How to create the ultimate chic, work capsule wardrobe

There are two ways to create a capsule wardrobe: the way that most people do it; and the way that I do it.

A workwear capsule wardrobe the way most people do it

The chances are that if you’ve tried to create a capsule wardrobe or work capsule wardrobe before you’ve probably tried it the way that most people do it.

This is: You pick a few items that go together, and call it a capsule wardrobe. You might initially be a little bit excited about having created a capsule collection, but a few days or week’s in and you are soon fed up of wearing the same clothes every day that are ‘ok’, but somehow feel wrong: boring; dull; don’t fit your body or match your personality.

So you wear the outfits you’ve created a couple of times and then revert to just choosing items from your wardrobe/closet.

And then the idea of creating a small number of clothes that work together and that you wear consistently is gone. That feeling of freedom you had, fleetingly, when someone mentioned this idea of narrowing down your clothing choices in order to enlarge your life, has gone.

Do you know this feeling?

I think that a lot of women have experienced it.

Spring clothes on a metal rail. Accompanies the blog post on How to create the ultimate chic work capsule wardrobe

In the long run this doesn’t work

The problem with this way is that it’s all about the clothes: Pick X number of items that go together and wear them, and only them.

This doesn’t work.

The reason it doesn’t work is because this method is all about the what. The clothes are the what.

Choose X number of clothes, wear them, look great.

And the reason that doesn’t work is because it’s not about the clothes.

It’s never about the clothes.

Why your office capsule wardrobe is all about you!

So, what is it about if it’s not about the clothes?

Well, it’s about you. 

It’s about the who.

and you are the who in question.

Who are you and how do you want to show up each day? What do you want to show the world of yourself?

Whether you’re the CEO of your own company or a full-time mum aka CEO of your own family, whether you’re a world traveller, or a stay at home book worm

It’s always about you.

Which leads me to the second way to create your capsule workwear wardrobe, my way.

My unique insight into your work wardrobe

Most people writing about capsule wardrobes aren’t designers. They are lifestyle bloggers, or organisational experts, or stylists.

But I’m a clothes designer. And that gives me a unique perspective on women and their relationship with clothes.

In my opinion, a capsule collection starts with who you are, what you want in life, who you want to be in this world.

A capsule collection starts with not what (what clothes are you going to wear), but with who:

Who are you?

Collage of a woman in pale beige summer clothes. Accompanies the blog post on How to create the ultimate chic work capsule wardrobe

Choosing the right pieces for you

How do you feel about choosing your clothes, and let’s get really specific here, how do you feel about choosing your work clothes, your work capsule wardrobe from a position of who you are, from your identity?

That might sound daunting to begin with. It might seem easier just to pick a few clothes and put them together and wear them. I know the thought can scare a lot of women and in fact many women would not know where to start if I asked them to choose clothes based on who they are.

However, being conscious of the identity you want to portray and understanding that when you get dressed you are in the process of self creation is fundamental to looking and feeling amazing every day.

Often we think our looks have gone, that we look like a total mess, that we’ve “let thing slip”, whereas in fact something else is at play. That something else is the act of self creation. That is what is missing.

This is why other methods of creating capsule wardrobes don’t work. They might look pretty on Pinterest or Instagram with images of clothes all laid neatly out. And don’t get me wrong I absolutely love all those images.

But that’s all they are. Images.

There’s no heart, soul or real woman there. There’s no life waiting to be dressed.

It’s a mistake to start with your clothes.

Always start with you.

And with your act of self creation.

And so this blog post, if you are reading, or podcast, if you are listening, is to help you start with you.

And that’s why I’ve given this blog post the title that I have: How to create the ultimate chic work capsule wardrobe.

You don’t turn up to anything hoping to be mediocre, or wanting to be less than you could be.

So don’t let this apply to your clothes.

It’s all too easy to do that. ‘I don’t look like I used to.’ ‘I’ve put on weight’. ‘I’ll concentrate on myself when I’ve changed jobs.’ ‘I don’t know where to start.’ All of those negative phrases going on in our heads pull us down and lead us to accept mediocre for our lives.

But you don’t need to accept mediocre. That’s why we are going to create the ‘ultimate’ ‘chic’ work capsule wardrobe for you.

You weren’t created to be less than, or mediocre.

You are created to be you, the fullness of you, the beauty of you.

Whatever your age, job, career, life situation.

You are created to be amazing and awesome.

And we are going to package that awesomeness into 7 pieces of clothing that you absolutely love.

And we are doing that by starting with who you are.

So, are you ready to dive in? Let’s go!

I’ve created a table of contents to help you navigate around the blog post which is here:

I’ve also created the ultimate guide for you:

Create a 7 piece capsule wardrobe in under an hour without spending money

which you can use to accompany this blog post and take real action to create your own capsule wardrobe that suits you and your work needs.

Step 1: What do you want to be known for?

When you turn up for work each day, what do you want to be known for? What daily impression do you want to make?

If you think about Coco Chanel, you might picture her in her trademark tweed suit. Perpetually chic, practical and stylish. If you think of any other woman who has a high profile in your industry or field of work, how do you think of them? What do you notice about their clothes and how they present themselves?

That impression that you want to make based on how you want to present yourself should be what guides you to decide what you want to wear each day.

You probably already know that this is the case. And you probably are trying each day to be present and look like the amazing woman that yu are.

But it is hard work.

Unless you’ve got it planned out and dialled in.

Which is when your chic and stylish capsule wardrobe enters its own.

By choosing garments that really resonate with your highest self, you’ll ensure that when you wear the items in your capsule wardrobe, you are always dressing from your authority, competence and innate style.

Collage of clothes from a capsule wardrobe. Accompanies the blog post on How to create the ultimate chic work capsule wardrobe

Step 2: Self-creation: You and your work style

What is your work style? What unspoken messages are you conveying, or do you want to convey, with your clothing choice?

Is your work style intentional or has it grown up organically over time. The first thing that you need to think about is exactly this point. And then the next point that we want to address is do you want to convey a different message to the one you are conveying right now?

One of the delights of creating a capsule wardrobe, and in this case a business capsule wardrobe, is that you create an intentional look from a small number of garments which gives you the opportunity to experiment with your style.

Regardless of the type of work environment you are working in it is completely up to you what you choose to wear.

And how you show up at work each day, whether it’s on Zoom or in person will convey a distinct message to your work colleagues.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again here: We are always communicating, so let’s be intentional about what we are communicating.

So think about your work style and what kind of clothes you want to wear each day that conveys that kind of style. 

A simple starting point is to ask yourself whether you want to wear the latest trends, or have a more classic style. Another starting point is to think of types of clothing items and ask yourself which you prefer to wear. For example shoes: Do you prefer to wear knee-high boots or a closed toe pair of court shoes? If dresses do you want to wear a classic wool shift dress for a fitted, slightly sexy wrap dress? Magazines are a great source of inspiration too. 

Step 3: Separate home and office outfits

Another point to consider is do you have specific office outfits for work. And would you like whatever arrangement you have to continue or to change? During the height of the pandemic, for most of us our office and home lives blended entirely. Now we are getting much more of a separation between the two back. And I really welcome this. I address this point further on, but I recommend separating out work outfits from home outfits. By creating work-friendly capsule wardrobes you are enabling yourself to compartmentalise your life which is a good organisational procedure to follow.

Even if you work at home I would really recommend that you have work clothes and home clothes. If you work at home you may have a more casual capsule wardrobe for work than you would do if you were in an office, but you will not regret the practice of creating those clothes specifically for work and keeping them for work week hours only.

Also consider your work environment and whether there is an office dress code policy in place. More formal business environments still have dress code policies in place, so if you are a banker or a lawyer for example, your choice of office outfit will need to respect those guidelines.

close up of a woman with her hands in her pocket. Pale cream outfit and gold bracelet. Accompanies the blog post on How to create the ultimate chic work capsule wardrobe

Creating your chic, classic work capsule wardrobe

Once you’ve got your foundations in place, which is the who, who you are, we can now move to the what.

The clothes is the what.

Why I like to start with a 7-piece capsule wardrobe

The reason that I like to start with a 7-piece capsule collection is that it is a big enough number to create a variety of different outfits, in fact enough for slightly more than a working week. At the same time 7 items is small enough to get your head aroud without becoming overly confused.

My free giveaway, “Create a 7 piece capsule wardrobe in under an hour without spending money” walks you through these steps and helps you create your own stylish capsule collection in a short period of time so click on the link to get hold of your own copy now.

The signature piece

The first piece to choose in your capsule wardrobe is your signature piece. This piece is the one piece that perfectly describes how you felt in steps one and two. It could be a pencil skirt, white blouse, trench coat, leather jacket, wide-leg trousers or little black dress.

What it should do is uniquely sum up the essence of how you want to feel and appear each day.

It’s a garment that makes you feel great, that brightens up your day.

Your 7 piece capsule wardrobe

After you have chosen your statement piece, choose six different pieces to compliment the style of the signature piece. These won’t all be statement pieces they can be a combination of classic pieces which mix and match well and other high-quality pieces which really make your capsule wardrobe unique to you.

Different combinations you can employ in your capsule wardrobe

In order for you to be able to wear the greatest number of outfit combinations you need to incorporate versatile pieces that will enable you to mix and match outfits. I don’t recommend you choose a totally neutral color palette unless this is something that you would wear every day anyway. However some neutral colours balanced with bright colors or colours that you love is a good balance.

Remember, you’ve done all this work to create a work capsule wardrobe that is unique to you and highlights your uniqueness as a woman, so don’t fall at the last hurdle by accepting colours into your wardrobe that you don’t really love. 

​Accessorise your new capsule wardrobe

The final step for today is for you to accessorise your new outfit ideas. I recommend you trialling a process of creating a mini capsule wardrobe of jewellery pieces for your work day. Pick a selection of accessory pieces that conform to all the criteria above. They should represent who you are and how you want to portray yourself. You should have one piece that is a stand out signature piece, and then maybe balance out that signature piece with our timeless pieces. With jewellery you can really reflect your own personal style without overstepping the work office boundary.

Clothes always come second to you

You can see what my method is in the blog post. 

You always come first.

Who you are and who you want to be in your own life.

That comes first.

The clothes come second.

If you are not already in the Chic Authority Collective which is the Working Frocks group of women who are signed up to hear from me on a regular basis in their inbox, then join us today. This is the link:

Join the Chic Authority Collective

Empower your work life with elegance – Join the Chic Authority Collective if you are a go-getter in your career or making a triumphant return, and unlock the door to a realm of exclusive style advice personalized style expertise.
Entrance to our world of elegance is absolutely complimentary. Join us for free and let your style transformation begin.

And if you want to explore this relationship between you, your clothes and your overall wellness, then sign up to be on the waitlist for the Stylish Wellness Institute which opens its doors in the spring. In the Institute we will help you look after your mind and your body: We’ll help you dress the best that you can, aswell as feel as well and as healthy as you are able. 

The link to get onto the wait list is here:

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Don’t wait any longer. Be the first to know when our doors swing open to a world of style, wellness, and empowerment!

There are other blog posts on capsule wardrobes which you can check out here:

Creating a capsule wardrobe (short read)

What is a capsule wardrobe: Why you want one; how to create one

Have a great week,

Sarah

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