Creating a Professional Capsule Wardrobe

I’ve never been a fashion person. Honestly, a couple years back when I still had most of my clothes from college, stepping into my closet was anxiety inducing. There were too many choices and it felt like the nightmare that is shopping when you can’t find anything that looks good or fits.

I ended up going “Konmari” (see “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) on my closet. I tried on everything and ended up getting rid of everything that didn’t fit right or didn’t make me feel good. What was left wasn’t quite a capsule wardrobe, but it was an improvement.

When I got promoted to a management position last year, I knew I was going to have to buy some more formal work clothes. Nice work clothes are definitely spendy, and I figured this was the perfect time to build a capsule wardrobe.

I did a little research as to what professional wear included, and found one of the only fashion blogs I have ever liked—Memorandum. One of the suits she recommended was from J.Crew so I drove up to Keystone Crossing one Sunday and did something unusual for me—I bought clothes.

(Images above are linked with similar items to what I purchased.)

What I ended up buying

1 black blazer

1 pair of black cropped slacks

3 short sleeved blouses

1 long sleeve blouse

1 neutral colored dress

1 colored dress

1 black jumpsuit

1 pair of black flats

1 pair of black heels

The biggest concern when you start a capsule wardrobe is, “Won’t everyone notice I’m wearing the same thing every week?” and the answer is—No, no they won’t. When I changed locations for work, my employees told me that I was the most fashionable, best dressed manager they had ever had. Me? Fashionable? Same sentence? Yep.

I think the biggest trick with capsule wardrobes is to make sure that everything in the capsule wardrobe goes with everything else. Because this capsule wardrobe was professional, most everything had to be black. I also considered getting a navy suit or a gray suit, but couldn’t find them when I was shopping in February. My shirts were mostly floral and colored, so that lightened things up a bit and made my clothes feel more representative of my personality. And because everything matched, getting dressed was easy.

Considered changes

1) I wanted to have the courage to wear the jumpsuit, but didn’t, so it’s still hanging in my closet with the tag on. *Merp, merp.*

2) I owned a nice cardigan, so I wore that instead of my blazer while doing computer work.

3) The pants I purchased didn’t have belt loops, which at times was inconvenient. I also wished I had a second pair of pants on occasion when it came to getting things dry cleaned. (Everything I bought was machine-washable, but I preferred how it looked when it was done at the cleaner.)



Figure out your style and needs

Before you go shopping, figure out what your style is, and think about what kind of work you will be doing in your clothes. If you have to walk a lot, heels are probably not your best choice. (I’m speaking from experience from being a person who walked easily four miles inside a building every day.) 

Make sure your clothes fit!

Have someone help you, get your clothes fitted/altered, or make sure you have the right size. One of the dresses I bought was actually too short in the normal size so I asked about a tall size. It ended up fitting great! I was not so smart with my shoe selection and bought heels that were probably half a size too small—I can wear them with pantyhose, but not barefoot, which is kind of silly if you want to wear crop pants and heels.  

Set a a budget for yourself!

It’s easy for things to get out of control quickly. One of the things I do when I’m looking clothes is I save things via bookmarks/online wishlists, and then I wait for sales. You can get almost everything on sale for 30%-40% off, so plan ahead and you won’t have to buy something at full price. 

Be picky! 

Don’t buy anything that doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks. I have a pink dress from my capsule wardrobe that I will probably wear to every interview I get because it inspires confidence in me. It makes me feel like, “Hello! This is me. You want to hire me, because I’m awesome and qualified for the position.” That’s what you want from your clothes. 

Moving forward

I’m currently an online student, so my wardrobe is more relaxed these days. But ultimately my goal is to have a wardrobe that is primarily one color, flattering, and classic. I’ll probably have more clothes than this first capsule wardrobe, but I’m not a person who is interested in following fashion trends or spending a lot of time getting ready in the morning. My goal is to streamline the process so I can use my time away from work to workout, pursue self development, or spend more time with my family.

Fashion is an unusual topic for me, so let me know if posts like these are something you’d like to see more of!