The genius of a capsule wardrobe is the ability to create lots of different outfits from just a few pieces. And the way you do that is often through layering.
The more creative you get with your layers, the more variation you can get with your outfits. Especially at the end of a cold weather season that seems to last forever, outfit variation can save you from style boredom.
How to master layering for more creative outfits
If your layering technique previously stopped at “sweater over shirt” or “long shirt over short,” try these tips for mixing it up.
Aside from its creativity, layering is just downright practical. Getting more wear from fewer things works on a big scale (letting you trim down your wardrobe and gain more closet space) and a small one (packing is easier the less you need to bring).
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Do you have any advice for wearing ankle boots? I’m never sure if I’m doing it right.
I know what you mean! When I first got a pair, I could never come up with anything more creative than just wearing them under a pair of jeans or pants.
But thanks to the inspiration of other style bloggers, I’ve picked up a few tricks. Some of these might work for you, too.
- Classic. My initial stand-by option: wear them the way you would shoes, tucked under long pants. If your boots have heels or are wedges, you get the same leg-lengthening effect of pumps, especially if your boot color is close to your pant color.
- Chic. Match your boots to the same color hose and skirt or dress for a chic monochromatic profile. Or try booties and hose in colors that contrast with your skirt fabric.
- Creative. Show them off! I have a pair with leopard print trim at the ankle, so I wear them with my pants cuffed so the detail is revealed. (I like the look of narrower leg denim cuffed with slim booties and boyfriend denim cuffed with more casual wedge booties.) Or what about leggings + ankle socks + booties?
More ideas: Printed booties; outfit idea for turtleneck, jeans and booties in chic and classic styles; desert wedge booties; with a skirt. Or try this slideshow of ankle boot outfit ideas from WhoWhatWear.
// the outfit [level 4/Client Meeting] //
blazer: Calvin Klein [similar] / shirt: BCBG [similar] / skirt: Chico’s [similar] / tights: DKNY [similar] / scarf: JCPenney [similar] / boots: Impo [similar] / belt: Target [similar]
When I said you should be a style thief by borrowing outfit ideas from celebrities and magazines, I wasn’t kidding.
This one is totally adapted from a magazine, and not even editorial—the inspiration photo was from a TJMaxx ad!
The original outfit wasn’t exactly winter weather friendly, so these are the elements I
- belt over a blazer
- thick graphic scarf around the neck
- blazer sleeves rolled up to reveal the shirt underneath
- ankle booties
The end result was less fussy than I would have expected after combining so many little details together, but next time I might skip the belt or try a wider one; if you’re going to belt, it should look deliberate. Go big or go home!
Learn how to create outfits that fit your body, your budget—and your busy life. Get No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style, the only style makeover workshop you’ll ever need.
Dresses are a great foundation of a working woman’s wardrobe. Think of it as one-step dressing: Instead of building an outfit out of individual items, pull out a dress and shoes and bam, you’re done.
Dresses can also serve as foundation pieces, too. Wear these closet essentials layered under a blazer or cardigan, or over another top. Some creative mamas have even paired long skirts under shorter dresses, creating a whole new look for both items.
10 starter career dresses
This capsule wardrobe of 10 dresses can jump start a brand new career wardrobe, or guide you in a major closet overhaul.
The five classic dress styles will work for any office and a range of body types. This capsule is in complementary shades of black, grey, red and burgundy, but you could choose all brights, all neutrals or even all black.
- Sheath. Is there a more classic career dress? Simple and close-fitting, it’s always modern and makes a great basic to pair with blazers. (Think Joan on “Mad Men.”) Versions with ruching or tucking at the waist are an option if you’d prefer to camouflage your middle. Pear mamas, a print on top and solid on the bottom may give you the balance you’re looking for.
- Basic black. The office version of the LBD, a simple black dress in your favorite silhouette can be worn with anything and everything. You can’t go wrong with a black dress and a string of pearls for timeless elegance.
- A-line. Especially flattering to apple or inverted triangle body shapes, the A-line is similar to the sheath with a bit more width in the skirt.
- Wrap. Popularized by the ever-fabulous Diane von Furstenberg, a wrap dress in jersey fabric is chic, elegant and (maybe best of all) comfortable. Because it cinches at the waist, it’s universally flattering. (Smaller busted mamas, if you’re worried about gapping, this is where double-sided tape is your friend.)
- Flare. Also called the fit ‘n’ flare, this silhouette takes the A-line one step further with swingy fullness in the skirt. Because the skirt is less fitted, it’s looks good on most bodies.
- Shirtwaist. Sometimes called a shirtdress, this style first became popular in the ’50s (Think Betty on “Mad Men”). The men’s tailoring details in the fitted bodice make it perennially career appropriate and the fuller skirt, like it does for the flare style, works for all shapes.
If you’re not sure what dress shapes are best for you, try them on! Let the mirror be your guide. You’ll likely find more than one style that suits you.
And unless the garment you buy fits you perfectly right off the rack (often a rare feat!), you’ll want to take it to the tailor. Make sure it fits the widest part of your body and have the rest taken in. For example, I’m up to two sizes smaller on top than on the bottom, so I’ve had every one of my fit ‘n’ flare dresses altered. For a relatively small fee, I get a dress with a custom fit.
If you’re on a budget, keep in mind that you will likely find most of these styles at your local vintage and consignment shops. (What’s better than a new DVF wrap dress? A vintage ’70s DVF wrap dress!)
Then learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and build capsule wardrobes in the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop—including a checklist of closet essentials, like dresses.
This Casual Friday to Date Night outfit transition for the curvy girl is built around a flowing tunic for a romantic touch. And all pieces are either from plus size lines or come in a wide size range.
If you want more evening oomph, trade the flats for heels and swap the shoulder-strap bag for a sparkly clutch.
Next: get a step-by-step guide to buying clothes and creating outfits that flatter your body. It’s all included in “No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the fun, easy-to-follow style workshop.
I’m due in the summer and starting to show, but I’m not sure what to buy for the next few months. I need some maternity style advice!
First of all, congratulations! Pregnancy’s not always a party, but you get a great gift at the end
Maternity dressing is basically a condensed version of everyday outfit advice: get a few key pieces that are appropriate for your lifestyle and then build outfits around them. Luckily, there are more places than ever before to find cute maternity wear, especially online.
So if you’re a working mama, that means maternity dresses, pants, tops and maybe a jacket or two. For casual wear, you can live in the same one or two pairs of denim until you can’t stand them any more.
(Which is actually an argument for splurging on at least one pair of premium maternity denim. Wear the holy living heck out of it, and your Cost Per Wear is practically zero.)
And basic T-shirts in standard colors will mix and match with pretty much everything ever.
This week’s capsule wardrobe of casual and career maternity wear will get you started. It’s aimed at mamas who need winter outfits right now, but the same principles will apply for spring and summer outfits.
The clothes you wear during pregnancy are pretty much a capsule wardrobe by definition. Unless you’ve got a bottomless wallet, you want to buy the least number of things possible since you’ll only be wearing them for a few months.
This capsule wardrobe of maternity clothes will build multiple outfits for a week or more.
Maternity clothes capsule wardrobe
To take you from casual weekends to days in the office, I’ve mixed T-shirts and denim with comfortable knit dresses and separates, like a basic pair of black pants. (As a martial artist, I couldn’t resist the Ninja in Training tee.)
The shirts can layer underneath the dresses or tunics when it’s cold and the cardigan can be worn on top of everything. Bonus: The v-neck dresses can double as nursing wear post maternity leave.
As for the shoes: yes, they’re more practical than fabulous. But for every mama who walks through her pregnancy in stilettos, I think there are more of us who waddled through in comfortable shoes!
This capsule can also form the basis of a maternity wardrobe for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters–or whenever your baby bump requires the extra room. Add a few more of each type of item and you can get dressed for months.
Break up the boredom of repeats with accessories. Lots and lots of accessories.
- Fab mamas: What were your maternity wardrobe all-stars? How far into your third trimester did you want to burn everything?