Business casual capsule wardrobes are fantastic in that they can work for everyone: from minimalists to closet junkies. Business casual capsule wardrobes can function as stand-alone closets that provide you an easy way to style outfits every morning before work. They can also function as foundation wardrobes, that you can add to with designer and eclectic pieces.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of pieces that build the foundation of your closet. They are pieces that can be easily mixed-and-matched between each other and that span multiple seasons. Additionally, pieces in your capsule wardrobe should be ones that are classic and unlikely to go out of style.
A capsule wardrobe can be the entirety of your closet, as these foundation pieces can create multiple looks. This is especially appealing if you are seeking a more minimalist approach to your wardrobe (or life).
A capsule wardrobe can also be the foundation of your closet which is complemented by other pieces outside the capsule. This can include investment pieces (e.g. designer) or more eclectic pieces (e.g. unique prints, trendy styles).
Why have a capsule wardrobe for work?
A business casual capsule wardrobe is one of the most important capsule wardrobes to build. This is because dressing for work is one of the most predictable day-to-day events. Outside of like, let’s say a pandemic, you know you will have to dress for work in certain dress code on a certain schedule.
Therefore, it makes sense to have a business casual capsule wardrobe. It will reduce the time you spend staring bleary-eyed at your closet in the morning trying to figure out what you wear.
Instead, you will have a collection of go-to pieces that can all be mixed-and-matched in whichever way you like.
No worrying about if it matches or looks good.
What to include in a business casual capsule wardrobe?
A business casual capsule should include a variety of pieces that cover the sphere of what you will need for work events. This includes everyday work outfits as well as work outfits for more unique events, such as important client meetings.
A business casual capsule should also work year-round.
In general, my guidelines for a business casual capsule wardrobe are as follows:
- 3 Business Casual Dresses
- 2 Blazers
- 5 Blouses/shirts
- 3 Pants
- 2 Skirts
- 2 Heels
- 2 Flats
- 1 Boots
Remember, these are general guidelines that you should adjust to your specific preferences.
If you hate skirts, remove them and replace them with a couple more pairs of pants. If you don’t wear heels, replace them with additional flats or boots.
In order to truly keep it as a capsule, try not to add TOO many additional pieces but try to replace them instead.
If you do live in a colder climate, you will probably need at least a *few* additional pieces in the capsule for wintertime (e.g. sweaters).
You should not need any additional shoes, however. I live in Boston where it gets quite cold. I typically wear snow boots in the wintertime TO work and change to my work shoes as soon as I am in the building.
There is no outerwear on the list, as this is not typically worn *in* the office. If you have a lot of work-related meetings outside the office (e.g. at restaurants), you’ll want to also add 1-2 outerwear pieces depending on your climate.
Also, make sure you have a versatile work bag to pair with your wardrobe. Check out my recommendations for the best work bags for women.
So what specific pieces do I recommend for your business casual capsule wardrobe?
Read on for my picks for every budget and how you can style them.
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Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe Recommendations
Below I outline my recommendations for the components in a business casual capsule wardrobe. I have categorized them into more affordable options and mid-to-high range pieces.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to stick to ONLY budget options or only mid- to high- range pieces.
In fact, I recommend you mix it up depending on which pieces are worth investing on (more on that below)
Dresses are a cornerstone of my business casual wardrobe. Business dresses typically fall into the more formal side and the less formal.
More formal business dresses are more fitted, solid in color, knee (or just above the knee) in length.
Consider how you spend the majority of your business hours to determine which types of dresses you want to add to your capsule.
If you have a lot of client meetings, you’ll want at least 2 of your dresses on the more formal side.
If you spend the majority of the time in the office, you can have at least 2 of your dresses on the less formal side (think flowy, patterned, less fitted).
But you should always have at least one dress that can be worn to more important business occasions.
If you are able I recommend investing in one high-quality business casual dress for important occasions. My absolute favorites are from L.K. Bennett (below) because their materials are so high quality and the fit is fantastic. But, they are definitely an investment.
Mid to High-End:
Blazers can get really expensive really fast.
In my experience, the most important thing about a blazer is the fit. You DON’T need to spend a lot of money to get a really good looking blazer.
In fact, this is one area where I think you can stay very affordable.
Get budget blazers, and then take them to a tailor. A budget blazer that has been fitted to you will look expensive.
Remember, have at least ONE black blazer.
Mid to High-End:
This is a staple in every business casual capsule wardrobe.
For button down shirts, I really prefer flowy materials. Think silk, chiffon, or polyester blends that give a similar feel.
Some people love a good cotton button-down. I think those are great too, it’s just personal preference in the feel.
I recommend owning at least one white or black button down, and the rest you can have fun with colors or patterns.
Similar to button-downs, I like flowy styles in blouses.
I think a tucked-in flowy blouse with a tailored pant or skirt is a very elegant but comfortable look.
You can have a lot of fun here with patterns, prints, details, and sleeve length.
Mid to High-End:
For bottoms, make a call on whether you a more a pant-person or skirt-person. Or maybe an even mix?
From there, you can adjust the number of pants and skirts you add to your capsule.
Pants is another area where I think investment is wise.
The key to pants, like blazers, is fit. But unlike blazers, is more difficult to take a cheaper pair of pants and tailor them to look expensive. Materials matter a lot in this clothing piece.
If you are not able to invest in higher-end pants (Theory are my favorite), I recommend you move more towards skirts where it is easier to get a polished look on a budget.
But, if you do want to get some budget-friendly pants, look for ones that are less fitted.
Mid to High-End:
Pencil skirt are my JAM.
They give a really polished look, you can get some really great affordable pencil skirts, and it’s so much fun to pair them with patterned blouses.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on pencil skirts, and it is another item you can definitely tailor.
If you are adding more skirts than pants in your business casual capsule wardrobe, you can also throw in a fun, flowy skirt for the everyday office look in spring and summer.
Mid to High-End:
Shoes is the one category I have not divided by budget. That is because I think mid-range shoes ($50-150) are really the only way to go.
You don’t want to buy cheap shoes, as they will wear and break very quickly.
You don’t want break a heel in the middle of the work day.
But, you also don’t need to break the bank on shoes. For $50-150 you can get really good quality, lost-lasting shoes. That’s the route I strongly recommend.
People have strong feeling on heels vs. flats in the office. Some women absolutely refuse to wear heels. I get it.
Personally, I am definitely a heels in the office type girl (and I am 5’9″ without them!).
I think if you can rock heels, they really give a very confident, polished look.
If you wear heels, you need to have one pair of black heels and another nude. You can get away with just those 2 pairs.
You can also have some fun and throw in a fun print (I love Ted Baker for this!).
I still wear flats even though I love heels for the office. Flats are my go-to for casual Fridays.
The absolute BEST flats ever are the day glove from Everlane. These take some breaking in, but they are AMAZING.
They also make an absolutely great loafer, if that is more your style.
As I mentioned in the intro, if you live in a colder climate I highly recommend wearing a different pair of shoes INTO the office and changing once inside.
But I still love a pair of boots or booties in the fall or winter to wear around the office.
I think either a block heel boot or a bootie with a heel is the most elegant way to wear boots in the office.
If you are going with some of my recommendations for your business capsule wardrobe, check out these ideas for how to style your outfits for all your work occasions!
Have you built a business capsule wardrobe? What items did you include?
Let me know below!