How to build the perfect summer capsule wardrobe for work

A capsule wardrobe might make choosing what to wear to work this summer less of a hassle.

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A capsule wardrobe might make choosing what to wear to work this summer less of a hassle.
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Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of just a few dozen clothing pieces that can be combined to make hundreds of outfits.

Think Mark Zuckerberg’s allegiance to a t-shirt and jeans, but with a lot more style.

If you want to save money or just pare down your possessions, creating a capsule wardrobe might be the ideal move for you. It can also cut down on decision fatigue, the exhaustion we feel as we use up willpower making mundane daily choices like what to wear and where to grab lunch.

But building an entire one from scratch may be intimidating. Image curator Scarlett De Bease, style coach Stasia Savasuk, and Lauren Bowling, an editor at the Financial Best Life and author of “The Millennial Homeowner: A Guide to Successfully Navigating Your First Home Purchase” shared their tips on creating a capsule wardrobe.

Here’s how to make a capsule wardrobe that can keep you professional, sweat-free, and stylish this summer.


Women can choose three to five bottoms and five to 10 blouses

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For women, Savasuk recommended three to five basic bottoms with five to 10 blouses and shirts – or five to 10 dresses.

De Bease recommended two to three pants, eight tops, and two casual jackets or cardigans.

“With the addition of necklaces, earrings, shoes and scarves that suit your character and personality, and you can personalize these professional outfits to reflect your own personal style,” Savasuk told Business Insider.


Men can buy three to five pairs of pants and up to 10 shirts

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For men, Savasuk said to choose three to five pairs of pants with five to 10 high-quality button-downs.

“If ties are required, purchase a few that reflect your character and personality, so you can bring your own flavor to ‘business professional,'” Savasuk said.


Stick to a few colors

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Whether you’re buying new pieces or just shopping your closet, sticking to mostly neutral colors is important.

Griffin recommended picking a neutral base like black or gray for most of your pieces, and a few articles of clothing in accent colors like blue or red.

“Everything should work together,” Griffin told Business Insider. “You shouldn’t have any closet singletons.”

It might seem boring, but it’s important so you can mix and match pieces. Having tops and bottoms in all shades of the rainbow is exciting until you realize you can only wear your striped yellow pants with the one black shirt you decided to buy.


When you pick your pieces, go for quality over quantity

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“It is more important to have clothes that fit properly than to have tons of ill-fitting clothes,” DeBease told Business Insider.

It might feel strange to know that you’ll only have around five bottoms to wear. But spending $100 on a gorgeous pair of pants that you can wear all the time is far better than five pairs of $20 pants that will fall apart after a few washes and feel vaguely itchy.


You can make your tiny wardrobe much bigger with some creativity

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You could also layer a sweater or cardigan over a shirt to create a different look than wearing the shirt alone.

Simple black pants can play second fiddle to a variety of colorful shirts.

And, for women, different scarves and accessories can totally change the look of a simple outfit. The same goes for men and ties.

“If you find a few high-quality basic pieces that fit your body perfectly, you can mix and match those pieces with various accessories to change the look completely,” Savasuk told Business Insider.