After a year and a half of only having our co-workers see the upper half of our bodies, we’re getting back to planning complete outfits that are workplace appropriate. And of all things to worry about, one of the big ones is … what to wear to the office.
We’re rounding up the essential work clothes you need for your capsule work wardrobe!
What is a capsule work wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a selection of pieces that are timeless and classic and that go with just about everything. We have an entire blog post all about creating a capsule wardrobe here!
A capsule work wardrobe is exactly as it sounds. It’s a collection of tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories that won’t fade in style with each season. Plus, they should all complement each other so you can mix and match pieces to create multiple outfits for your work week.
The beauty of building one is that you’ll take the frustration out of shopping for new clothes season after season, especially if you take great care of your clothes. And you’ll take the frustration out of figuring out what to wear each morning.
Your Capsule Work Wardrobe Essentials List:
Your essentials list includes everything from tops and shirts, to pants, dresses and skirts, and shoes. It’ll take some time to find all the right pieces. But in the end, it’ll be totally worth it!
And to help you narrow down what you should focus on, we’ve narrowed down the essential work clothes for women and men!
Tops and Shirts for Women
The first top you’ll need to find is a great blouse in a classic design. These tops are the perfect combination of femininity and sophistication. So fill your capsule work wardrobe with them! We recommend sticking with solid colours for this one and focusing more on the design to let your style show. That way it’s sure to mix and match with all of the trousers and skirts you buy, too.
- Knit top or jumpers
A knit top or a jumper will be perfect for colder months when you head to the office. Not to mention, most offices are freezing! So classic knitwear is perfect for essential work clothes for women.
These are items that fall under the “you get what you pay for” category, so keep that in mind. A great quality jumper will last you a long time! You might want to search for one in high-quality wool or cashmere.
Look for a jumper in a beige, camel, or cream colour. Those will look chic, and they’ll pair well with your other pieces! Not to mention, you can easily dress them up with accessories, too.
- Short sleeves or sleeveless shirts
Short sleeves or sleeveless shirts are perfect for the spring and summer months. You can easily toss a cardigan or a blazer over top of it for meetings to give your outfit more of a sophisticated aesthetic, too. And you can slip your outerwear off to get a little comfier at your desk!
Let your style come out with these tops by finding unique colours and patterns. Just make sure they match the other pieces in your wardrobe!
- Oxford shirts
The quintessential piece of office work clothing! You’ll definitely need a nice oxford shirt in your work wardrobe. They’re perfect for adding professionalism to any outfit, whether you pair them with trousers or a skirt.
You can never go wrong with a plain white oxford shirt. But you may also want to add in a couple with different patterns or colours to mix it up!
Tops and Shirts for Men
- Oxford shirts
These are the shirts you’ll be reaching for on repeat if you’re heading back to the office. They’re perfect for professionalism, and you can still dress them down for a more business casual look.
We recommend stocking up on quite a few high-quality oxford shirts. As far as colours go, absolutely grab at least one white one. After that, add in some variety by choosing a few colours and patterns.
- Knit top or jumper
A jumper makes for a perfect addition to your capsule work wardrobe. It’ll come in handy in the colder months and when the office is cold. They’ll still look business appropriate and professional, especially if you stick to solid, neutral colours. Go for a white or cream colour, black, brown, grey, or navy.
Pants and Trousers for Women
If you’re not in the mood to wear a dress or skirt, then go for a pair of trousers! They don’t have to be dull. You can easily find plenty that fit your personal style. Find some that have different lengths, different waists like paper bag waistlines or high-waisted, and different cuts like a skinny or wide leg.
As for colours, we always recommend going for the neutrals like grey or black. But a few pairs in some bright bold colours like red or emerald green can look amazing, too!
- Nice jeans
This one depends on your office culture. If your office is okay with casual Fridays or even casual dresses at any time, then definitely add a pair of nice jeans to your capsule work wardrobe. Be sensible about it, of course! Under the classic category of “what not to wear to work:” jeans that have holes or rips in them.
Pants and Trousers for Men
These will be your go-to for work clothes for men. Find quite a few pairs in several different colours to add to your capsule work wardrobe. You want to make sure they fit well and aren’t too tight or too baggy. We recommend sticking with conservative colours to start with like black, navy, grey, or khaki. If your workplace allows it, add in a few other colours to inject your style into your wardrobe!
- Nice jeans
You’ll need to feel out your workplace to see if they allow jeans at all. If they do, find jeans that fit nicely and don’t have any rips or holes in them. We like the darker washes for jeans in the workplace! They look a little more professional than the lighter washes. Plus you can add your new jeans to your daily capsule wardrobe, too!
Skirts and Dresses for Women
- Sheath dress
You’ll need a few dresses in your capsule work wardrobe, too. A sheath dress is one of the most professional outfits you can buy for work clothes for women. They’re incredibly easy to wear since it’s an outfit in itself. Pair it with a fitted blazer or a trench coat and accessorise it, and you’re good to go!
- Pencil skirt
Pencil skirts are super versatile workwear. You can pair it with blouses, sleeveless tops, jumpers, or oxford shirts. Find a few that are neutral colours so you can easily style them with your other pieces!
- Midi skirt
Just about any kind of midi skirt is an excellent choice of work clothes for women. You can choose different colours, patterns, and styles to match your collection, too!
Outerwear Work Clothes for Men and Women
- Fitted blazer or tailored jacket
A tailored jacket or a fitted blazer is a necessity for work clothes for men and women! Toss it on over one of your dress shirts or even a jumper to add more structure to your outfit. Add it to a dress or pencil skirt outfit to add structure and professionalism.
- Trench coat
A trench coat is a great choice for both men and women, too! It’s the perfect outerwear piece for commuting to and from the office. And it looks great over just about anything. Go for the traditional colours like camel, beige, or grey. If you want to read more about the essential coats, like the trench, check out our blog post here!
Shoes for Women
Flats of all kinds are among the most comfortable shoes to wear to work for women. Not to mention, you can find different styles to match your own aesthetic. We still love the look of a ballet flat. Plus we love the style of modern loafers and mules! Go for neutral colours like black, grey, and tan. Or, if your collection is relatively full of neutrals, you might want to add in a pop of colour with your shoe choice!
Just because they’re heels doesn’t mean they can’t be comfortable. And heels are some of the most timeless and professional shoes you can have for your work wardrobe! Classic black heels look excellent for business attire. And a nude heel can make your legs look even longer.
Shoes for Men
These shoes are great, comfortable shoes for men to wear to work. They’re an excellent business casual shoe that will pair perfectly with trousers and oxford shirts.
- Derby shoes
Derby shoes are another office-appropriate shoe for men. They’re dressier than loafers but not as formal as oxford shoes. If you’re looking for a good option with laces to wear to the office, this is the style!
How to choose items for your capsule work wardrobe
Now that you have your whole list of essential work clothes you need to head back to the office, the big part is choosing what to buy. We know that can be as overwhelming as figuring out what you need. That’s why we’re sharing our top 5 tips on how to choose items for your capsule work wardrobe.
Find what makes you feel comfortable and confident
You always want to stick with what’s going to make you feel comfortable and confident. When you feel good, your work performance will be so much better! You won’t be too preoccupied with trying to get comfortable with your clothes.
No matter what’s trendy, pass on the pieces that make you feel anything less than totally comfortable and confident.
Keep your office culture in mind
A lot of what you choose when it comes to what to wear to work will depend on your office culture. If you work in a more traditional, conservative office space, you’ll need to stick with professional work clothes. That more than likely means more timeless, classic pieces (so everything in our list will be perfect!) in neutral colours.
If you work in a more relaxed environment, you can go for outfits that are trendier and bolder in colour and pattern.
When in doubt, go for neutrals
You can never go wrong with neutral colours. They make for the sleekest, chicest, and most professional work outfit pieces. If you’re not sure about the colour, stick with black, white, greys, tans and browns, and navy.
Make sure it matches your other pieces
The point of a capsule work wardrobe is to take the overwhelm out of deciding what to purchase for work clothes! So when you buy your pieces, make sure they match with the majority of your collection.
What clothes to avoid for your capsule work wardrobe
While we listed the essential work clothes for men and women above, we also know there might be some questions on what not to wear to work. So we’ve rounded up the biggest no-no’s when it comes to clothes to avoid for your work wardrobe.
Dirty or wrinkled clothes
Always be sure to wash and hang your clothes so they’re in excellent condition for your work day. If you need to, be sure to iron any dress pants, skirts, and shirts so everything looks professional. You don’t want to walk in with your clothes all wrinkled!
Tight or revealing clothes
Steer clear of clothes that fit too tightly or reveal too much. Shirts that rise above the waist of your trousers or skirts won’t do any favours for your professionalism. And skirts, dresses, or trousers that fit too snuggly won’t win you any points in the conference room. If there’s any doubt on whether something is too tight or revealing, it’s probably best to choose different pieces instead.
Anything too casual
Unless it’s casual Friday, you’ll want to avoid wearing clothing that’s too casual to the office. Your outfits should always represent your professionalism! So even if your company’s policy is relaxed on the attire, stay away from wearing leggings or ripped denim. And definitely don’t wear sweats or pyjamas to work!
Anything that makes it too difficult to work
If you have clothes that get in your way, it will impede your ability to work. Avoid any pieces that have long, loose sleeves that cover your hands. Or extra long and trailing dresses, skirts, or trousers that can get caught in your chair or even cause you (or someone else) to trip!
A capsule work wardrobe is filled with essential work clothes that can be mixed and matched with one another. It’s a great way to take the overwhelm and frustration of deciding what to wear each day. And if you’re ready to start building your capsule wardrobe for work clothes, we can help you! Click here to start shopping!