While I love dressing up, come 6am on a Monday morning the reality is that trying to choose an outfit before the caffeine has kicked in is really a bit beyond me. On a daily basis looking professional, feeling comfortable and wearing something that feels like me are my main priorities and to ensure I make my bus on time, I rely on a small collection of versatile pieces and tried and trusted combinations. By curating a minimal capsule work wear wardrobe I’ve been able to streamline my mornings (at least when it comes to the clothing department – the lunch department can be a whole different ball game) and below I’ve shared a few things I think about when building or adding to this collection. I hope it buys you a few extra minutes of calm before you open pandora’s (in)box.
Work place dress code
I always keep my work place’s dress code in mind. Although it seems obvious, every work place is different and unless you have a uniform (lucky you!) it’s helpful to take inventory of the spoken and unspoken expectations (for example, if you work in a lab you might be required to wear closed in shoes, or a blazer in some corporate jobs).
Practicality and comfort
After one too many experiences trying to navigate a pencil skirt while running to the bus in the rain I’ve learned to prioritise practicality and comfort. Given how many hours (and years, for that matter) we spend in work attire, ensuring that it looks good but also caters to everyday life is worth it. This doesn’t have to mean compromising on style, but it does mean looking for pieces you love but can also move in easily throughout your day.
Take inventory of your current work wear wardrobe and favourite outfits
Before buying anything new I like to take inventory of what I already own. That way, I can look at what’s working, what isn’t and what I need to add. I take special note of my favourite outfits – the ones I reach for over and over again and that seem to have an elusive quality to them that make me feel just like myself, only more confident and vibrant. Although I’ve never been able to pin down this quality, I have found that distilling these outfits into a few words (for example, “comfortable” “fits well” and “classic design”) can point me in the right direction. If you’re just beginning to build a work wear wardrobe you can do this with some of your favourite every day outfits, but then see if you can change them slightly to make them more appropriate for your work place (for example, if you love wearing jeans and a shirt, think about changing it to black tailored pants and a button up shirt). At the end of the day, it is important to make sure an outfit feels like you – there’s nothing more uncomfortable than wearing something that does’t feel quite right.
Acquire new pieces intentionally
Once I’ve assessed my current wardrobe, I prioritise shopping for the items I’ve noticed are missing or which need updating, particularly wardrobe staples. I don’t necessarily buy them all at once either (depending on how urgently I need an item) but will often wait until I find the right thing. Whether you are starting from scratch or updating a current wardrobe you can’t go too far wrong in investing in the basics (for example a white shirt, black pants, or a well-fitted blazer) and I’m always surprised at how many different combinations I can make few well chosen pieces stretch. I look for quality over quantity and try to stay with a neutral colour palette and classic prints for foundational pieces (you can read my approach to incorporating colour into a capsule wardrobe here). However, at the end of the day, do what feels right for you and your style. You can also find amazing pieces second hand through op shops or online through stores such as The Real Real or the Vestiaire Collective. A sustainable clothing brand that I’m keen to try is Vetta which specialises in creating capsule wardrobe collections where each piece is designed to be worn multiple ways to increase the milage out you get out of it.
Plan outfits in advance:
Last, but definitely not least, I like to plan outfits in advance. I don’t necessarily do this in a structured manner but if I have some spare time on a weekend, I’ll experiment with different combinations so I already know, come Monday, what things work and don’t.
I’d love to know whether you have a capsule work wear wardrobe or have any tips and tricks for streamlining your weekday mornings?
Photos by Sara Eshu