How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Workby Jess Atkins, Stylebook Co-Founder

Dress Like a Boss: 

You know the old saying: “Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.”

Yet how many times have you faced this choice: buy a nice, work-appropriate blazer, or buy something more fun, like a cocktail dress? Most of the time, the dress will win, right?

But let’s face it: there are about 260 work days in the year. Your work wardrobe is WAY more important than your weekend clothes. Dressing well at work can help make a good impression and might even help you get your next promotion. Fortunately, you don’t have to have an enormous work wardrobe to have great office style. I put together a capsule collection using basics to create a full 30 days of work outfits. If you wear a different outfit to work every day of the month, it will be impossible to tell that you only have 23 pieces of workwear. Below are tips on what to buy, mixing and matching your outfits, beauty secrets to help you stay polished and tips on how to keep track of everything using Stylebook!


First, choose a limited color palette – two to four colors should be enough.

Many of these items may already be in your closet but you might need to go shopping if they don’t fit well or if you have a few wardrobe gaps. If you do go shopping, remember to stick to your color palette!

Select the following items based on your color palette:

six shirts

five bottoms

two jackets

two dresses

two bags

six pairs of shoes

Things To Consider

Skirts – Always keep your skirts knee-length. Even if you work in a creative industry, a short skirt may still turn heads – in the wrong way.

Sleeveless – No tank tops at the office – ever! If you go sleeveless, be sure to cover up your chest.

Pants – Tapered or cropped pants can be worn with flats or heels. This is especially important if you’re a commuter because longer wide-leg styles can only be worn with heels, which may be uncomfortable if you stand or walk for a long period of time.

Having seven days of shirts and dresses means you can go an entire week without doing laundry. And while we’re on the topic of laundry, make sure you check the care tags before you buy anything – you don’t want to wind up with a bunch of dry clean-only clothes that end up sitting at the bottom of your hamper for most of the month.

If you need to buy items to complete your capsule wardrobe, seriously consider the item’s fit before you rip the tags off anything. Your basics won’t look so basic if they fit you beautifully. If you’re petite like me, always buy dresses and pants in the petites department. I used to think I could just hem regular sizes but sometimes the seams and pockets are just in the wrong place for me. Also, always look in a 3-way mirror! I’ve seen many pencil skirts that looked fine in the front but then had a back slit that was way too revealing.

When picking your items, consider including some subdued patterns. I like smaller classic patterns like stripes, swiss dots, or geometrics – they are fun but still office-appropriate. Try to avoid anything overly bold if you’re planning on keeping a small office wardrobe – you might feel self-conscious repeating it. Once you’ve selected everything, photograph your clothes for your Stylebook virtual closet so you can keep track of what you own and nothing will get lost in the back of your real closet.

Stylebook Tip: Add the tag “work” to your notes for each item so you can easily search for your work items when creating outfits.
A rule that’s always helped me is that every bottom in your capsule collection needs to match at least 3 different tops. In addition, both of the jackets you choose for your capsule need to pair well with most of your tops. Following those rules, you should have almost 30 outfits right out of the gate. Now let’s get a little creative with how you make those combinations.

I love monochromatic outfits, especially when I’m combining a top and skirt. If the colors match exactly, this combination can make your outfit look like a dress – some stores even sell matching sets meant to create this illusion. These are fantastic because you have the option of wearing them together or as separates. You can also use this approach with trousers, but be sure to wear a top in a slightly different shade. For example, I might wear burgundy wool trousers with a powder pink button-down. It looks contemporary but the shapes are still appropriate for the office.
Stylebook Tip: Stylebook is the perfect app to plan your outfits. If you’ve imported your clothes into Stylebook, you’ll be able to come up with outfit ideas wherever you are. The app’s outfit editor allows you to collage images of your clothes and then save your outfit ideas with searchable notes and tags. Your real closet can stay orderly, since you can experiment without pulling everything out.


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