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Capsule Wardrobe: Business Casual

Capsule Wardrobe: Business Casual

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The “capsule wardrobe” represents everything we stand for at Articles of Style. 

It will help you dress better, save time & money, support artisans and shop sustainably. 

The key to a good capsule is that all (or most) of the items can be styled together to create different looks for different occasions, over a long period of time. 

With a perfect capsule you can get dressed with style in the dark and not have to shop for years. 

To give you an idea of how to build a wardrobe that is right for you, we put together an example of a capsule wardrobe for “Business Casual”.


19 ITEMS

This capsule wardrobe (and all of the looks that follow) is comprised of only 19 carefully selected items:

1: Start with a foundational suit

Start with an unstructured suit in a textured fabric like this hopsack - this will be the foundation of your wardrobe that you will build around.

Since your lifestyle is less "corporate" and more "business casual" we can try a suit color that is not navy or gray. A neutral earth tone, like this chocolate brown, for example is a great foundation that is approachable and surprisingly versatile. 

2,3,4: Add three shirts

Next add three shirts that vary in terms of their formality - like this mint bengal stripe oxford, lightweight chambray and khaki stripe poplin.

The key is that all three shirts work well with the suit.

5,6: Add two ties

In a business casual environment you probably don't need very many ties, but you want to be prepared in the event that you do need one. 

The key is that both ties work well with the suit, all three shirts and both trousers.

7,8: Add trousers

Next add two pairs of separate trousers, like this light gray fresco and khaki chino cotton. 

The key is that both trousers work well with the suit jacket and all three shirts.

9: Add a contrast vest

A vest is a great piece for a "business casual" wardrobe. It's not as formal as a jacket, but it keeps a professional appearance that is also fun. The vest is also a good opportunity to introduce a little pattern - like this silk tweed houndstooth.

The key is that the vest can be worn with the suit, all through shirts and both separate trousers. 

10. Add a shacket

Similar to the vest, a shacket plays an important role in the "business casual" wardrobe. It's the equivalent of a sportcoat, but it leans significantly more casual. Corduroy is an excellent choice because it's laid back and breaks in beautifully over time. 

The key is that the shacket works well with the suit trousers,all three shirts, both trousers, both ties and the vest.

11,12,13: Add three sweaters

Next add three knits. Keep them lightweight, fitted, and in colors that will compliment the other pieces (can't go wrong with earth tones). Consider three different fabrics and necklines to give yourself some variety - like this ivory cashmere mockneck, brown linen cardigan and cotton/silk long-sleeve polo.

The key is that all three knits work well with the suit, all three shirts, both ties, both separate trousers, the vest and the shacket. 

14. Add a pair of jeans

Every guy needs at least one great pair of jeans. We typically recommend a well-made pair of raw denim since they will look sharp and dressy at first and break-in beautifully over time (like this pair which is 10+ years old).

The key, once again, is that these jeans can be worn with the suit jacket, all three shirts, both ties, the vest, the shacket, and all three knits.

15: Add a universal coat

You're going to need a coat. The best place to start is with something that you can wear day in and day out, with or without a jacket, dressed up and dressed down. This oversized herringbone mac is a great example. 

The key is that this coat can be worn with the suit, all three shirts, both ties, both trousers, the vest, the shacket, all three knits and the jeans.

16: Add an all-weather coat

Next you'll need a coat for days when its raining, snowing or just nasty out. A trench, like this khaki gabardine, is a timeless option.

The key is that this coat can be worn with the suit, all three shirts, both ties, both trousers, the vest, the shacket, all three knits and the jeans.

Pro tip: foul weather separates the "good dressers" from the "great dressers". Being appropriately dressed for the elements (and protecting your overall wardrobe) is a huge part of dressing with style.

17,18,19: Add footwear

One boot, one lace-up, one loafer. That's usually a great way to start a footwear collection. In this example we are sticking to brown, because the wardrobe is based around earth tones. 

The key is all three pairs can be worn with the suit, all three shirts, both ties, both trousers, the vest, the shacket, all three knits, the jeans and both coats.


12 Looks

Now here is 15 different looks for different occasions, using only the 19 items that make up this capsule wardrobe:

1: All Business

As a "business casual" guy you probably don't wear a full suit very often, but you have to be prepared for a big meeting, an interview, a wedding, etc.

2. The Contrast Vest

Drop the tie and add the contrast vest/ This makes the look slightly less formal and business-orientated, and much more style-forward. Probably not as ideal for a serious business meeting, but much more suave for going out, a date, wedding, social gathering, etc.

3. Out with the Boys

The shacket can pass as business casual at most companies, and it's perfect for whatever activities you have planned for after work - the bar, the game, you name it.

4. Weekend Stroll

Just chilling, you?

5. Another Day at the Office

Vest + open cardigan, very underrated. For the spring (above) and Fall (below).

6. Night Out

Art gallery, theatre, restaurant opening, cocktails, date night, birthday party...you get the idea.

If you want to amp it up a notch, do it with the full suit (below).

7. Serious Seperates

Just because it's "business casual" doesn't mean you can't (or shouldn't) wear a jacket and tie.  

8. Not So Serious Separates

And sometimes you have to know when not to wear the jacket and tie - and trade it for a shacket and button-down collar.

9: Ready for the Elements

You're ready for that big meeting/event/wedding whether it rains (above) or snows (below).

10. Dinner with Clients

In the Fall (above) and Spring (below).

Look 11: Layered Up

A long sleeve polo sweater is a great multi-purpose item. You can wear it like a polo on the skin (as show above), or like a sweater over a shirt. 

12: Sexy Times

The sexiest outfits are simple, subtle and soft. Let the fit and the fabric shine.


PHILOSOPHY

Now, of course, there are plenty more great combinations using only these 19 items. This article was simply meant to share the philosophy of how to build a sustainable wardrobe and get the most out of your garments.

Remember the major keys to building a lasting capsule wardrobe:

1. Buy the best quality you can afford so it will last and you won’t have to replace it.

2. Never buy anything that doesn’t fit you properly, as poor fit is a leading reason why clothing gets discarded and replaced.

3. Avoid trends and logos at all costs. Look for generational designs that will never go “out of style” and look great on you.


YOUR CAPSULE

Need help?

Contact us anytime to set up a free video or phone consultation to discuss the perfect capsule wardrobe for you and your lifestyle.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier