A lifestyle blog by a London gal who loves plants, metal, bleaching my hair and Osaka

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

My Work Capsule Wardrobe ♡ Preparing for work wear

A blue turtleneck and a grey plaid blazer laid out with a necklace, round glasses and a plain black watch.

Normally I'm not a huge fan of the 'capsule wardrobe' trend. It seems a good idea, but like a lot of 'minimalism', it seems to have been co-opted into just another excuse for people to chuck out all their current clothes and buy loads more new things. 

But the concept of capsule wardrobe was actually really useful for getting together work clothes for the first time a couple of years ago, and I thought it might be useful to do a quick run down of how I prepared (on the bare minimum budget as I was saving money to go out to Japan and to live on before I got my first pay cheque!)

I had a couple of wearable bits left over from Sixth Form, but longtime readers (from 2012-13) will know that I didn't exactly dress the smartest in sixth form... I really wanted to find a way to look smart but still have fun with clothes.

My plan was to buy the bare bones before I started, and then fill in other things if I need them/ when I get paid, and it mostly panned out!

Here's what I bought with me and what I ended up buying:

For Smart (i.e. matching suit set, looking 'polished') 

Blazers// I bought a houndstooth blazer from a vintage shop in Leeds, but it was deemed too "loud" so I wasn't actually allowed to wear it...  and my Mum gave me a black one ♡ I later bought the grey check skirt and blazer set up which was deemed more appropriate. 

Tops// I actually had a lot of men's collared shirts and turtleneck jumpers, so I didn't buy any new tops for work. But my advice here is: plain clothes look more "professional", so a couple of black or white shirts would have been good here.

Coat// I didn't have a proper posh coat, so I planned to buy a posh one in Japan. (TBH I didn't need a posh work coat as we changed before we started our shift.) I have one now though and I do love it a lot. 

Trousers// - I got new grey printed trousers from Zara- the fit is great and I love the check. I bought another black pair now I'm back home cos they're classic. The best thing was that the print matched my grey blazer so I had more options.

Skirts// I had a couple of short-ish but serviceable skirts, and I bought 2 more skirts (a black pencil skirt and a grey print skirt) that were a bit more work-appropriate once I'd been paid.

Work Shoes//  I went for Dr Martens 1416- I got the vegan leather which I slightly regretted because they were soo hard to break in ;-; But they look really cute and I could wear them for work and on my days off. 

Accessories// Small and simple jewellery can really make things look more put together, as can a nice belt! I also used to wear fake glasses quite a lot. I had short hair so I didn't need to tie it up, but sometimes a low ponytail really makes you look more "polished". 

Makeup// light makeup that wears well will never go wrong- although it depends on where you're working as to how fashionable you can be. I'll need to make sure I carry around a spare powder for touch ups.

Bag// I bought a plain black rucksack in Japan- the same black rucksack I used to have was still being sold by WEGO, and it's the perfect bag- it works for day and night, juust about fits A4 and can look smart or chill depending on how you style it. It was also an absolute steal at like 3000 yen (under £20).

Underwear/ tights// make sure your underwear isn't visible and maybe have a spare pair of tights in case of ladders.

So what I'd recommend to buy/ collect together for work:

  • 2 x matching suits- blazer and skirt or trousers
  • 6-7 x shirts or tops - a mix of plain, collared shirts (which are workwear staples that you can never go wrong with) and things like printed shirts and turtlenecks which can be slightly more casual
  • 1x pair of smart leather (or vegan leather etc.) shoes
  • 1x bag- plain, preferably weather resistant and large enough to hold your things
  • You probably have well fitting underwear, plain tights and socks etc. already, but if you don't I think these thing really help make you look more professional 
  • Depending on where you work: smart coat
  • A couple of small, plain accessories like a watch, belt etc. can also help you look more put together. 

My advice is to err on the smart side when you start work, and you can always dress things down once you learn more about the dress code and about what people actually wear.
Which is why it can also be a good idea to start with the bare minimum, so you don't end up with loads of too-smart clothes you don't actually wear.

For smart casual: 

At my current job, we're doing smart-casual because of coronavirus, so I usually wear jeans and a turtleneck. I tend to outfit repeat a lot tbh (decision fatigue is realll...) The only thing I *needed* to buy was some nicer fitting jeans because I didn't own any.
I will say that I started off smart and have gradually got more casual after seeing what my co-workers wore. This does help give a good first impression by making you seem like you're taking the job seriously. You can always wear a jacket/blazer and take it off.

I hope this helped, thanks for reading! What's your favourite thing to wear for work? And where do you get your workwear style inspiration- I'd love to know!
-Amy xoxo

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