Smart Casual Work Capsule Wardrobe....

(37 Posts)
RedbreastRobin Sun 18-Aug-13 16:03:59

I'm starting a new office job. I want to be smart, but not overly. I'm working 3 days a week so would like 6 complete outfits, including shoes (I own flip flops or Uggs blush) budget is minimal, but could be stretched if I get on DH's good side!

I've been into town today and came away empty handed. I've no idea where to start online - spent most of last night looking but came up with nothing! I've no idea what to do with this style as I'm most comfortable with summer dresses/flip flops jeans/uggs!

Anyone fancy helping?!

I'm 30, blonde, 5'4" and a size 12.

scarlet76 Sun 18-Aug-13 16:13:19

Black slim fit/cigarette trousers
pencil skirt
dress
fitted shirt
fine knit merino jumper or cardigan
fitted stripe top
Trench
Block heeled courts
pointy heeled ankle boots

Use scarves and jewellery to add interest

RedbreastRobin Sun 18-Aug-13 16:34:41

I'm not sure if shirt and pencil skirt is too smart though, I don't want to look like I'm trying to hard, it's quite a casual office. I want to be a step up from denim IYSWIM

RedbreastRobin Sun 18-Aug-13 16:35:43

*also I still have some baby weight everywhere round the tummy and fitted usual mean I look pregnant!

Gillybobs Sun 18-Aug-13 16:53:09

Ankle grazer trousers (next do them in a few colours ) and a few tops to go with. A printed dress to be worn with opaques and flats, a plain jersey dress. Maybe a jersey blazer to wear with any of the above? Pick an overall colour palette for sure

nextphase Sun 18-Aug-13 16:56:50

If you like summer dresses etc, what about leggings (dirt cheep in Matalan, H&M etc), and some tunic tops? Your summer dresses my be able to be upgraded to work wear with leggings, a necklace and maybe a cardi?

Or black trousers and a pretty top?

I'm hopeless with shoes, so have flat blacks from Clarks!

RedbreastRobin Sun 18-Aug-13 18:39:15

Always thought leggings a bit frumpy... will try - thanks! smile

RedbreastRobin Sun 18-Aug-13 18:40:11

can anyone give me links? I need hand holding through this!

RedbreastRobin Sun 18-Aug-13 19:49:13

bump

Tweet2tweet Mon 19-Aug-13 08:44:20

Suggestions:
this
this
this

Twinklestein France Mon 19-Aug-13 10:04:47

Can I recommend wedge heeled pumps as being by far the most comfortable to work in. They look professional & give you a little bit of height, but no back & leg ache.

Zara is very good for work clothes - check them out online.

ABofDoncaster Mon 19-Aug-13 10:54:46

A navy or grey pencil/shift dress (can be worn on its own in summer or with tights & a nice cardi in the winter)

A neutral coloured cardi - charcoal grey probably best. And it has to be FITTED.

Charcoal coloured work trousers. (Go with more colours than black)

Nice fitted work shirt.

A couple of nice jersey tops suitable for work.

Low wedge-heeled shoes.

Could get all of the above for well under £150.

Thurlow Mon 19-Aug-13 11:24:00

For not business-smart but not jeans, I would buy one or two pairs of nice trousers, so for your envious size and shap I would buy maybe a black pair and a navy pair of cigarette pants. Then some tops and cardigans that can all mix and match. For shoes either one pair of more decent shoes, or a few pairs of ballet pumps in different colours that can mix and match with your outfit.

I have several pairs of these in green and blue and grey to brighten up my outfits and am off to buy more now they are on special. They've got some nice cardigans too.

I did wear dresses a lot but I'm feeling lazier at the moment, and find tops, trousers and cardis that all match each other really easy to manage.

ThePlatterCompany Mon 19-Aug-13 11:47:30

Not sure I am the best person to give advice on this as I have a heap of stuff in my wardrobe that I could do with getting shot of.
When I was going in the office daily, it too was a casual place to dress albeit not quite a jeans environment either.
I found that having a pair of wedge pumps in both brown and black - meant little messing about with co-ordination in the morning.
I kept for office wear only a black lycra maxi skirt - this could be teamed up with anything - especially good wearing a long blouse over the top to cover the few lumps and bumps - but really comfortable.
A grey pair of trousers that can be easily dressed up with a fitted white or black blouse or dressed down with a v neck t shirt.
effectively I bought different shades and styles of t-shirts to create different looks.
The scarf and necklace idea already mentioned is fab - I have a load of these, light weight ones in the summer though as you might look a little silly with a woolly one wink
Good luck

WhatWillSantaBring Mon 19-Aug-13 12:56:35

My capsule wardrobe long consisted of the following:

3 pairs trousers - all the same style, but one grey, one black and one dark brown.

4 reasonably fitted jumpers (i.e fitted but quite large so they weren't figure hugging).

1 pair sensible court shoes.

The jumpers came from either M&S or Gap, the trousers from Banana Republic (like Gap, but more expensive so I only shop there in the sale). Looks smart but not too smart.

Oh yes, in the summer, I added in a couple of fitted (again, not too tight, but not baggy) v-neck t-shirts.

Accessorised the whole lot with various fairly noticeable jewellry, and always wore makeup, hair neatly done to make it look more "office" and less "mum".

My capsule wardrobe gets trotted out whenever I'm overweight all the time . My sassy wardrobe with individual statement pieces and lots of different looks, is saved for when I'm a size 10. sad

sherbetpips Mon 19-Aug-13 13:04:32

never worry about looking too smart as long as it is office atire (not going out to dinner, clubbing etc...) it is fine. Dressing well helps you to feel the part as well. Try and keep to structured clothes rather than leggings as you can soon slip into over casual mode. I personally hate wearing jackets as I have a big bust so I often wear smart trousers and shoes with a plain coloured top and some nice jewellery. Get some plain silver and plain gold coloured stuff that is pretty chunky and it can liven up the most boring of outfits. Avoid white/cream tops, they look boring and can make the wearer look washed out - also avoids showing your underwear. Brighter or darker colours dont need washing as often either.
Also have a look in your wardrobe at some of your previous 'best'clothes, these often get recycled into work clothes for me once I realise I am not wearing them anymore.

oscarwilde Mon 19-Aug-13 13:45:05

Have a wander around a decent M&S for some basics. They have some good quality dresses and trousers in baby flab trust me on this friendly cuts and fabrics at the moment. It's worth buying a decent black dress and dark trousers as you can wear with a multitude and change the look with jewellry.
Plus - unless you work somewhere really trendy or stick out in something unusual, no one really pays that much attention.

MrsMarigold Mon 19-Aug-13 13:48:28

Avoid leggings at all costs even in a casual environment! They are unprofessional. I think skirts/dresses look best and are most versatile. Zara and Cos are your best bets.

I would avoid chunky jewellery smaller pieces are now more fashionable.

Wrap dress, with a monotone print if you want to avoid drawing eyes to excess bulges.

Pencil skirt.
Well fitting black trousers
Black blazer.
Black court choes
Black ankle boots.
You can then mix and match various tops/jumpers skirts of different colours with the skirt and trousers to achieve different looks, different accessories also help (jewellery, scarves.)

TheCraicDealer Mon 19-Aug-13 14:01:19

Yes, agree you need ankle grazer trews- perfect for those days when it's too warm for normal work trousers but you haven't shaved your legs. They would also look v chic with pointy flats ( these from Office are good for twenty quid, you can upgrade later).

H&M are good for what my mother terms "wee tops"- things you can mix and match skirts, trousers and jeans with. Marksies do a range of basic crew neck cardies ( here )- good range of colours and very handy for throwing over say a white shirt and trousers or plain black dress to jazz them up a bit.

sweetheart Mon 19-Aug-13 14:23:41

I think for a capsual wardrobe you have to pick a mix and match colour scheme so that all your clothes go together.

my colours for work are:-
Navy Blue
Aubergine
Light pink
Beige
Grey

I have trousers in Navy, Grey and beige and then tops in all the above colours that mix and match with the trousers.

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Mon 19-Aug-13 16:06:52

Are you near a Debenhams, by any chance? I will also be starting back in an employed role after being scruffily self employed for nearly 8 years. I made an appointment to see the Debenhams personal shopper, told her what my budget was and what I thought I may need, and after spending £200 I have about 10 outfits! I am delighted with the service and cannot recommend it highly enough. There was no pressure to purchase whatsoever!

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Mon 19-Aug-13 16:08:37

Definitely get a blazer - after years of never having a proper summer jacket I recently splurged on 2 New Look blazers (one black, one coral) and I just feel like I look so much smarter. They look fashionable and smart, but not too smart.

Not sure my wardrobe could be classed as 'capsule', mind you, but buy at least one skirt and one pair of trousers that you like and get a bunch of plain black or white vests and assorted cardigans. You can wear skirts and trousers more than once without washing, whereas dresses are more a wear-once sort of thing. Mango do nice cheap trousers; H&M do nice plain vests in assorted colours. Cardigans are a bit trickier.

If you aren't sure what you like, go into somewhere like John Lewis where you can take 10 items into the changing rooms and the assistants will be nice about it. Then you can try things from eg Mango, Oasis, Warehouse all at once, plus more expensive items if you can afford them. Take a friend/relative who can also take in 10 items and be your personal shopper for the afternoon.

DisneyDiva87 Mon 19-Aug-13 16:17:36

My office is not smart (I work in IT department of a University) and I prefer dresses, I have dresses from Primark, New Look & Matalan. I have a black cardi that I wear with most things from new look, a purple cardi that my mum got somewhere and a coral one that I wear with just the one dress. I wear black stilettos from new look £20 and neutral wedges, I agree with wedges being the best for comfort but looking a bit smarter.

I sometimes wear a pencil skirt with a vest top and a sweater, wearing a shirt with the pencil skirt makes it very smart but not so much with a vest top. grin

Want2bSupermum Mon 19-Aug-13 16:22:27

Please do not wear leggings. In winter months I live in thick black tights and washable polyester dresses that i pick up at stores in the US. They cost $30 each and I chuck them every year. It takes me 2 seconds to get dressed in the morning. Get printed ones for a more casual setting and a pair of black flats that go with everything. When I was in the UK over the summer I saw some fab dresses in M&S of all places. I find the very simple ones are best as you can dress them up or down depending on your mood.

I work 5 days a week and have 8 dresses. For working 3 days a week I would start with 3 outfits and go from there.

Minimammoth Mon 19-Aug-13 18:38:57

My tips are: wear what you are comfortable in, get a colour that is great on you, rather than wear a uniform. Consider the fabric. Get a natural fabric particularly if you get hot and sweaty, have one that's not too flimsy. Think about the neckline especially if you bend down a lot. And def. comfortable shoes.

SucksAtRelationships Mon 19-Aug-13 18:45:11

I have just started building a little work wardrobe going on the colours black, grey, purple, and a little light blue and light pink so most things go together.

trousers are more practical for me so gone for a couple of different styles and colours

I am a cold person so nice jumpers and cardis. Leather jacket goes with most of my stuff and ankle boots/mid heel shoes. Got some flats for when I can't be arsed.

RedbreastRobin Mon 19-Aug-13 20:10:47

Thank you so much! Had given up on this thread, but have read through and just spent £200 on an H&M order.... thank you!! Amazing what just a few tips can do! I have stuck with skirts as I'm not sure I will feel comfortable in trousers. Got 2 maxi skirts - one black, one grey and a pencil skirt in charcoal. Got some loose fitting t-shirt type tops, a grey knitted jumper, a spotty blouse (cream with black spots) a pair of smart flat sandals in black, khaki and coral and a bright scarf (coral, turquoise, black and white pattern) and a brightly coloured bangle (lots together, similar colours to scarf). Oh, and some opaque tights. I have some block heel peep toe shoes in the back of the wardrobe, I'd forgotten them!

RedbreastRobin Mon 19-Aug-13 20:11:41

Oh - have just seen this is discussion of the day! blush

No wonder I have so many replies!

SucksAtRelationships Mon 19-Aug-13 20:47:06

Glad you had a good shop OP grin

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 19-Aug-13 20:57:30

summer dresses are fine. If they suit you and you are happy in them then you will look great, stick with them. If you feel you need zhuzhing, then get some new ones that feel fab and fresh and think about shoes and accessories. You can use opaques and cardigans to keep them going well past true summer and that can be a really cool look. I think. dresses are good if you are changing shape a bit because they will look fine if you buy them to fit you now, but if you lose a few pounds you will just look sleeker in them without having loose waistbands or something, and unless you lose well over a stone they won't be unwearably sloppy like trousers and skirts can be when you lose a bit of weight.

Cardigans are cute but if you want to be more badass get some little jackets, maybe cut like denim jackets but not denim, it's a way of looking sharp without looking officey.

My main capsule tip is that you have to decide whether you are going black or brown. Just pick one and go with it, and don't flirt with the other. That way everything will go together. (obviously don't buy all black or all brown; but for things like shoes, boots, bags, pick one; and then apply it to things like the base colour in prints, etc - or potentially navy as your third option, but you could arguably work a navy and a brown palette together, but brown and black will fight, so unless you are prepared to THINK every day, just go one way or the other, and if you are English and white, it is probably brown)
The only other passionately fighty colour schemes are pinks and oranges. if you tend towards lilacs and pinks, don't get a single orangey thing or there will be too many things it is unwearable with. And vice versa.

Get a cool neutral grey jumper / cardigan.

bunchoffives Mon 19-Aug-13 21:51:42

See you've taken the plunge OP but you might get some combo ideas here from M&S

How to Dress For Work

RosieLig Mon 19-Aug-13 22:02:47

I wore a lot of dresses as they're so much easier. Wrap type dresses or shift dresses. Can be dressed down with ballet pumps so you don't feel too dressy.

I always preferred to be more dressy than less.

Get yourself a couple of things and then see how everyone else dresses.

RedbreastRobin Tue 20-Aug-13 08:32:08

"Get yourself a couple of things and then see how everyone else dresses."

Everyone else is in shirt and trousers. I'm going to be the only female in the office shock

onlysettleforbutterflies Tue 20-Aug-13 09:06:37

H&M are good for affordable work basics, I have a few fine knit cardigans and jumpers from there, which have washed well and they come in loads of different colours. Also have a look at their blazers, work skirts, trousers and dresses, test the fabric first though, as some crease quite easily. My office is quite smart but I often wear black skinny jeans with a smart top, blazer and heels, you can't really tell they're jeans. For affordable shoes have a look at New Look, I have a couple of pairs of patent court shoes with a medium size heel in black and nude, I think they were only about £15.

Accessorise with a scarf, chunky necklace and bracelets to pull it all together.

Good luck!

sweetheart Tue 20-Aug-13 11:36:47

Robin,

If you like H&M I'd suggest ordering a copy of their catalogue as it's really great at grouping their items together in capsule collections - you can just buy a whole look off 1 page.

Bathsalt50 Mon 30-Sep-13 13:23:04

Hello I have a black Lemuria dress for sale (EGG dress) size small but would fit a medium too. Multifunctional dress check the website lemuria.co.uk
the link will show you many different ways to wear it. the one i'm selling has a very small thread pull but really not noticeable. these dresses cost over 350euro ...txt me if you are interested.

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