Dress Like a Boss: Creating a Capsule Wardrobe for Work
August 24, 20174 min read
As it turns out, to dress like a boss matters. Whether you are the assistant to the assistant manager or the vice president eyeing for the CEO role, showing up to work like a #ladyboss is a great way to make a statement: “I am confident and ready to make an impact.”
But the pressure to look polished without compromising individuality can often weigh heavy, especially when under the microscopic lens of work peers. Will they think I’m too boring if I stick to the basics? Will they assume I’m too experimental if I play around with prints and colors? Will I be too predictable to recycle a favorite black skirt for Monday meetings?
Whichever way you prefer to dress like a boss, it shouldn’t be this painful, right? Thankfully, there’s a trick to showing up at work without spending a fortune on new outfits all the time and with less effort in the mornings—create a capsule wardrobe for work.
The term “capsule wardrobe” was first coined by Susie Faux, dubbed in the fashion world as the “grooming magician.” In the 1970s, while operating her London boutique, she started helping women create a total look with minimal yet high-quality wardrobe. The idea is to pick fashion pieces that you could easily mix-and-match with other items in your closet.
To help you create your own capsule wardrobe for work, we’ve styled together different looks with key pieces you can easily recycle for another work look on any given day. After all, this is what it’s all about to dress like a boss—you make things work!
Capsule Wardrobe #1: Classic Chic
Style Pieces You Need: Little Black Dress, Structured Tote and Basic Black Pumps
Keep it timeless with a Chanel tweed sheath black dress, YSL pumps and a Louis Vuitton Epi Alma bag.
If there’s one fashion truth we’ve learned from style icon Audrey Hepburn, you can never go wrong with a little black dress. Invest in a quality black dress that will serve as your trusty fashion item when all else fails. An all-black piece is always a safe bet, but selecting one with luxe details, like button accents and interesting stripes, can quickly push your work look from basic to modern. Layer it with a cardigan, suit or structured trench coat (so Parisian, no?), when weather-appropriate. Show up to board meetings exuding timeless confidence by pairing your little black dress with matching pumps (a little gold trim won’t hurt) and a structured tote.
Capsule Wardrobe #2: Polished Working Girl
Style Pieces You Need: White Button-Up Shirt, Pencil Shirt, Basic Handbag and Edgy HeelsDress to impress with a white Akris button-up top, Trina Turk pencil skirt, Louis Vuitton square-toe pumps and black Gucci tote.
Elevate your 9-to-5 game with a working girl fashion staple: a pencil skirt. When it comes to pencil skirts, fit is critical. Find what flatters your frame and silhouette—and stick with it. Because you always have the option to wear something basic on top, don’t shy away from taking fashion risks with colors and prints when it comes to your bottoms. In addition, every working girl needs at least one crisp, white button-up shirt. Period. A white shirt is clean, minimalist and extremely easy to pair with anything else when creating a capsule wardrobe for work. Finally, whether you are a marketing executive or a sales director, think of timeless pieces with a twist when putting together your working girl work wear. For a stylish exclamation point to your #ladyboss look, why not finish off with a pebbled-leather handbag and a pair of pumps with a unique heel design?
Capsule Wardrobe #3: Creative Sophisticate
Style Pieces You Need: Interesting Separates, Fun Pair of Mary Janes and Quality ToteGive work wear a modern touch with these Milly separates, Celine Phantom bag and Luis Vuitton Mary Jane pumps.
In a more fashion-forward work environment, don’t be afraid to look less rigid. Instead, when creating a capsule wardrobe for work, embrace your feminine and playful side. For instance, ditch the structured pencil skirt in favor of a more feminine full skirt that says, “I work hard and play hard.” While the corporate world may have stricter dress codes, you can be more experimental if you happen to work in a creative environment, like in advertising or media, wherein breaking free from the traditional is not frowned upon. Instead of a tapered fit, for instance, embrace free movement with a loose top, but keep proportions in mind when choosing less structured pieces, especially if you are petite in frame. A quality handbag is always a must, but keep things interesting with notice-me footwear, like a pair of silver-adorned Mary Jane pumps.
Capsule Wardrobe #4: Power Possibilities
Style Pieces You Need: Structured Blazer Suit, Neutral-Colored Trousers, Sexy Stilettos and Large Carry-All TotePower up with this Tahari black suit, BCBG white pants, Chanel faux pearl bracelets, Chanel Mademoiselle tote and Christian Louboutin pumps.
Whether you are headed to court to represent a client or off to impress a potential business partner, a power suit is your best ammunition. It is common knowledge that there’s something about a fitted, polished suit that transforms mindsets: It instantly gives confidence, conveys power and creates an impression that you are ready to conquer the world. While a plain black suit is perhaps the most versatile, a less boring option is one with details like pleats and buckle belts. White trousers offer a bold contrast against black blazers, while red-soled black pumps always add a little style punch. And because a bag is akin to a lifesaver to any modern go-getter (you either sink or swim with or without your daily work essentials), always finish off your work look with a large carry-all tote.
Finally, whatever your personal style may be, when it comes to power dressing for work, keep in mind the popular notion: Dress for the job you want. How about you? Which style pieces do you favor the most? How do you put together your own capsule wardrobe for work?