How To Look Sharp Without Overspending With An Office Capsule Wardrobe
If you work in a busy office, you want to look your best as a fashionable guy. In my latest fashion blog post, I look at ways to create a compact capsule wardrobe without dropping half your salary at your favourite luxury menswear store. Carry on reading to find out more.
Spend some time curating a compact capsule wardrobe using a mix of versatile essentials that pair with one another easily. You will be able to walk into the office looking stylish and sharp seven days a week (and can ignore fleeting trends, too!).
“Having a versatile, minimal mix-and-match wardrobe is key for making an impact at the office,” says Ryan Thompson, style editor at MensFlair.com. “You don’t have to spend your entire paycheck on the latest trends either. Here’s how I built an office capsule wardrobe that works.”
The Oxford Button-Down Shirt
The Oxford button-down shirt is a timeless necessity for any office wardrobe, especially when opting for classic colours of white, light blue, or even pale yellow. Keep with traditional point or button-down collar styles, which complement both business casual separates and more formal ensembles. Save yourself some pennies by choosing mid-weight cotton fabrics, allowing you to wear them across all seasons.
Quality is key, so choose contemporary tailored cuts from well-established brands such as J.Crew, TM Lewin, and Double Two.
The Navy Blazer
Upgrade your standard shirt and tie combo with the addition of a navy single-breasted blazer, which will elevate your otherwise smart casual outfit to something you can rock to significant events and important meetings so you look approachable and not too corporate!
Fit is king; a sloppy-fitting jacket can ruin your look in one fell swoop. Strong shoulders and a tapered cut to the waist will portray an incredible silhouette. Wool blending compositions are ideal as they allow for any temperature drops (however, try to find quarter or half-lined so you keep the jacket looking modern and trendy).
For details, select gold or silver hardware on the buttons (a subtle nod to a nautical vibe), which pairs with mid-grey or navy trousers. You can even add an extra splash of colour with a pocket square in the chest pocket.
A smart pair of crisp chinos can be the cornerstone of any capsule wardrobe – colours of tan, grey, and navy will match with a number of different Oxford shirts, jumpers, and blazers easily and effectively.
Avoid loose fits and select straight-leg or even skinny cuts with a hem just above the ankle for that modern European look. Cotton twill material with a touch of stretch provides a great look that is comfortable for all-day wear (and is more office-appropriate than cargo).
If you want brand ideas, consider Bonobos or Brook Brothers, which offer a vast range of office-ready chinos.
The Crewneck Sweater
A crewneck sweater is a vital office capsule essential, allowing you to toe the line between easy-going smart casual and a hard-hitting business professional.
Merino wool is a great fabric (I’ve always been a fan of John Smedley), which adds a lovely textured effect to a layered outfit and is typically available in several eye-popping colours. Crew jumpers worn over an Oxford shirt create a fantastic ensemble, which is comfortable yet stylish (worn under a sports coat looks good, too!).
In keeping with the capsule process, select versatile colours within the neutral spectrum with little to no patterns to pair them easily with other pieces.
Leave the chunky lace-up boots and shoes at the door and grab a pair of sleek boots such as the classic Chelsea (or even a Chukka), providing an excellent base for your whole look.
Suede boots are also the perfect way to transition from casual office days to nights out midweek (evening meals or pub visits with friends). Keep everything versatile using darker brown tones of cognac, chocolate, or even a timeless tan if you want something a shade lighter.
Many top brands offer great boots, but Common Projects (if you want a casual suede Chelsea) or Thomas Bird for something sleeker and more formal are my top picks.
Do not underestimate the significance of accessories that can complete your daily office vibe – a classic stainless steel watch (or an automatic sports watch), a patterned pocket square, and a complementary skinny tie that will complete your wardrobe for your busy day at the office.
If you want to build up your accessories, go for affordable starting point brands, including Timex, Tie Bar, and Uniqlo, which will make you look the part without breaking the bank (you can always upgrade down the line as you climb the corporate ladder). Avoid overdressing and looking too flashy by including only one statement accessory each day.
How much does curating an office capsule cost?
Spend time considering what you need to complete your wardrobe by selecting pieces that will create a 9-to-5 clothing rotation that can be achieved with minimal spending.
That said, spending more on foundation pieces such as jackets and footwear is crucial as they will provide quality products with extended longevity. Shirts and trousers can be acquired much cheaper, as they will likely need to be replaced more frequently.
What’s the best way to care for office wardrobe pieces?
Looking after your new capsule wardrobe is vital – when washing, use gentle cycles to protect the delicate materials of your woods and cottons. Once laundered, store your clothes effectively by using shape-retaining garment bags. Fold sweaters to avoid damage to the structure from hangers, and keep your shirts streamed and ironed.
Use dry cleaning to keep your silk ties and leather goods in top shape, ensuring they last for years to come.
How to add personality to minimal, neutral office basics?
Add your style to otherwise basic office attire by using a mix of different accessories such as jewellery (rings, bracelets or eye-catching cufflinks). Bold pocket squares and ties are great choices, too, allowing you to add some colourful flair! If you are feeling flashy, rock a pair of bright socks too, visible with cropped trousers or when seated at that next meeting.
You can always continually add key pieces to your wardrobe by collecting statement items such as overcoats, shoes, and even leather goods such as briefcases or man-bags. Soon, you will be the most fashionable guy in your office; always remember to retain your own style and individuality.