Year-Round Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe & Checklist

Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe year round

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As office-goers are well aware, a business casual dress code calls for a blend of professional and relaxed clothing. So, a business casual capsule wardrobe is a collection of versatile pieces (think trousers, blouses, and a blazer or two) that effortlessly mix and match for smart casual outfits. The capsule allows you to easily create polished outfits that serve you in the office and beyond.


Ah, the business casual dress code. Let’s all nod along like we know exactly what that means. Okay, now for the truth. It’s a bit murky. Worry not. Here are a few quick tips if you’re new to the smart casual scene.

  • Wear blouses and button-down tops that you can layer with.
  • Accessorize with tasteful jewelry for an elevated look.
  • Pay attention to fit to avoid anything too loose or tight.


  • Wear shorts, flip-flops, or athletic sneakers.
  • Sport distracting clothing like neon colors, loud prints, or big graphics.
  • Be overly revealing. Conservative necklines and hemlines are essential.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links meaning I earn a small commission when you shop the links, at no cost to you.


So, you want to look chic at the office while staying comfortable? Explore the business capsule wardrobe below to build a polished closet.

Work Tops (6)

Building a work wardrobe? Let’s take it from the top. To keep things fresh yet easy to mix and match, opt for tops with timeless necklines. Then, pick a few statement shirts that align with the main colors in your wardrobe.

Button Down Top


Why it’s an officewear staple: A crisp Oxford never goes out of style. This pillar piece is a smart casual classic that shines on its own and pairs equally well under a crewneck or blazer.

What to look for: Pick an oxford in a breathable fabric like cotton and pay attention to fit. A tailored blazer gives a more professional look while an oversized one feels more relaxed. Play around with different fits to see what strikes your fancy (and your office dress code, of course).

Silk Blouse


Why it’s an officewear staple: Lightweight and sophisticated, silk is a dream fabric that holds up all day at the office. A silk blouse drapes beautifully whether it’s paired with tailored trousers or a pair of nice jeans. Pop one on and schedule “looking elegant” as an all-day event on your calendar.

What to look for: When building your business casual wardrobe, fit and fabric is oh-so important. Look for a high-quality silk top that fits the chest, shoulders, and waist well. Be sure to select a color that pairs well with your existing office wardrobe.

Mock Neck Top


Why it’s an officewear staple: Something about a high neckline offers an instant professional boost to a work outfit. If you’re at a loss for what to wear at the office, the mock neck (or cowl neck) top is a flattering piece that elevates without constricting.

What to look for: When building your business casual wardrobe, fit and fabric is oh-so-important. Look for a high-quality silk top that fits the chest, shoulders, and waist well. Be sure to select a color that pairs well with your existing office wardrobe.

Shell Tank


Why it’s an officewear staple: Don’t sleep on the simple shell tank. This office attire is a lightweight and clean addition to a summer business capsule wardrobe. It pairs exceptionally well with lightweight cardigans or blazers.

What to look for: Shell tanks come in a range of necklines including scoop neck, v necks, and cowl neck options. Choose one with a semi-loose fit as they look best draped over the body.

Boat Neck Top


Why it’s an officewear staple: Let’s hear it for the boat neck top. It offers a sleek way to elevate your office looks while staying comfortable. I never feel constricted in my boat neck top and can dress it up or down easily. The neckline sits high on the collarbone, letting just a little skin peek through for a sophisticated effect.

What to look for: For fit, try on a boat neck top to ensure it sits evenly along your collarbone and doesn’t gape. While they come in many colors, be sure to get a few neutral options for easy mixing and matching.



Why it’s an officewear staple: A turtleneck is another effortlessly sleek staple worth adding to your closet. Tuck one into a pair of tailored pants, layer one beneath a sweater vest, or pop one on with a pencil skirt. No matter how you wear it, a turtleneck is practical and polished.

What to look for: Turtlenecks come in both thick and lightweight fabrics so you can wear them all year round. Opt for a style with a little stretch to avoid an overly tight top in a professional environment.

Work Bottoms (4)

Dress Pants


Why it’s a work wardrobe essential: With flattering cuts and top-notch versatility, dress pants are a business casual wardrobe essential you’ll want multiple pairs of. High-waisted pants with a tapered leg are a classic.

What to look for: For chic office outfits you can wear from 9-5, reach for tailored dress pants with a comfortable waistband. Choose pants in colors like navy, cream, black, and tan easy to mix and match with your office shirts.

Pencil Skirt


Why it’s a work wardrobe essential: Scan any business casual outfits Pinterest board and you’re sure to see the ever-popular pencil skirt. And it’s no wonder. These skirts are flattering and feminine. Wear them year round with your favorite office tops and you may just win best-dressed in the office. Is there a bonus included with that title?

What to look for: Most office dress code policies include rules around garment length. Choose a pencil skirt that is knee length or hits just above the knee to ensure yours is in compliance. Also, not to be the print police, but keep it toned down at the office. In most industries, loud pencil skirts (think animal prints or bright colors) are best left for after hours.

Midi Skirt


Why it’s a work wardrobe essential: A midi skirt is a great choice for professionals seeking a longer skirt option than the classic pencil variety. Since it’s such a feminine silhouette, it offers rrom to play around with more structured tops for contrast or to enhance the femme angle with dainty tops. The possibilities abound for this smart casual piece.

What to look for: Be on the lookout for a midi skirt with a comfortable waistband that you can sit in for hours. As for fabric, look for a wrinkle-resistant option so you have a smooth, crease-free skirt even after a full day at the office.

Wide Leg Trousers


Why it’s a work wardrobe essential: Wide-leg trousers have to be one of the most comfortable staples on this list. They drape over the legs and elongate the body. What’s not to like? Depending on the fit, this work wardrobe staple can really put the casual in business casual. But when balanced out with a nice top, they give off that polished professional aura.

What to look for: Choose high-quality fabric like cotton, wool,  or silk blends. And for the fit? Get a pair that sits well on the waist and loosely drapes over the legs. That way, you’ll exude the “I’m just naturally fashionable without trying” vibe to your colleagues.

Work Dresses (3)

Are dresses suitable for business casual? Yes. Just ensure your fashionable frocks have a conservative neckline and are knee-length or longer. Here are some tried and true styles to sprinkle into your smart-casual capsule.

Midi Dress


Why it’s an officewear staple: Just like your favorite colleague, a midi dress works well with others. Yes, it looks equally sleek with a pair of ballet flats, booties, or slingback pumps.

What to look for: Choose a midi dress with a conservative neckline. To add some flare, look for options with fun shoulder detailing or asymmetrical necklines. Then slip it on and have an amazing workday, you midi dress maven.

Shift Dress


Why it’s an officewear staple: Getting dressed for work is simple with a shift dress. First off, the straight cut is very flattering. Unlike a pencil skirt or tight dress, the billowy shift is forgiving around the stomach area. Plus, it’s typically sleeveless or short-sleeved so it’s a solid option when spring and summer roll around.

What to look for: It may take some trial and error to find the ideal shift dress. If you’re petite, it’s possible to get swallowed by a shift dress. So opt for one that hits just above the knee. And we can’t forget to talk fabric- look for elegant prints and fabrics like tweed or jacquard.

Wrap Dress


Why it’s an officewear staple:  Another classic on our work wardrobe list is the wrap dress. When a piece cinches the waist and creates a beautiful hourglass shape, it’s hard not to fall in love. Wrap dresses can be dressed up (think heels and a blazer) or down (picture a cardigan and mules) so having one at the ready is a great call.

What to look for: When picking your wonderful wrap dress, pay attention to the neckline since many wrap dresses feature v-necks. Choose one that’s not too revealing. Also, remember that prints have their place in a business casual capsule wardrobe. Look for dresses with classic prints like floral, pinstripe, or houndstooth.

Office Outerwear (3)

Pro tip: Never underestimate the power of good outerwear. A well-structured coat, a polished blazer, or a classic trench can be the added layer that your business capsule is looking for. Read on to give commute the style upgrade it deserves.




Why it’s a work wardrobe essential: No business casual capsule is complete without a blazer. Your midi dress, crisp oxford, and pencil skirt all benefit from the addition of this essential. Versatility is not the only benefit the blazer brings to the (conference) table. It’s such a good layering piece that it only makes sense to have a few on hand. Pop one on and you can take an outfit from casual to smart casual easily.

What to look for: The more buttons your blazer has, the more formal it will typically feel. In business casual settings, a one-button blazer is suitable for your office outfits. You can also opt for a no-button open front style for an effortless yet polished look.



Why it’s a work wardrobe essential: Long, short, buttoned, unbuttoned. There’s a cardigan for everyone and every office. If you need a good layering piece to slip over your office tops, look no further than the humble cardigan. When someone cranks up the AC in the office again, you’ll really understand why the cardigan is a work wardrobe must-have.

What to look for: Pay attention to the details of the cardigan including the buttons, sleeve style, and cut. Drapey long cardigans work in some business casual offices while structured cardigans are more suitable in others.

Trench Coat


Why it’s a work wardrobe essential: Ah, the timeless trench coat. Shield yourself from the elements with this practical piece. You can easily layer a trench coat over your business casual outfit to add interest and sophistication.

What to look for: Look for a neutral trench coat so that you can mix and match it with the colors and patterns in your business casual capsule wardrobe. If you’re in a rainy climate, select one in a waterproof or water-resistant fabric.

Office Shoes (4)

Step into a better business casual capsule wardrobe with the shoes below. From classic loafers to comfortable booties, there’s sure to be a pair of shoes that suits your style below.

Slingback Heel


Why it’s an officewear staple: Slipping on a pair of slingbacks takes your outfits to the next level. The helpful straps wrap around the back of the heel, keeping it in place all day. While slingbacks can make an appearance anytime, it’s an ideal office shoe in the spring and summer.

What to look for: To step out in style and comfort, look for a heel in a comfortable height. To save yourself the trouble of scuffed slingbacks, opt for a material that holds up against wear and tear. Leather is one option here.



Why it’s an officewear staple: Closed toe. Leather. Moscow. Who doesn’t love a mule? Okay, the last one is for post-work drinks. But mules are a must-have if you’re on a quest to be cute and comfortable at work. From sleek suede options to lovely leather pairs, these slide-on shoes are great for on-the-go professionals.

What to look for: Consult your office dress code to see if open-toed shoes are allowed. In many workplaces, closed-toed shoes are de riguer. In that case, you still have plenty of options to choose from.

Block Heel


Why it’s an officewear staple: To add height or to be comfortable? With block heels, you get both. These heels are designed to offer support. So if you need to be on your feet for extended periods of time, block heels are your best friend. What to look for: Shop for a heel that is under 3 inches and wide enough to offer solid support.



Why it’s an officewear staple: No, loafers are not just reserved for dark academia capsule wardrobes. These cushioned shoes are a stellar choice when you want to feel comfortable while looking put together. An added bonus? The platform versions offer a little height boost.

What to look for: When picking out loafers, material matters. Leather and suede varieties are durable and classic. As for color, look to your office wardrobe for a guide. In my capsule, brown, white, and pink are the prominent colors so a brown pair of loafers would fit well. If black was prominent, I’d reach for a pair in that color.

Want more essentials? Check out the full capsule wardrobe checklist


I mixed and matched the versatile pieces in the capsule to create office outfits for different seasons. Get some style inspiration below!


Silk blouse with white jeans and block heels business casual capsule wardrobe outfit
Business Casual Jeans Office Outfit with striped sweater
jeans with trench coat and oxford shirt business casual outfit


Business Casual Fall Outfit with trousers and loafers
Business Casual Outfit Silk Blouse and Jeans
Business Casual Outfit Sweater and Trousers with loafers


Summer Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe Outfit with white jeans and cowl neck top
Business Casual Summer Dress with flats


Yes, the fall fits below are different from the rest. These outfits feature my own business casual staples.


We’re about to cover how to build a business casual capsule from the ground up. But first, browse this checklist as a guide. Feel free to edit to make it your own.

TOPS (6):

  • Button-Down Top (Crisp & timeless)
  • Silk Blouse (Lightweight & sophisticated)
  • Mock Neck Top (Elegant & versatile)
  • Shell Tank (Lightweight & great for layering)
  • Boat Neck Top (Sleek and easy to pair)
  • Turtleneck (Practical & polished)


  • Dress Pants (Chic & versatile)
  • Pencil Skirt (Flattering & feminine)
  • Midi Skirt (Feminine silhouette, versatile)
  • Wide Leg Trousers (Comfortable & polished)


  • Midi Dress (Versatile & sleek)
  • Shift Dress (Simple & flattering)
  • Wrap Dress (Cinches the waist, versatile)


  • Blazer (Polished & essential)
  • Cardigan (Cozy, great for layering)
  • Trench Coat (Timeless & functional)


  • Slingback Heel (Elevated & comfortable)
  • Mules (Comfortable & stylish)
  • Block Heel (Supportive & versatile)
  • Loafers (Classic & comfortable)
Business Casual Capsule Wardrobe year round


Getting dressed for work can be a breeze. If you’d rather not stare at your closet wondering what to wear each morning, it’s time to build a business casual capsule wardrobe. The upfront energy it takes is well worth the time you’ll save each morning as you get ready for work.

Here are some capsule-building steps for a smart casual capsule:


Put on some music and a cozy outfit. It’s time to delve into your wardrobe and take inventory. The first step lets you know exactly what you’re working with. Here’s what to do:

  • Go through your closet and pull out all the clothes you wear to work
  • Look at each piece and place them in a keep or toss pile
  • Take the pieces you love and place them in a separate area of your closet. This is the start of your capsule wardrobe.

As you go through your current workwear, pull out pieces that fit well, align with the office dress code, and make you feel confident. Get rid of anything that no longer fits, is damaged, or doesn’t align with your style anymore.


While getting inspiration from capsule wardrobe checklists is helpful, you’ll need to tailor your wardrobe to suit your daily activities. Here are three important elements to consider:

Your Daily Commute 

Are you driving, walking, or taking public transportation? Consider what wardrobe pieces are practical depending on your commute.

Office Dress Code

Next up, take a visit to your inbox and unearth your handy office dress code policy. How does your office define business casual? Use this to guide the pieces you put on rotation in your wardrobe.

The Climate

Lastly, determine what season your capsule wardrobe is for. This will depend on your location. In DC, for example, summer and winter capsule essentials are very different. If you live in a city that’s sunny year-round, you won’t need that thick wool coat, no matter how chic it looks.

sezane store interior featuring purses and candles


An undeniable benefit of a work capsule wardrobe is the ease of getting dressed. To enjoy it, focus on clothing that you can easily mix and match. This is where selecting a color palette comes in handy. Choose a neutral base color like black, white or navy. Then add in supporting colors for dimension.

As you go through your current office clothes, you may notice a pattern emerging. If you own a lot of black, that can be an easy base color to start with. I had a lot of browns and tans so I selected that as the base for my business capsule closet and used pale pink as an accent color.

Are you a delicate clothing devotee? Explore this feminine capsule wardrobe for chic outfit ideas for the office and beyond. 


Okay, you have clothing options. But how many pieces should be in a business casual capsule wardrobe? To figure this out, set a range for each clothing category rather than a strict number.

Here’s an example capsule wardrobe size range:

Shirts: 5-10 

You’ll want at least five shirts- one for each day of the week. It’s helpful to add more so that you have variety and don’t have to do laundry constantly.

Pants: 4-5

Pants are easier to repeat than tops so having a handful of them should be enough. Grab a few in a neutral color and one statement pair to spice things up.

Dresses: 2-3 

Dresses are a great one-and-done office wear item. Have a couple on hand for easy and quick outfits.

Skirts: 2-3

Some women love wearing skirts to the office. If you do, you may want more skirts and fewer pants. Tailor the capsule to your preferences.

Outerwear: 3-4 

For a summer business casual capsule, you may only need a couple of light cardigans. When temperatures drop, having a rotation of blazers or coats is helpful.

business casual capsule wardrobe


Once you’ve compiled your wardrobe, it’s time for the fun part- creating and wearing chic outfits for the office!  If you choose enough pieces and select colors that pair well, you can easily put together looks. But, corporate cutie, you may have a few bumps in the road.

Your first few weeks with the capsule are a time of learning. Use it to:

  • Identify gaps in your wardrobe. Are there items that you repeatedly wish you had?
  • Find out which pieces you don’t wear. Are there items that you never use?
  • Figure out the best outfit combinations. How many ways can you mix and match current pieces?

Pro Tip: Rather than buying new clothes at the start of the capsule-building process, wait until you’ve experimented with the current pieces in your closet. That way, you can identify gaps and fill them in accordingly.


You made it through the capsule creation process. What’s next? Maintain your wardrobe. This means keeping it neat and wrinkle-free. It also means assessing your closet regularly to ensure each piece suits your needs. See the full guide to capsule maintenance here.

Think of the assessment as a quarterly review- minus the anxiety. As the seasons and your style change, remove and add clothing items. Pruning your closet will help it from becoming too large. We want a manageable capsule, after all.

one shoulder sweater 3 ways

Looking for a slightly vintage-style capsule? Browse this dark academia wardrobe.


Work Environment 

How formal do your colleagues and superiors dress? You should aim to match this level of formality. Some offices are more on the casual side of business casual. Others tilt towards a more professional attire. Take this into consideration when picking the staple pieces for your capsule.

Comfort Level

It’s important to feel comfortable, not constricted when you’re at work. Focus on a small number of high-quality pieces that fit well. Look for breathable fabrics and versatile layering pieces so you can easily adjust for temperature changes.

Wardrobe Cost 

How much do you plan to spend on your work attire? To create an affordable capsule wardrobe, set a budget to work within. It’s helpful to start with the items you own and gradually building around them, creating the ideal capsule over a few months rather than all at once.

When looking for business casual attire, shop at stores like Nordstrom, Quince, Everlane, M.M.LaFleur, and Banana Republic. If you like timeless pieces, this list is ideal:


Best Capsule Wardrobe Brands to Shop, At Every Price Point
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