections Sleeveless Shirttail Blouse

Two Jackets

We chose two fashionable jackets in different silhouettes and colours. The white blazer, although pretty classic, is a longer length and looks particularly fresh with trousers. The boxy navy Spring tweed jacket is modern with its inset white leather trim and bracelet length sleeves. My client will wear both jackets open, which is how the styles look best. 

Rachel Roy Fitted One Button BlazerRachel Roy Faux Leather Trim Tweed Jacket

Sleeveless tops sans topper are not an option for business meetings, so the jackets have to be light enough to wear indoors. But my client is comfortable taking off her jacket at her desk when she feels like a breezy break. Plus we have sleeved top options, so it’s all sorted. 

One Dress

We had to include the ink pencil sheath dress because my client loves dresses. And it has sleeves, which is a rarity. It can be worn on its own sans topper or with either jacket. It can also be worn in Winter with hose, booties, scarf and coat. It’s an extremely easy and versatile piece that is practical to take along on business trips.

Vince Three Quarter Sleeve Pencil Sheath DressVince Three Quarter Sleeve Pencil Sheath Dress

Two Pairs of Shoes

It’s ladylike and refined pumps all the way for my corporate client, but we chose styles that were a little less classic this time round. A leg lengthening light pair with trendy ankle straps, and a dark high vamped d’Orsay style with a lower heel. Both styles are very comfortable and equally great for business travel. 

Sam Edelman OkalaVince Aurelian Pump


My client prefers to use one handbag for the warm weather season, so I suggested she keep it light in colour so that it looks more Summery with all her outfits. She’s going to purchase a white and taupe bag that’s similar to the Witney tote, which is sufficiently large for her needs. The white belt will be worn when tops are fully or partially tucked. 

BCBGMAXAZRIA Witney ToteJ.Crew Golden Trim Leather Belt

The items in this capsule can also be used in capsules with different colour palettes. For example, the white jacket, trousers and skirt work well with the black and white patterned tops my client already has in her wardrobe. The navy tweed jacket works well over a burnt orange sheath dress and with denim boyfriend jeans. The white blazer looks smashing with black straight leg trousers, ink bootcuts, black and white houndstooth pants, and a burnt orange tweed pencil skirt. And the white bottoms are beautiful with the swingy blush Lloyd jacket my client added to her jacket capsule last week. 

Remember that this is just the starting point for one business capsule across one colour palette. 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.

Business Casual Spring Capsule: Ink Blue & White