Lots of my clients travel on business from time to time and I know some find it difficult knowing what clothes to pack, particularly if they want to fit everything within cabin-sized luggage.
The key to packing a capsule business wardrobe is to ensure that everything you take earns its place, in other words that each piece coordinates with several others so that it can be worn on multiple occasions. To show you how this can be done, I have out together an inexpensive sample business capsule wardrobe using a basic suit from from Next, dresses and tops from Kettlewell Colours and jewellery and footwear from M&S. Hobbs, The Fold and Winser London do excellent workwear for those with deeper pockets. Your own choice of pieces will naturally depend not only on your budget but on your personal preferences, colouring and body shape.
The basics in neutral and accent colours
You will notice that I have picked neutral colours for the jackets, skirt and trousers and added my colour accents with the tops and dresses. I have chosen navy as my key neutral as it works well on most people but just pick the neutral that suits you best. The colours I have used for the tops and dresses would be ideally suited to someone with fairly warm colouring and will of course all work with the suit and biker jacket; again, pick the accent colours that you enjoy wearing. I have also included a pair of dark wash jeans as these are great for travelling, easy to dress up or down for casual/evening and can be worn with every top.
In terms of footwear, you should be able to get away with packing just two pairs; heels and a pair of flats, both in a neutral colour that will work with all pieces. In the case of the sample wardrobe below, I would go for navy or stone. If you travel in white trainers, you will not only be comfortable for the trip but will also be able to wear them casually with all the other items of clothing (except the teal dress and pencil skirt, which I feel really need a shoe).
Jewellery is a great way to elevate an outfit so I’ve also included some necklaces that will coordinate well with the tops and dresses. You could equally include bracelets and earrings.
One of the challenges for women is managing multiple bags ie brief case, laptop bag, handbag. Rather than try to juggle all these (particularly difficult when it comes to shaking hands!), consider getting an over-sized tote bag that can accommodate not only your laptop, phone and paperwork but also a small, slim clutch or cross-body bag containing your purse and make-up essentials and which you can use when going out in the evening. If you can’t fit the latter in, a lightweight handbag organiser could be a good keep-in-the-bag option so that you’re not having to scrabble around to find essentials.
What to wear each day
Here’s a suggested way of wearing the capsule wardrobe I’ve put together over a six day business trip:
Day 1 (Travel)
Jeans + green stripey top + biker jacket
Navy blazer + navy trousers + red top
Wrap dress + biker jacket or blazer (if needed)
Navy blazer + skirt + lime green top + short necklace
Teal dress + navy jacket + longer length necklace
Day 6 (Work & Travel)
Navy trousers + coral top + biker jacket
For casual evenings, I would suggest wearing the jeans with trainers (or shoes if you want to look a bit dressier) and any of the tops and the biker jacket. For smarter evenings, the navy trousers worn with heels any the tops; the wrap or teal dresses with heels. Whichever option you go for, adding jewellery will elevate the outfit.