How to Build a Work Wardrobe in 6 Easy Steps
It’s no exaggeration to say that a killer capsule wardrobe can transform your working life. An immaculately put together work wardrobe is like a modern suit of armor; not only will it save you tons of time, money and mental energy on a daily basis, more importantly it can lend you the sense of assertiveness and well-being you need to smash your day and ultimately progress your career.
It’s definitely possible to create your capsule with clothing you already own - in fact, it’s a great idea - but there’s nothing wrong with carefully investing in key pieces you’re fairly confident you will love, wear and repair to death. Read on for the steps you’ll need to create a killer capsule no matter your place of work.
The Key Principles: Capsule, Comfort, Confidence, Quality
- Capsule. There’s a reason uniforms are a thing; work clothes don’t need to be new and exciting, they need to be fit for purpose. You’ll save so much time and decision-making capacity every morning of your life if you can reach for a small range of reliable items you know you’ll feel good in.
- Comfort. The last thing you need during a busy day at work is to be worrying about your clothing or footwear. You’ve got enough on your plate! If thoughts keep flitting back to an itchy seam or a tight shirt that makes you self conscious there’s no way you can be present or focused enough to smash your day.
- Confidence. To do our best work we all need to feel confident, and the best way to jumpstart that feeling is through clothing. One or two key items that make you instantly feel five feet taller are an amazing secret work weapon.
- Quality. Especially when you have a capsule wardrobe, your work clothes need to stand up to rigorous daily wear whilst looking professional and put together - quality is key.
1. Identify the style you want to achieve
Window shopping for inspiration is the fun bit! Take some time to figure out the styles you really like, bearing in mind that the majority of your closet isn’t necessarily “your style.” (We stockpile clothing for lots of unfathomable emotional reasons.) Thinking about people from your place of work whose style you admire is a great place to start. Do you love strong tailored pieces or slouchy, oversized garments? Are you more drawn to sophisticated neutrals or bursts of bright colour? Make a note of your preferences.
2. Find 2-3 garments that make you feel unstoppable
Clothing that is a small step outside your comfort zone can be like a magic cloak of confidence on the days you really need it. What are the garments that make you feel on top of your game? Have you always wanted to wear a jumpsuit to work but never taken the plunge? Do heeled shoes paired with a pencil skirt give you a spring in your step? Carefully identifying items that make you feel powerful is a game changer in a work wardrobe.
3. Identify 2 - 3 versatile hero pieces
The LBD is a classic workwear piece for a reason. It’s not just that a black dress nearly always looks amazing (although it does), but more that an LBD can be both smart and relaxed, professional and stylish in one easy-to-wear garment. Simple, good quality dresses and jumpsuits in neutral or dark colours work in exactly the same way. A work wardrobe should comprise a few of these highly versatile, hero pieces - the ones you can reach for on a rush morning and think ‘thank God that’s there!’
4. Build in basics around your key pieces
Once you have your confidence boosters and your versatile heroes, it’s time to build up from there. High quality basics will help glue your capsule together. Simple black or white t-shirts are a great investment if you’ve got any bright or patterned bottoms, and work brilliantly under strappy dresses and jumpsuits to adapt your wardrobe to different seasons. Likewise, high quality jeans or black trousers can be a morning saviour. Basically, anything that will help pull different outfits together and aid layering. These should ideally be unpatterned and neutral to increase your combination options, but if you just love your colour (and it’s appropriate for your office), stick to block colours and try to stick to a core complementary colour palette.
5. Add in hardworking accessories
Nothing quite elevates stress levels unnecessarily than constantly switching between multiple bags. Finding an amazing work bag that looks smart, goes with everything, is comfortable for your commute, and neatly holds your daily essentials is crucial to a well-oiled work wardrobe.
Two to three pairs of shoes should be enough; a super comfortable flat option and a smarter, dressier option should stand you in good stead no matter your workplace. Comfortable underwear is a no-brainer, and investing in a few pairs of high quality tights that won’t ladder after three wears will dramatically reduce your chances of last minute wardrobe crises on your way out the door.
6. Identify gaps that need filling
Lay out all the pieces you’ve compiled and throw yourself a bedroom fashion show, trying on as many combinations as you can. Note how you feel in each outfit and what is missing. Perhaps you need to invest in one more killer item if your capsule lacks excitement, or a couple more neutral basics will help you get more wear out of key pieces. You might want to even hold off on this step for a while - wearing a capsule over a few weeks can give you a better sense of what’s missing before you invest in anything.
And, you’re done! Once you’re happy, ensure your morning routine (and your laundry routine) is as stress-free as possible by keeping your work clothes visually separate - another rail or a divider within your existing wardrobe works well. If you can manage these six steps you can dramatically reduce the amount of time spent mentally battling your own clothes each morning, leaving you relaxed, put-together and confident enough to smash the day ahead.