The Ultimate Guide to Building a Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe
Building a business casual capsule wardrobe can seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.
In this article, we will discuss the basics of creating a versatile and stylish wardrobe that will help you look your best at work. We’ll go over key pieces that should be in every business casual capsule, as well as how to mix and match them to create endless outfit possibilities.
So whether you are just starting in your career or you’re looking to update your current wardrobe, read on for some helpful tips!
What is a business casual capsule wardrobe?
A business casual capsule wardrobe is a carefully curated collection of clothing items that are versatile and timeless. It should include the basics such as trousers, shirts, skirts, blazers, sweaters, and more. By sticking to neutral colors and classic silhouettes, you can create an array of outfits for work and beyond.
How to start creating a business casual capsule wardrobe?
Here are some tips to get you started on creating your own business casual capsule wardrobe:
- Consider your work environment. What kind of dress code does your employer have? Knowing this will help you decide which pieces to include in your wardrobe.
- Choose quality over quantity. Invest in classic items that are made from good materials, as these will last longer and look better for a longer period.
- Look for versatile pieces. The key to creating a successful business casual capsule wardrobe is making sure each item works with the others. Start by selecting a few basics in neutral colors such as black, navy, khaki, and grey. These will form the foundation of your capsule wardrobe and will create the basis for all future outfit combinations.
- Consider seasonality. When creating a business casual capsule wardrobe, it’s important to consider the changing seasons. Swap out heavier fabrics such as wool for lighter ones in the warmer months, and vice versa in cooler periods.
- Include accessories. Accessories are an essential part of any outfit, so make sure you include some timeless pieces such as jewelry, belts, a watch, and scarves in your wardrobe. To ensure your look remains timeless, opt for accessories that won’t draw attention away from the rest of your ensemble.
- Choose a practical bag. A quality leather bag that fits all of your work essentials is essential to any business casual wardrobe. Consider the size you need (if you tend to carry a laptop, make sure the bag can fit it) and opt for a neutral color.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Comfortable shoes are a must for any well-dressed professional. Opt for quality leather shoes that can transition from day to night and match the colors of your other clothing items.
- To maintain a professional appearance, underwear should not be visible. Look for fitted, tailored underwear that won’t be seen under clothing.
- Make-up should be neutral. To complete your look, opt for subtle and neutral make-up that won’t take away from the rest of your outfit.
- Neat hairstyle and nails. Finally, make sure your hair is tidy and your nails are groomed to complete the look.
What are essential pieces for every business casual capsule wardrobe?
Trousers are an essential part of any business casual wardrobe. For optimum comfort and professionalism, consider high-waisted pleated wide-leg or straight-cut pants. With this look, you will be able to stay comfortable while still appearing put-together. Moreover, these trousers can be combined effortlessly with button-down shirts, turtlenecks, and blazers.
Choose lighter pastel colors for your summer wardrobe. The fabric should be natural like cotton or linen to allow the skin to breathe. Additionally, the fabric should be thick enough so that any signs of pockets and linings remain hidden.
- Roksanda: Pleaded Cady Straight-Leg Ivory Pants
- Theory: Pleated Wool Straight-Leg Yellow Pants
- Alexander McQueen: Crepe Bootcut Blush Pants
- Akris: Farid Cotton-Blend Twill Flared Gray Pants
During the winter months, it’s essential to select woolen fabrics. However, since office temperatures can be quite warm at times, pick clothing pieces with a blend of both wool and cooler materials.
To provide an example that works for this season in particular; trousers in shades such as beige, grayish-blue (navy), dark red (burgundy), or ash grey are optimal attire options for professional work environments.
- Officine Générale: New Sophie Pleated-Wool Wide-Leg Gray Pants
- Lafayette 148: Gates Wool-Blend Twill Straight-Leg Beige Pants
- Givenchy: Wool-Blend Wide-Leg Army Green Pants
- Theory: Pleated Wool Straight-Leg Red Pants
Having a timeless casual business skirt for your capsule wardrobe is essential. When it comes to skirts, you have a variety of styles and lengths available. Opt for midi or maxi length pencil and pleated silhouettes that are either unpatterned or feature subtle designs.
For summer months choose lightweight fabrics in light tones; while winter calls for heavier wool and leather in darker shades. Silk and knitted skirts are not very suitable for the work environment.
- Safiyaa: Hokoku Stretch-Crepe White Midi Skirt
- Akris: Pleated Houndstooth Khaki Maxi-Skirt
- Cefinn: Tiana Burgundy Leather Midi Skirt
- The Row: Matias Cotton and Wool-Blend Dark Brown Midi Skirt
For a more feminine look include a few dresses in your business casual capsule wardrobe. Look for styles that are fitted and have an appropriate length. Knee-length is the safe option as it ensures you look professional without giving away too much skin. Shirt dresses are a great option.
Additionally, opt for classic colors such as black, navy, or grey to create timeless combinations, and experiment with patterned styles. For winter, pick heavier materials such as wool or cashmere and for summer, look for light fabrics in pastel shades.
- Jil Sander: Belted Pleated Cotton-Poplin White Midi Shirt Dress
- Stella Mccartney: Pinstriped Blue Cotton Shirt Dress
- Joseph: Luxe Cardigan Stitch Ribbed Cotton, Wool, and Cashmere-Blend Midi Dress
Button-down shirts are must-haves for any business casual capsule wardrobe. A few classic white and blue styles can be combined with trousers, skirts, or dresses to create a sophisticated look. Look for tailored pieces that fit comfortably without being too tight or loose.
- Acne Studios: Cotton-Poplin White Shirt
- Alaïa: Cotton-Poplin White Shirt
- The Row: Xime Cotton and Silk-Blend Beige Shirt
Blouses are also a great choice. Choose styles with subtle details and solid colors that are easy to combine with other items in your capsule wardrobe. For summer choose cotton, linen, and other lightweight fabrics.
- Adam Lippes: Ruffled Organic Cotton-Poplin White Top
- Balmain: Button-Embellished Ribbed-Knit White Top
- The Row: Desio Ribbed-Silk Beige Turtleneck Top
Turtlenecks and Sweaters
Turtlenecks and sweaters can also be included in your business casual capsule wardrobe. Look for classic styles with neutral colors such as grey, beige, or white. Opt for thicker fabrics like wool and cashmere that will keep you warm during the winter months.
In the example below, we have illustrated the different types of sweater collars. You can choose turtleneck sweaters or those with a round collar. V-shaped sweaters also look elegant. Plain sweaters should form the basis of your capsule wardrobe because they are easier to create outfits.
- Patou: Ribbed-Wool Beige Turtleneck Sweater
- Citizens of Humanity: Zola Cable-Knit Cashmere Ivory Turtleneck Sweater
- Khaite: Kleo Stretch-Knit Ivory Top
- The Row: Ophelia Oversized Wool and Cashmere-Blend Gray Sweater
Cardigans and Vests
A cardigan or vest can be used to add an extra layer of warmth during the colder months. Look for styles that are tailored and have subtle details such as buttons or pockets.
- Allude: Wool and Cashmere-Blend Gray Cardigan
- &Daughter: Ribbed-Wool Camel Cardigan
- Rag & Bone: Elizabeth Cropped Cable-Knit Wool, Cotton, and Alpaca-Blend Tan Vest
A classic blazer is an essential item in any business casual capsule wardrobe. Look for tailored styles that fit the body well. Solid colors such as navy blue, beige, or grey are timeless pieces that can be combined with almost any bottom piece. Also, look for blazers in subtle patterns if you want to add some interest to your outfits.
- Toteme: Double-Breasted Sateen Ivory Blazer
- By Malene Birger: Rosettan Cotton-Blend Beige Blazer (Similar)
- Proenza Schouler: Wool-Blend Gray Blazer
Coats and Jackets
Having a coat and/or a jacket is essential for layering. Choose styles in neutral colors such as black, brown, grey, or beige that will go with any outfit. Also, look for double-breasted coats or classic blazer shapes to add some sophistication. For winter opt for heavy fabrics such as wool or cashmere and lighter materials like cotton, for warmer seasons.
- Michael Michael Kors: Belted Wool-Blend Green Felt Coat
- Officine Générale: Amber Wool Coat
- Vince: Brown Leather Jacket
When it comes to choosing the right shoes, you want to look for styles that are comfortable and sophisticated. A few pairs of black or beige pumps, ankle boots, and knee boots should do the trick. Avoid wearing any casual or overly flashy footwear.
Not only do heels and pointed toes offer elegance, but they also create the illusion of longer legs. When selecting the perfect pair, however, make sure it’s comfortable; choose wisely based on heel height.
- Christian Louboutin: Kate 85 Patent-Leather Beige Pumps
- Christian Louboutin: Kate 85 Patent-Leather Black Pumps
- Gianvito Rossi: 85 Leather Slingback Neutral Pumps
- Aeyde: Viv Neutral Leather Knee Boots
- Stuart Weitzman: Stuart 75 Suede Taupe Ankle Boots (Similar)
- By Far: Este Off-White Leather Ankle Boots
Accessories can transform an outfit, so don’t forget to add a few pieces to your business casual capsule wardrobe. Look for classy necklaces, earrings, and bracelets in silver or gold tones.
Additionally, look for quality leather belts and bags in neutral colors. The bag should be large enough to fit all of your essentials and should also have a sophisticated shape.
Lastly, pick a few scarves depending on the season.
- Saint Laurent: Manhattan Off-White Leather Shoulder Bag
- Saint Laurent: Manhattan Small Croc-Effect Black Patent-Leather Shoulder Bag
- Bottega Veneta: Grasp Black Textured-Leather Belt
A business casual capsule wardrobe is essential for any modern professional. By having a few essential pieces in your closet, you will be able to easily create stylish, timeless looks for any occasion.
Start by investing in quality basics such as blouses, trousers, and button-down shirts. Then add a few statement pieces like coats, jackets, and shoes to complete your wardrobe. Finally, accessorize with necklaces, bags, and scarves to create a polished look.
By following these simple tips, you will have a functional and stylish business casual capsule wardrobe in no time. Good luck!
Featured image by Blue Arauz.