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HOW TO BUILD A
CAPSULE WARDROBE FOR WORK

This January, designers from most major fashion houses embarked again on the annual tradition of launching capsule collections for the upcoming Chinese New Year. Fendi celebrates the year of the Ox with a Red Capsule, Saint Laurent added a Chinese Twist to their style and Gucci printed the famous manga character Doraemon on their clothes.

Words By Marina Hoyer

11/05/2021

To embrace the spirit of capsules, you neither have to buy a whole designer collection, nor do you need a special occasion. In fact, the best way to follow the concept introduced by Donna Karan in the 80s can be found in your daily life. Not sure where and how to start? Staiy’s here to help! Just keep reading to discover how to build your own capsule wardrobe for work.

“Why do I need a capsule wardrobe for work?”


A capsule wardrobe is a collection that consists of a reduced number of key pieces. They are usually characterised by
high quality, a timeless style and neutral colours, making it easy to combine them interchangeably and wearing them season after season.
Especially at the office, you probably aim at a professional, polished but still effortless look. A capsule wardrobe for work is perfect to achieve that, while also being much lighter on the environment. Bonus: No more hectically going through your clothes in the morning trying to put together an outfit (“Arghhh! I don’t have anything to wear!!”). 

“What should I look out for to build my own capsule wardrobe for work?”

The point of a capsule wardrobe is that you don’t need infinite piles of clothes any more, but may rely on a few staple items. To make it possible to match all pieces with each other, it can be helpful to stick to one colour palette. When it comes to a capsule wardrobe for work, three-colour families are especially suitable:

  1. Earthy neutrals such as off-white, beige, soft nude and natural brown are perfect for the office. Colder seasons call for darker browns while summery temperatures allow you to dress in bright hues. All shades of brown are usually associated with strength and reliability, but also warmth and comfort.
  2. Any of the tones on the black-and-white spectrum are a safe bet too. These can range from pure white over lighter and darker grays, to charcoal and deep black. While black evokes a sense of power, authority and strength, white often brings to mind feelings of clarity and cleanliness. It therefore does not come as a surprise that black and white are the traditional colours of business attire. Shades of black and gray can frequently be found in formal suits for both men and women.
  3. The third classic colour family for a professional environment are hues of blue. Navy blue is especially popular in blazers, jackets, trousers, chinos or pencil skirts, while a light sky blue is often found in cotton shirts. These shades of blue can also be paired well with whites and beiges. Blue is usually perceived as calm, serene, orderly, stable and dependable.

Apart from colours, make sure that your capsule wardrobe for work is timeless and does not follow fast fashion trends. It is also advisable to invest in quality rather than quantity. Both material and fit should be excellent, so you can find joy in your capsule wardrobe for a long time.

“I need some inspiration for my capsule wardrobe for work.”

We have you covered with 7 sustainable slow-fashion key pieces to kick off your capsule wardrobe for work including alternative versions.

1. The Classical Shirt

The number one essential for a capsule wardrobe for work is, of course, a classic white cotton shirt. Depending on your office dress code, it can be worn formally with a pencil skirt, blazer and pumps, dressed down with mom jeans and a pair of Stan Smiths, or given a fashionable touch with skinny cigarette trousers, loafers, statement earrings and bold lipstick.
For a little twist to the traditional office staple, try a buttonless blouse with a polished look. Feeling extra daring? Maybe a more eye-catching version of the classic white shirt is for you — but don’t forget to wear a work-appropriate camisole underneath.

2. The a-little-less-classic shirt

The second shirt in your capsule wardrobe for work should be a colour that is different from white, but is still neutral and goes well with both jeans and elegant skirts. For that, a blue-white striped cotton shirt is your best friend because it will immediately make you come across as put-together and neat, no matter how you combine it. If you want a more feminine look, you can switch the cotton with a soft nude satin shirt.

3. The light sweater

A light sweater is crucial to anybody’s capsule wardrobe for work. Wear it alone in spring and autumn or over one of your shirts in winter. Ideally, it should come in a neutral, light colour and be made of a high-quality material, such as cashmere or merino wool. A more casual option could be a loose-fitted cable knit in a colour like sand.

 

Afora World – Arlo White Shirt

 

Thokk Thokk – Mom cropped jeans

4. The Blazer

Another must-have is a double-breasted navy blue blazer. This colour is neither too formal (unlike black or grey) nor too out-there (any neon colours). Subtle details like golden buttons add a stylish touch while still keeping your appearance professional. To brighten up your office apparel, opt for a lighter colour and a more airy fabric, such as linen.

5. The Perfect Pair of Jeans

Let’s admit it, the majority of us luckily do not have to wear a business suit to the office on a daily basis. Especially if you work in the creative industry, chances are that denim is more than acceptable. Nevertheless, your office jeans still have to count as appropriate. Eccentric colours, a bleached, distressed finish or an overly shiny coating should better be worn during your leisure time. It is essential that your jeans flatter your body type and are neither too tight nor too baggy. In terms of colour, the best option is charcoal. Other safe choices include night blue or black.

6. The timeless fitted trousers

Compared to jeans as a more casual staple, your capsule wardrobe for work should also include a pair of high-quality classic fitted suit trousers in a dark colour. Whether it’s a meeting with a client or an important presentation, there are always days at the office where business attire is required. A fabulous alternative to black trousers is a belted trousers in organic linen. Although still making you look put-together and polished, they give off a somewhat softer vibe.

Miu Sutin – Trousers ref Balta

Trace Collective – The Belted Trousers

7.The Skirt

One piece that should definitely not be missing in your capsule wardrobe for work either is a skirt. To make sure your garment is office-appropriate, go for an effortless flowy silhouette in a neutral, dark colour and midi-length. One of the perks of this style is that it can be combined in endless ways. Vintage tennis shoes make it look cool and laid-back; ballet flats, slingbacks or kitten heels lend a feminine touch; laced boots or chelsea boots keep you warm in winter; and elegant pumps turn the skirt into a proper business look.
If you prefer a bright and airy look, try a light grey below-the-knee skirt and combine it with your white blouse or soft sweater.