I’d like to start off by saying that I am not the best dressed person in the office, and I’m perfectly fine with this. My personal style ranges from boyish to corporate goth to mildly bohemian depending on the day and the mood I’m in when I wake up that morning. Three years ago, I crammed my wardrobe into a walk-in closet. My work clothes alone took up an entire wall, but I probably only wore a third of that on a regular basis. We tend to pick our favorites and re-wear those over and over again, anyway. So why not make a wardrobe composed entirely out of our favorite pieces?
When I decided to downsize, I focused on building a small wardrobe over time that was versatile enough to keep me interested in wearing the same pieces. In 2015 when I decided to make a career change, I donated just about everything that I had. This allowed me the opportunity to have a fresh start when I got my most recent corporate job. I didn’t splurge at the mall. I thought about the things I typically wore the most often, and I bought only the basics: one pair of dress pants, a few button-downs. I opted for items that I’d still wear on the weekends and pieces that could withstand weekly washing. I built it up slowly from there.
My current work capsule is 19 pieces total: 10 tops, 3 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, 1 dress, and 3 pairs of shoes. This is what I’m wearing pretty much every day but Casual Friday. You can ask my coworkers, because they never say, “is that new?!” My color palette is made up of a lot of black, cause old habits die hard, and cool colors such as blue, gray, and purple. Since I only have three pairs of shoes in this capsule, it’s very easy to contemplate footwear. Is it cold? Then I’ll wear the boots. Is it hot? I’ll wear the loafers. When I want to add a pop of color to my otherwise simple palette, I opt for my electric blue pumps.
It doesn’t bother me to wear the same pieces every week, because it minimizes the amount of time that I have to waste thinking about it. Most men don’t have to think about it at all, so why should I? I’m stubborn that way. If I were a cooler person, I would have work uniform and wear the same exact outfit each day, but I’m not quite to that point yet. Here are the current contents of my wardrobe. If you’re feeling creative, you can make upwards of 50 outfits with these items.
Here is the itemized list:
- 10 Tops:
- 1 turtleneck sweater
- 2 cardigans
- 2 long sleeve button-downs
- 1 striped turtleneck
- 2 short sleeve tops
- 2 sleeveless tops
- 1 dress
- 5 bottoms:
- 2 skirts (1 black, 1 patterned)
- 2 pairs lounge trousers (1 black, 1 patterned)
- 1 pair black skinnies
- 3 pairs shoes:
- 1 pair black heeled boots
- 1 pair pumps
- 1 pair loafers
I also keep my accessories to a minimum, although that’s not intentional. I have 4 pairs of earrings that I wear – 2 pairs of studs and 2 pairs of dangly earrings. I wear 2 bracelets, and 1 watch. I use my big black tote for pretty much everything, unless I’m riding my bike to work.
This wardrobe is what works for me personally. 19 pieces is not for everyone. Do you, whether that’s 50 or 10, or anything in between. Opening your closet and feeling a sense of calm and order in place of anxiety is usually a good indicator that you’ve found the right balance.