Capsule Wardrobe: Elegant Professional

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capsule wardrobe elegant professional workwear for fall and winter by wardrobe oxygenWhen you have to dress in business attire every day for work, it can get expensive. Blazers, lined trousers, matching suits, and then all the alterations… to have a different outfit every day for your job can lead you to the poorhouse. In Corporate America, more than anywhere else, it makes sense to build a capsule wardrobe for your work clothing. With a cohesive collection of pieces, you can have more style and more outfits with fewer pieces. This professional capsule wardrobe is for the business woman who wants to be taken seriously as well as embrace a more feminine color palette.

I often make work clothing capsule wardrobes with a base neutral of black because it’s the easiest to find matching pieces. I recommend finding a brand that fits you well and check regularly in their sale departments to build up a collection of suiting pieces. Retailers like Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Vince Camuto, ELOQUII, OfMercer, MM.LaFleur, and Theory often stick with the same fabric but create different silhouettes each season making it possible to build up a coordinating suiting wardrobe.

capsule wardrobe fall winter office professional workplace fashion
Shop Similar:
grey jacket | cream jacket | black jacket | scarf | necklace | black pants | grey pants | cream pants | berry blouse | cream blouse | black blouse | silk tee | pink sweater | grey sweater | black boots | pumps | tote | black dress | red dress | skirt

With a base neutral, you can build upon your suiting wardrobe with additional separates that mix and match. In general, neutrals evoke more of a conservative and professional feel than colored suiting, and they are more likely to transcend trends. In this capsule I use black, cream and grey, though you could use navy, brown, charcoal, taupe, or another classic shade.

A way to make non-suiting separates look both professional and luxe is to create a monotone ensemble. Shades of ivory and cream, greys, taupes, and even blush pink together can make a lower-price separate look more expensive. By having subtle variations in the colors means you don’t need a matched set; winter white jacket with ivory pants can look like a miss; paired with a cream turtleneck and pearl jewelry the combination look purposeful as well as elegant.

With 20 pieces including shoes and accessories I created over 40 outfits to get you through two months of days at the office. Click on any thumbnail graphic in the gallery to see the full-size images and descriptions. Hover over the images to find arrows to advance and go back within the gallery. If there’s an ad in the way, x it out to read captions. Click the X at the top right of an enlarged image to close the gallery and return to this blog post.

Click to View the Outfits:

Adding a couple other items you may have in your wardrobe – a shorter necklace, a button-front shirt, a pair of dark straight denim for Casual Fridays, a pair of pointed toe flats in a statement color or print – you can extend this collection through an entire season and many pieces can transcend into the next season.

To keep things from looking too utilitarian, incorporate subtle textures and details. A bit of ruffle, a tie at the throat, a subtle plaid on the pants, a jacquard blouse, a wool or tweed jacket. Mixing textures and fabrics will actually make a work capsule wardrobe appear more cohesive and make it easier to mix and match.

A fall work capsule wardrobe - over 40 outfits with just 20 pieces including shoes and accessories by Wardrobe Oxygen




A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I love this whole wardrobe. I am also retired but these outfits are perfect for church and out to dinner. Thank you and thanks for the suggested designers names. D.T.

  2. Oh I love this! I just went to a networking event in my Colombia jacket and felt…ugh. I need to up my work game a bit.

  3. I’ve always loved your wardrobe capsules, but this one tops them all! Before working in NYC, I believed in the philosophy of wearing any and all shades for business. Now that I’m entrenched in Midtown, I wear black as my daily staple and add all shades of pink, grey and beige to set it off. But, I’m not afraid to add the occasional floral print or pop of red to set it off. I love wearing an ensemble that’s put together. Thank you for providing us with more great ideas in looking good and feeling great.

  4. I love the idea of this capsule, but personally find black too ‘heavy’ for some of the outfit iterations (the white suit with black boots comes to mind, for example).

    In fact, I wanted to ask about outfit #15; is wearing pure black with a slightly ‘murky’ white (eg – cream, off-white) considered OK? I always thought it only works with stark white (as a high contrast look), but maybe that’s just me? Help a girl out!

    Anyway, I can always swap out the black for another neutral, but I just wanted to hear your take on it. Thanks 🙂

    1. I think black with cream or winter white is actually more chic than stark white and completely doable. These days there aren’t any color rules any more, and trends are to have unexpected pairings. But most important is what feels “right” to you!

  5. Allie, I love the grey jacket, but the link takes me to a knit moto jacket. Doesn’t look anything like the grey jacket you feature. Do you have a link for that jacket?

    1. Unfortunately this is a capsule I made when I was still at my day job and never had time to complete until now. By time I had the time to complete it most of the items are sold out. And then on top of it, this is the time of year when retailers are more worried about holiday fashion than corporate attire. I plan to update this after the holidays and hope to find better links.

      1. Okay, thanks. Do you have any suggestions for search terms to turn up a similar jacket? Would I call that a shawl collar? Do you have recall of the brand?

  6. This is gorgeous. One of my favorite capsules I’ve seen. I really wish that cream blazer with the tie was available!

  7. Almost makes me wish I were still working. I’d love to dress like this! But I’ll just suffer with being happily retired… Very cool looks and I can use this as inspiration for different styling choices in my more casual wardrobe.

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