What’s a capsule wardrobe?
I’d describe the capsule wardrobe as a selection of a few essential, timeless items that complement each other. The number of essentials can be different for everyone; there also can be different capsules for different seasons.
Most capsules I’ve seen are seasonal, which means wearing a set number of essentials for up to three months. Some bloggers I follow have as many as 50 essential items per season, whereas the owner of Project 333 (33 items for 3 months or one season), Courtney Carver, considers 33 her magic number. The number itself, in my opinion, isn’t important. The pieces you choose should suit your everyday life and fit with your fashion sense.
Why I jumped the capsule wardrobe bandwagon?
A capsule wardrobe:
- encourages one to push their creative boundaries and achieve more with less. That philosophy fits right in with my drive to live a more minimal and meaningful life.
- pushes one to be highly selective. I scrutinized every item for its durability, versatility, and place in my lifestyle before finalizing it. Knowing everything in the capsule is a favorite, my confidence and happiness multiply and I no longer find myself grumpily standing in front of the closet at 7AM feeling like I’ve nothing to wear to work.
- enhances one’s personal brand. It’s important for me to make a solid first impression on everyone I meet at work, especially because most days I’m facing clients. Creating a capsule wardrobe has helped me nail cuts, color palettes, textures, fabrics, and patterns that make me most comfortable and clearly represent my personal and professional values.
- minimizes clothing waste. Knowing I can create endless outfits with a selective number of pieces in my capsule makes me less likely to lurk in stores or be seduced by sales.
What’s in my winter workwear capsule + why?
I decided to create a winter workwear capsule (instead of casual) because I work full-time and am required to adhere to a business casual to formal dress code at my job. In total, there are 30 pieces: 3 bottoms, 3 blazers, 4 shell tops, 5 blouses, 1 cashmere turtleneck, 8 dresses, 1 jumpsuit, 4 heels, and 1 bag.
I planned on choosing 33 pieces, but already felt quite comfortable at 30. This gives me some wiggle room if I’m tempted to buy anything between now and springtime.
Let me provide you details on all the items I’ve included. I’ve added links to pieces that are still available.
They build the foundation of most work outfits, so I opted to keep three bottoms (all old) in classic colors. The black trousers are still available here. They are a ponte fabric with stitched seams and side zip fastening. Super comfy and I’ve never had to iron them! The pencil skirt in black is from Banana Republic. It’s a thin wool fabric, which makes it perfect for cold weather.
The navy blue trousers from Tommy Hilfiger in a crepe material have a traditional straight fit, which make them perfect for any day at work.
The Jigsaw black trousers in black have been my longtime favorite. The stitching came off recently, but I got them fixed at the tailor for $10 and now they are like new again. I love their narrow leg and glove like fit. They have a side zip closure, which makes their look sleek—no bunching!
I’m definitely more of a dress girl, so three well-fitting bottoms are more than enough to last me three months.
I’m not a huge knitwear fan because it’s often too itchy on my sensitive skin, but I heard great things about Everlane’s cashmere. So, I recently ordered this turtleneck from them. I love the relaxed fit. I’ll be wearing it on its own and as a layering piece with tops.
Shells tops are usually regarded as a summer piece, but I’m hoping to wear mine (all old pieces) over my turtleneck as well underneath blazers. I’ve also been able to use these tops to add some color, fun, and pattern to my workwear palette.
I love the flare on the olive green. The check pattern on the turtleneck is timeless. I would never wear turquoise on its own, but combined with navy and black, the third top makes for a great layering piece. The last one with flowers also adds a nice feminine touch to the wardrobe.
Considering I’ve only included three bottoms, it was crucial for to me add a variety of blouses. My most favorite is a silk necktie blouse, so I’ve included three of my well-loved silk blouses. The Hallhuber blouse in black—bottom right—is currently available here).
I also love a classic button down. I only own one, so of course it made to my winter workwear capsule. This one is from Eterna, which is a sustainable clothing brand specializing in shirts. I have the slimfit with stretch and it wears and washes like a dream. I wear it almost every week either on its own or underneath a sleeveless dress.
The top middle is a peplum style top from Hugo Boss in 100% wool. It’s soft yet structured, which makes it perfect for work. I absolutely loved wearing it last winter with skirts and trousers alike, as you’d see in this post.
I’m a dress girl through and through. I find they suit my pear-shaped body more than separates, and I love the variety in the cuts of dresses far more than trousers. So no wonder, I decided to keep a total of 8 in my wardrobe. I love wearing the sleeveless dresses with my white button down underneath.
Most of them are form-fitting with an exception of two. Their fabrics vary from cotton to wool and tweed to crepe, fitting all seasons within the Dutch winter. Most of them are warm on their own, but I can style them with a blazer as well.
I never thought I could wear a black jumpsuit to work until I styled this one in three professional ways: with belt, blazer and white button down. I love all three looks, so this piece had to make it to my capsule.
In my opinion, a workwear wardrobe is incomplete without a blazer. It takes a simple outfit to the next level.
I’m very picky about the cuts of blazers though. The traditional lapels create a strange pocket due to my generous bust, so I tend to favor more boxy, cropped styles like the black tweed and grey houndstooth ones. The latter I’ve had for over three years, whereas the former is fairly new.
I decided to step out of my comfort zone and bought the bottom left checkered, double-breasted grey blazer earlier this year. I have loved it so far and will continue styling it through the winter!
Not all women in my industry wear heels and I used to not always wear them either. With time, I’ve come to feel more polished and confident in them. And now if I don’t finish off my work outfits with a pair of heels, something feels amiss.
Therefore, I decided to include one burgundy pair, two black ones (one classic and one slingback), and a camel pair. They are all about three inches tall and very comfortable to walk in too.
I don’t like wearing boots inside the office. They make me too warm. I tend to wear them only during my commute, that’s why I’ve not added any to the workwear capsule.
Most women tend to opt for a tote bag, but I like a petite structured bag for my daily essentials. For everything else like lunch and office heels, I use a separate tote. This way my more luxurious work handbag doesn’t get food stains or scratches, and maintains its shape for a long time.
What I’ve not included in the winter workwear capsule
I chose to not include casual clothing, accessories, underwear, outerwear, pyjamas, and loungewear. I don’t have a lot of items in these categories anyway, nor am I ever tempted to impulse buy these items. Workwear is definitely my spending weakness, that’s why I’ve chosen to create a workwear capsule and create spending discipline.
If you’d like to follow along my workwear capsule journey, I’ll post outfits that I style with these items on my Instagram feed and stories, as well as this blog. At the end of the season, I’m hoping to post what worked and what could be improved, so stay tuned. Fingers crossed I can stick to the wardrobe until spring!
Until next time, lovelies! xx