I recently worked with a client who wanted to relax her corporate business casual look for Spring. So we refreshed her wardrobe by building a smart casual mix-and-match capsule in black and white with splashes of jewel tones. The bottoms and jackets are what make her work outfits more casual than what she had worn in the past. 

We worked on a ratio of three bottoms, seven tops, three toppers, three pairs of shoes and two bags. No scarves or belts, since most of the tops are worn out over bottoms. In some instances the tops can be partially tucked in front, but since the bottoms are slim-fits, we decided to keep things simple and leave off the belt. 

Apart from three substitutes, these are the exact items that went into the capsule. All seven tops can be worn with all three bottoms and topped with either of the black jackets. The taupe and cream jacket works best with five of the tops, but at a push can be worn with all of them. Both black pairs of footwear work with all the outfit combinations. The stone booties work with fewer outfit combinations, but provide a good amount of variety in the mix.


My client is not a skirt gal, so we chose three pairs of dressier tailored skinnies across different colours. A pair of black cigarette pants, a pair of shiny taupe jeans, and a pair of relaxed cropped jeans in a dark denim. The skinnies fit my client more like slim straight legs because she is narrow in the calf. Although these pants are more casual than the slacks my client used to wear, they are dressier than faded denim, chinos, leggings or corduroy. The tapered leg is easy to pair with any heel height and works well in wet Seattle weather.


Ample variety is key. We chose two woven tops, four knitted tops, and one item of knitwear. We added further variety by choosing patterns, solids and a colour block. We kept some styles fitted, and others fluid. The assortment is both modern classic and trendy:

  1. On trend woven drape-front blouse in a fluid fit and pattern. 
  2. Classic knitted and fitted mock-wrap top in a pattern.
  3. Classic knitted and fitted keyhole top in a pattern.
  4. Classic woven crisp tailored shirt in a solid. 
  5. On trend knitted and fluid flutter sleeve top in a pattern. 
  6. Classic knitted, fitted and textured shell top in a solid. 
  7. On trend oversized underlay sweater in a solid colour block. 

It’s unclear in the photos but tops #1, #3 and #5 have taupe in the pattern, which picks up the taupe in the shiny jeans. The black in the patterns creates a cohesive look with the black shoes and my client’s black hair. 


We kept the toppers on the trendy side to complement the simpler bottoms. We chose three different, yet tailored silhouettes. One knit, one woven and one pleather. Although two of the jackets are black, they are not similar in style or integrity. The one is a casual and comfortable knitted moto jacket, while the other is a dramatic, stiffer and dressier peplum jacket. The pleather is light and playful, and a tonal match with the taupe pants. 

The jackets will be kept open most of the time to showcase the contrasting tops, and to create a slimming vertical line down the centre front of the outfit. But the black jackets look sharp zipped up, as another option. 


Booties can be worn most of the year in Seattle so it’s practical to have a large number of them. We chose a dressy pair of black booties and a trendy and dressier pair of black slipper flats. Although we haven’t found them yet, we intend to add a pair of stone booties to lighten things up. At home, my client has sea foam, black, animal print and nude pumps that can also work beautifully with some of the outfits. 


My client is not a big scarf or jewellery wearer. That leaves a bag, watch and wedding ring as daily accessories. We’re sticking to a beautifully made black satchel for most days, and threw in a trendy white pleather clutch just for fun. 

My client has items at home that further embellish the outfit possibilities of this capsule, like white jeans, a white denim jacket, sea foam jeans, red jeans, a fuchsia jacket, black and white geometric print tops, and more floral knitwear and black booties.

Now that the neutral capsule is complete, we’re on to building the next Spring capsule with mid tones, pastels and white. A big thank you to my wonderful client for generously allowing me to share this information with you.