I’ve been relief working at another psychology centre recently, and it occurred to me that since leaving full time employment and structured offices, my work wear is really suffering. What better opportunity then, to have a chat about how to put together a capsule wardrobe for work!
Once upon a time, after adopting my capsule closet, most of my clothes were for work, with only a select few for weekends and leisure.
At the time, this made sense since 90% of the day and 90% of the week was spent at work in an office. A Pinterest worthy outfit after business hours was the last thing I needed when getting home; all I would be doing would be slobbing in front of the TV, stuffing my face full of dinner and dessert.
Now however, even though I’m not working full time anymore, I still need to maintain a few office appropriate pieces that will get me through my usual routine.
Think of this as sartorial scaffolding – key work wear are the items that undeniably state ‘office’, such as pressed trousers, blazors, suits etc. They hold your image up and provide the base from which you design your outfits.
When I worked full time and even now, I have dedicated items that I wear only for the office. When I don these items, I am in work mode, and I don’t wear these clothes elsewhere in my life.
At the moment my key pieces include 2 pairs of trousers, a black pinafore, and a few skirts in various materials that will see me winter through summer. I used to own a few blazors, but a) my body has changed so much over the years I can’t fit into them anymore; and b) my current role and workplace doesn’t call for them bar none.
Where to start
You may choose to invest in a full suit, separates, or a few dresses. Whatever you deem to be for the office however, should be structured and relatively fitted to your body. It’s easy to dress down formal wear; it’s not so easy to dress up informal wear without your appearance getting way messy (think Madonna in the 80s).
Structured and fitted pieces keeps your silhouette tidy and your lines clean, which in turn gives an air of formality (and like you’ve got your shit together).
While unimaginative, keeping your key pieces in neutral colours will help with your mix-and-match as the weeks go by. It’s difficult to pair a pastel orange houndstooth blazor with everything unless you want to look like you’ve come straight from Jem and the Holograms (although if that is your gig, how can I join???)
Don’t sacrifice comfort though – you’re going to be wearing those clothes for a good 7 hours in a day, and uncomfortable clothes can be a real downer. Make sure you can sit down, eat , run, and climb step ladders or haul boxes without wincing, popping out, sucking in, or tottering dangerously.
Utilise your current wardrobe
Once you’ve got your key pieces, you can look to your usual wardrobe to fill in the gaps.
Most of the time this means tops – tee shirts can be tucked into skirts, tank tops can be worn under blazors or cardigans, scarves can be used to cover up decolletage if necessary, long sleeve tees can be worn under pinafores. Alternatively, a variety of long length and fitted cardigans can replace the need for blazors, and you can get double wear out of dresses by wearing a fitted jumper, cardigan, or button up over top.
Ariana at Paris To Go gets triple wear from her dresses by doing the above or also donning a separate black skirt over her dresses. Obviously you’ll want to ensure that the hemline of the separate skirt covers that of the dress sufficiently.
You don’t need to go overboard with accessories. All one needs at most might be a long or statement necklace to tie everything together. Or even a pair of noticeable earrings (and by noticeable, I mean they could just be really large solitaire pearl/diamond/coloured CZ studs).
If you’re not into jewellery, a lush scarf might be all you need. I’m big on embroidered wool scarves in the winter time. They’re my version of a winter necklace, and can be that element that just completes a look.