When I first started working in an office, I went a little crazy buying “work clothes” because I was afraid of wearing the same five looks over and over again. (We all know a person, right?)
I quickly found that even though I had a decent amount of work clothes, I kept reaching for the same couple of shirts, the same couple of pairs of pants – because I felt good in them, and I knew they worked. The other clothes, like the too-formal dresses I bought before I landed a job and the tops I bought online that didn’t quite fit right, sat in my closet.
This is part of why I find capsule wardrobes so fascinating – editing down your closet to just a couple of key pieces that you can wear with everything else. I feel like most of us already do this anyway, whether we know do it consciously or not. Plus, I feel like it simultaneously makes it easier to dress and makes you a little more adventurous and creative.
Here at CF, we’ve covered capsule wardrobes for school — here’s our spring capsule wardrobe to get you started. But what about those of you recent grads who are working full time? We got you too. Below is a spring capsule wardrobe for work.
Because most capsule wardrobes are seasonal, I focused on making this spring-focused (you’ll find tried-and-true florals and some sunny spring colors) but still neutral enough that you can wear almost anything with everything.
If you’re just starting out in the workforce or you’re building a better work wardrobe, starting with some key work wardrobe basics (like some of the pieces here in the capsule) will help you get started without breaking the bank too much. Also, don’t feel obligated to stick to just 17 pieces – this is just what I was thinking to get through 3 weeks to a month of work appropriate outfits. And feel free to throw in some uber-trendy pieces too!
This 17 piece capsule includes shoes and a bag but no other accessories. Of course you could (and I expect would!) augment this wardrobe with jewelry, scarves, and other work-appropriate accessories (as well as hair and make-up looks!), as well as other pairs of shoes and bags (most of us have more than 3 pairs of shoes, let’s be real), but the idea is you could make this work with just the three pairs and 1 bag, and minimal accessorizing.
1. Black sweater: A textured but neutral pull-over sweater can be layered with other tops, like the white and striped collared ones pictured here, or worn on its own. Because it’s solid and neutral, it can be worn with patterned bottoms or atop dresses, but a bit of texture keeps it from being boring or basic.
2. Gray Top: I like adding in a top or two with a modern silhouette to break up the monotony of button-ups every day. Keep it simple with a modern but neutral color, like this cool gray, so you can still pair it with lots of other pieces from the capsule wardrobe.
3. White Button-Down: This one is a no-brainer. I’ve picked an updated short-sleeve version here, but any of your go-to slinky white button-downs would kill it here. Wear it with everything and take good care of it, because your white button-up works hard.
4. Gray Cardigan: Even when the weather heats up, you’ll want a cardigan in your rotation for frigid, overly-AC’ed offices or chilly mornings. A soft textured knit adds a bit of contrast, while a long, cool silhouette keeps this cardigan from being too precious.
5. Patterned Top: I realized as I was putting these together that I’m much more likely to wear a patterned bottom than a patterned top – if patterned tops are more your thing, feel free to swap a few of the solid neutrals out for a patterned top or a bolder color. Just be sure to balance it with a few more neutral choices in your bottoms. For this capsule, though, I went with some blue and white stripes for something springy, breezy, and familiar.
6. Patterned Pant: I love me a floral pant, and nothing screams “badass career woman” like a luscious floral print on a work pant. Even though the print is loud, you can pair this with any of the neutral tops in the capsule – I even think it would work with the striped top, if you’re into a bit of pattern play.
7. Dark Blue Jeans: If your office doesn’t allow you to wear jeans, feel free to swap this for a pair of neutral slacks, but it’s nice to have a solid, dark pair of blue jeans for casual Fridays or other events where jeans are ok. Plus, if you have an office that allows jeans, you can wear them with literally everything.
8. Black Pants: Again, a no brainer. If you work for an especially conservative office, solid black pants will work just as hard as your white button-ups to tie your wardrobe together. If you work in a more laid back office where jeans are ok, feel free to swap these out for a pair of black skinny jeans (no rips, please!).
9. Patterned Skirt: I love this cute black and white gingham skirt for spring – it’s feminine and graphic but still conservative enough that you could wear it in an office with a more stringent dress code. I especially love this look paired with the black sweater, the white shirt, and the yellow flats for a little pop of color.
10. Blush Skirt: A blush skirt adds an ultra-femme and neutral option to your capsule wardrobe that isn’t black, gray, white, or brown, but still pairs well with all of your tops and most of your accessories. If blush isn’t your thing, swap this out for another neutral color – bonus points for a texture, like leather or suede, for added variety.
11. Black Blazer: Again, a workhorse that imo every girl should have in your wardrobe. A blazer makes any outfit boardroom-worthy, so be sure to pick one that makes you feel super fly. I love boyfriend silhouettes, like the one shown here.
12. Colorful Flats: In a capsule wardrobe, a pair of colorful flats can do a ton of work to breathe a bit of life into otherwise boring outfits. If yellow’s not your thing, a classic red would be lovely here, or for something extra current, a purple pair would be awesome too.
13. Black Booties: It’s spring, so you know you’re going to get some slush and some rain, and flats or heels aren’t always going to cut it. I’m seeing these low-cut booties everywhere and I’m loving the little bit of ankle they show, especially when worn with cropped or ankle-length pants. Wear with everything and treat them well so you can get multiple seasons out of them.
14. Nude Heels: Again – a workhorse you can wear with everything. Chunky heels are in right now, but wear what you like. Or swap for neutral flats if heels aren’t your thing (girl, I get it).
15. Neutral Bag: If you’re like me and you gravitate towards cool neutrals like blacks and grays, try making your go-to work bag a warmer neutral, like a cognac or tan color. It’s a bit unexpected but still polished, and can really help liven up a look – especially when you’re working with a limited number of pieces.
16. Solid Dress: A working lady’s wardrobe wouldn’t be complete without a few dresses, right? Since you’ll be wearing these mostly on their own (aside from with a cardigan or a blazer, potentially), I like them to pack a bit of a punch, like the current color and tie-front silhouette of the dress shown here.
17. Patterned Dress: If your first dress is a little more casual, try making your second dress a little more formal for extra special meetings or work events. You can always dress down the dressier dress (that’s a sentence, huh?) by wearing blouses underneath or sweaters over top for a slightly quirkier look.
What do you think?
Would you wear a capsule wardrobe for your work wardrobe? What outfits would you make with these pieces? How many pieces do you really wear in your wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below!