Simplify Series – Building a Capsule Wardrobe for the office

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress.  Dress impeccably and they
remember the woman.” – Coco Chanel

Ahhh, the Capsule Wardrobe, a term coined in the 1970’s by London boutique owner Susie Faux, according to Wikipedia.  Defined further as “a collection of of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”

Wikipedia also states the great Donna Karan popularized this concept in 1985, when she released her “7 Easy Pieces” collection. Her aim was to fill what she referred to as “a void in the marketplace” for a stylish and practical wardrobe designed with working women in mind. When the collection debuted, she showed eight models dressed only in bodysuits and black tights. The models then began to add items of clothing such as wrap-skirts, trousers, and dresses, to demonstrate her interchangeable style of dressing.

The capsule wardrobe is a way to minimize time spent the dreaded question “What am I gonna wear?”

You can look all over Pinterest, You Tube, and other websites and see everyone’s idea of the perfect capsule wardrobe.  Some go as far to say only 10 pieces are allowed.  I find this a bit extreme.  If you work outside the home or like to dress in different styles throughout the week/month, 10 pieces aren’t going to get you very far.

Although I still struggle with this minimalist tactic, I have found the combination of the following works really well for me.  *Remember, I live in the Florida Panhandle where most of the year it’s very warm and humid.  If you live in an area that has more cooler temps, adjust.

  • 2 pairs of pants – one ankle length, one full length
  • 2 skirts – one high waist pencil, one A-Line
  • 1 dress – a great black dress can be worn in so many ways
  • 2 blazers – classic fit in black or navy can be worn all year.
  • 4 sleeveless/short sleeve shirts – you can go a little bold but keep in a neutral theme.  Stripes, florals & bold colors are great as long as they go with your bottom pieces.
  • 2 long-sleeve tops – same as above, keep your bottoms in mind
  • 2 cardigans – one longer open style and one shorter that can be buttoned up, go for your favorite solid colors here
  • 2 pumps – one black, one nude
  • 1 skinny belt – preferably black or brown, that fits around your natural waist to be worn around a cardigan or dress.

When building your work attire capsule keep these tips in mind:

  1. Bottom pieces should be a color that goes with anything is key.  Black, Navy, Gray & plaid are all extremely versatile.
  2. Leg styles and Rise – most women look best in a mid-rise skinny ankle length or a full length boot-cut pant. Mid-rise covers the troublesome tummy area with-out constricting the waist.
  3. Size – go with what fits you best.  Do not get stuck on the number.  Sometimes going up a size fits in a way that is more flattering and can make you look thinner – for real!
  4. Material – you get what you pay for.  Try to stay away from cheaply made items that will fall apart after a few wears and washes.
  5. Shoes – invest in well made shoes that fit!  Marshall’s and TJ Maxx are great places to find top quality shoes for affordable prices.  Shop for shoes later in the day vs first thing.  Our feet tend to swell and the shoe that fits perfectly in the morning could be torture by the mid afternoon.
  6. TRY IT ON – this is my biggest mistake.  Always, always, always try it on in the store.  Commit to this.  It’s no fun to get home and what you thought would fit doesn’t.
  7. Don’t launder after every wear.  I typically wear items 2 or 3 times before I wash them.  I also typically let them air dry.  Washing and drying too often will fade colors and alter fabrics’ integrity faster than you realize.
  8. Budget – set a budget for updating items each season.

Personally, I love shopping at LOFT for my office attire.  Most of their pieces seem to be made with a “capsule feel” that makes my morning so much easier!
Click here to visit their Pinterest page for inspiration.
I have also found a really, well made, affordable blazer at Target!  Click here to see it.

I hope this inspires you to simplify your mornings by making your work place outfit selection a bit easier.

Do you have any tips that make your mornings easier?  I’d love to hear them 🙂

*These pictures are my own, all links are non-affiliate.  


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