Photo Credit: M&S
Whether you’re starting a new job or want to start the new year with a smarter style, ensuring you have a capsule workwear wardrobe is essential for minimising the morning ‘what do I wear?!’ stress. Start by looking through you closet to see what you already have. If there are clothes you haven’t worn in the last 6 months, and that you don’t expect you will wear anytime soon, donate them to charity or deposit them at a recycling centre. Read my Christmas Clear Out post for more details on where, how and why you should recycle or resell your unwanted goods.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
The term was coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion. In terms of workwear, you would be looking at something like:
- 1 suit
- 1-2 skirts
- 1-2 pairs of trousers
- 3-4 shirts or blouses
- 1-2 smart jumpers
- 1-2 cardigans
- 1-2 tailored dresses
- 1 pair of heels
- 1 pair of flats
Where can I shop for smart, chic workwear with minimal social and environmental impact?
Marks & Spencer is a great place to go for workwear. They offer a wide range of styles to fit all shapes and sizes. They also have a sustainability initiative in place, Plan A, to set out ethical and environmental goals. Plan A was launched in 2007 as a 100 point, 5 year plan. Having achieved their major aim of making their UK business carbon neutral, they’ve now introduced Plan A 2020. This consists of 100 new, revised and existing commitments, with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer. By sourcing responsibly, reducing waste and helping communities, M&S believe they can do their bit to help protect the planet.
Detailed information on M&S’s Plan A 2020, their sourcing, their farmers and their work with local communities can be found here: http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a
My guide to a capsule workwear wardrobe:
The Pencil Skirt
I am a big fan of a pencil skirt- they look professional, yet chic and feminine. I particularly like the pocket and D-ring waistband details on the M&S military midi shown above. Remember: the fewer the better. You only need one or two pencil skirts, perhaps one black and one grey.
It is important to have one well-fitted, tailored suit for interviews or client meetings. I prefer a charcoal grey colour, like the M&S one pictured. The pencil skirt of this suit could also be your second skirt to wear without the jacket for less formal occasions.
The Tailored Trouser
It is really important to take your time to find smart, tailored trousers that fit well. M&S offer a wide range of styles in various colours. I particularly like these modern slim leg trousers. Again, you only need one or two pairs. Pick quality over quantity every time.
Similarly to the trousers, you want a really well-fitting shirt. This could mean adjusting the sleeve length so that it stops at your wrist. M&S again have a wide range of shirts, and even offer shirts for those with a fuller bust. I opt for simple, plain, smart shirts for a classic and timeless look. This no-peep easy to iron white shirt is designed to prevent gaping at the front. The working week is only 5 days. If you were to wear a dress one day and a jumper or blouse another one or two, you only need a maximum of three shirts for the remaining days!
When looking for a dress, choose a tailored pencil dress in a classic colour like black, grey or navy. This way you know you’ll wear it over and over again. Avoid trends, such as a peplum waist, that you may grow to dislike a few months later. This black v-neck structured dress is a great example of a timeless piece that looks smart yet feminine.
Here are some inspirational, smart and chic workwear looks I found on Pinterest: