24 Best Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe Essentials

Are you looking to simplify your work outfits by building a business casual capsule wardrobe? We’re sharing workwear essentials to make getting dressed in the mornings easier — no personal stylist required!

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how to build a business casual wardrobe

In my years working in a corporate setting, I learned that you can look professional while maintaining a certain level of comfort.

My former office dress code was business casual. However, some took that to mean “wear whatever you want.” 

In this post, we’ll detail what to include in your personal business wardrobe and professional outfit ideas you can recreate for yourself.

WHAT IS BUSINESS CASUAL?

Business casual for women is less formal than traditional business wear, like a suit, but not too relaxed like a T-shirt and jeans.

Many may refer to this work style as a smart casual wardrobe.

Smart casual pieces for women may include sleek trousers, blouses (usually covering the shoulders), pencil, midi, or maxi skirts, and a pair of heels and loafers. 

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BUILD A WARDROBE YOU LOVE GUIDE

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Inside, you’ll discover expert tips and strategies to curate a wardrobe that reflects your unique personality and lifestyle. From defining your personal style to organizing your closet like a pro, we’ll walk you through every step of the process. 


BUSINESS CASUAL CAPSULE WARDROBE

A business casual capsule wardrobe is a collection of items that you can use to style numerous smart casual outfits.

It’s a great option for professionals looking to simplify their mornings and get the most out of their new clothes.

With fewer items in your closet, you’re not stuck thinking up what to wear.

This ready-to-go wardrobe means all you have to do is pick a top, a bottom, and some footwear and you’re out the door. 

2024 BUSINESS CASUAL CAPSULE WARDROBE

HOW TO BUILD A BUSINESS CASUAL CAPSULE WARDROBE

To begin, you’ll want to take inventory of your current closet situation.

Take a look at the outlined items above or download this work capsule wardrobe checklist to see what you already own. 

capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothing items that can work interchangeably to create multiple outfit combinations. 

Most times capsule wardrobes contain neutral clothing — think black, white, beige, navy, and grey.

There are also a few other things to consider when building a business casual capsule wardrobe.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CREATING YOUR OWN CAPSULE WARDROBE

LOCAL CLIMATE


Where you live will make a big difference in what you should include in your smart-casual capsule wardrobe.

If you live somewhere that is predominately warm, a heavy wool coat or tall boots may not be a priority to have. 

If you live somewhere that is predominately cold most of the year, you may have to consider additional outerwear to your closet collection. 

One of the benefits of curating your workwear capsule wardrobe is that you will include items that you can wear multiple times year-round.

You want your dollar to go far, especially if you are going to be investing in key pieces. 

Whether you are starting a new job or deciding to spruce up your daily workwear, taking a look at your company’s employee guide will help guide your purchasing decisions.

For example, at my past corporate job, we could not wear spaghetti strapped or strapless tops, jeans with holes or frays, or workout clothes. Other examples of clothing items to avoid:

  • Ripped, torn, or frayed clothing
  • Clothing with non-work-related logos
  • Low-cut or revealing clothing
  • Sandals or open-toed shoes
  • Cropped shirts
  • Shorts
  • Skirts or dresses with high hemlines (above the knee)
  • Leggings
  • Athletic clothing
  • Sweatshirts or sweatpants
  • Off-the-shoulder shirts or dresses
  • Excessive or noisy jewelry
  • Athletic shoes
  • Hats

PERSONAL STYLE

Another thing to consider when curating a professional capsule wardrobe is your style. Again, you want to get the most wear from your wardrobe.

That doesn’t mean you can’t wear your work button-down shirt on the weekend with some shorts and sandals. We want you to get the most out of your style choices. 

Also, because your work capsule wardrobe consists of predominate neutral color palettes, you can add in some bright colors or prints if that is what you prefer.

I love a leopard-print blouse paired with black trousers or a pink top and navy pants. Your business casual capsule wardrobe is just a base to start and build from there. 

PERSONAL BUDGET

Finally, you want to set a budget if you need additional items you don’t already own.

Setting a budget will help guide you to the brands and retailers that won’t break the bank.

You will also have to consider that because these items may get a lot of wear, you’ll want to invest in pieces that will last.

A pair of Old Navy pants for $20 may look nice initially, but how will they hold up after numerous washes?

PRO TIP: List the items that you want to purchase and rank them from most needed to least needed.  If a pair of black trousers is high on your list, budget and save to buy a pair that you know will last.  
Once you have purchased the item, budget and save for the next item. You do not have to buy everything at once. Work with what you have.

2024 BUSINESS CASUAL CAPSULE WARDROBE CHECKLIST

The great thing about building your capsule wardrobe is that you can customize it to suit your personality.

Whether you prefer neutral colors or enjoy a little color, the possibilities are endless.

The main thing to remember when building your ideal work wardrobe is to find versatile pieces that can work well with the rest of your pieces. 

TOPS

CREW NECK TSHIRT

A crew neck t-shirt is a great addition to your capsule wardrobe. And if you already practice this type of minimalist dressing, you probably already have a few in your closet. 

Opt for a crew neck instead of a v-neck when searching for a plain t-shirt. V-neck t-shirts have a more laid-back casual feel and a crew neck t-shirt is a little more elevated. 

BUTTON-DOWN SHIRTS

Button-down shirts are the quintessential choice for many working in an office setting. Not only are they classic but they are also so versatile. 

Be sure to look for a shirt that fits well and is not too oversized. Oversized button-downs are everywhere right now but are best left for your weekend wear. 

The shirt should fit close to your body and be long enough to tuck into your bottoms. Also, be sure the sleeves are long enough and hit right at the wrist bone. 

MOCK NECK BLOUSE

Mock neck blouses are a great addition to any workwear wardrobe.

They are chic and add interest to an outfit while also being more on the conservative side thanks to their high neckline. 

SHELL TANK OR CAMISOLE

A camisole and shell tank are staples in any workwear collection. They are great for layering with a cardigan or blazer when the weather is cooler. And you can wear them alone when it starts to warm up. 

However, camisoles tend to show a lot of skin, so I would opt for a shell tank during the spring and summer.

BOTTOMS

DRESS PANTS

Dress pants are another item that everyone should have in their wardrobe, regardless of where they work. 

For a business casual pair of pants, look for one with belt loops that hit right above the ankle bone.

Black ankle pants are a little less formal than suit pants and allow you to highlight cute office footwear.

PENCIL SKIRT

A pencil skirt can feel more formal than what a business casual dress code requires but can look so chic and elevated. 

Due to dress code restrictions, look for a pencil skirt that hits right above or at the knee. 

midi skirt

A midi skirt is an elegant way to elevate your work attire. Satin midi skirts are having a moment these past few years and add contrast to your outfit.

Look for one with an elasticized waistband for comfort and make sure it hits mid-calf for the optimal office look.

WIDE LEG TROUSERS

Wide-leg trousers have easily transitioned from the workplace to the streets. Chances are you have already hopped on this smart casual trend. 

Just be sure that you don’t go overboard with the volume and make sure it is tailored so you are not dragging material when you walk. 

dark wash denim

For those casual Fridays, be sure you have a pair of dark-wash denim to complete your work wardrobe. Look for a pair that does not have any holes, frays, or raw hems.

Classic denim styles are best — save the barrel jeans for the weekend.

WORK DRESSES

SHIFT DRESS

A shift dress is an effortless way to dress for the office. They are simple and so easy to just throw on and go. 

Most shift dresses are sleeveless and make a great outfit idea for the summer. If your office gets a little chilly, layer on a cardigan or blazer to complete your look.

WRAP DRESS

A wrap dress is a comfortable office outfit and will be something you reach for time after time.

Wrap dresses skim the hips and thighs making it a flattering fit for most body types.

They are also flattering for pear-shaped and apple-shaped bodies as they create a balanced silhouette. 

OFFICE OUTERWEAR

CARDIGAN

Cardigans are great for the office and can be worn with numerous outfits. Even in the summer, you may reach for a cardigan if your office is cold. 

Look for one that has buttons or an open-front cardigan to layer on top of your outfits.

BLAZER

Classic blazers are a must in any office wardrobe. They can easily elevate any outfit and instantly make you look more professional.

I love the look of a blazer with a jeans outfit to balance out the casual vibes at the office. To begin, add a black blazer to wear year-round and a tan blazer for the warmer months.

TRENCH COAT

A trench coat is iconic and instantly elevates your office outerwear. Opt for a classic tan or black trench coat to make sure it pairs well with most of your outfits. 

Also, make sure to choose one with a classic length, mid-thigh to knee-length, and skip the cropped trench trend for the office.

BUSINESS CASUAL SHOES

LOAFERS

Loafers are a comfortable office footwear choice for everyone. They are classic and professional pairs of shoes and won’t leave your feet hurting by the time you go home. 

Choose classic styles and leave the lug sole loafers for the weekend. 

SLINGBACKS

Slingbacks are another footwear choice that is perfect for the office. In 2024, kitten heel slingbacks were all over the runways making it a practical and stylish footwear pick. 

HEELS

Heels are a great way to elevate your professional outfits. Look for neutral pumps in the color black and/or tan. 

MULES

A more casual footwear option is mules. They cover up the toes and are very comfortable to wear 9-5. These slip-on shoes are also ideal if you are in a rush out the door.

FLATS

Flats are ideal if you work in the office and are on your feet most of the day. A pair of ballet flats are also great to keep on hand if you do a lot of walking to get to work. 

If you are looking for a trendy option, try a Mary Jane flat.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WORK CAPSULE WARDROBE CHECKLIST HERE

WHERE TO SHOP FOR WORK CAPSULE WARDROBE ITEMS

The best way to narrow down which brands to check out for your work capsule wardrobe is to consider your budget. 

I don’t think that just because you pay $200 for an item means it’s better than a $50 item. For example, I was gifted a dress from Revolve for about $200.

When it arrived, the material was so cheaply made and not something you would expect for $200.

I’ve also purchased items for about $50 and the material is so luxe and you can just tell it will last.

That being said, I have listed retailers below with great workwear selections depending on price points.

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BUSINESS CASUAL OUTFIT IDEAS

BUSINESS CASUAL OUTFITS WITH JEANS

Jeans in the workplace are usually reserved for a more laid-back Friday outfit.

However, many companies are OK with their employees wearing jeans all week as long as it leans towards a more professional look. .

BUSINESS CASUAL OUTFITS WITH DRESSES AND SKIRTS

Dresses and skirts are another great workwear outfit idea, especially in the warmer months.

Just be mindful of your company’s dress guidelines for hem length recommendations. You can never go wrong with just above-the-knee or knee-length dresses and skirts. 

BUSINESS CASUAL OUTFITS WITH CARDIGAN AND BLAZERS

A layering piece such as a cardigan or blazer is a perfect addition to any work wardrobe, especially during the colder months.

It not only adds a bit of sophistication but can instantly polish up many different outfits. 

2024 BUSINESS CASUAL CAPSULE WARDROBE CHECKLIST

MORE OUTFIT IDEAS FROM OUR 2023 COLLECTION

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