For the last part in the series of a capsule wardrobe for business wear we are looking at Accessories.
This is one of the ways you can really personalise the capsule and make it unique to you. But accessorising is also one of the things clients tell me they have the most trouble with. As someone who loves accessories, for me a capsule isn’t complete without them.
So let’s talk about the key pieces.
First of all shoes.
“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world” Bette Midler
I think Bette had the right idea. We do feel good when we are wearing the right shoes. I don’t think you can take on the boardroom or a big presentation in a pair of ballet pumps. I know not everyone can wear heels all day (myself included) but even a kitten heel will give you confidence. Personally I am not a fan of the super high heel, for me they say climbing the ladder not at the top and even if you are still climbing the ladder there is no harm in looking like you are at the top.
The Court shoe is perfect office partner and in the mid to high end High Street the best are from Hobbs and L.K. Bennett (top row). Start with neutrals black, navy, brown, tan, neutral or grey and choose really good quality and comfort as these will be your every day shoes. Once you have at least 2 pairs of neutrals that work in your capsule add in some accent colours or maybe an animal print.
The middle row grey and red are my boardroom or “I’m the boss” selection. Beautiful, high quality (expensive) they say “I’ve made it and I’m proud of the fact” without being showy. The black ankle strap shoes are a little on the risque side but with a very simple dress for daytime they would also take you from the office to dinner.
Did you ever think your shoes said so much?
Next in importance is the Handbag.
For the office a tote is smart and practical. As with shoes start with the neutrals and then add some colour and print.
It’s better to have one fantastic quality bag that you use all the time (it becomes your signature) than several cheap options that will damage your professional look. For your first neutral bag choose a classic that’s understated, no big designer badges. Look at labels like Tory Burch (black above), Hugo Boss (tan) that are great quality but not mortgage prices – around the £450 mark. Michael Kors does great totes (grey) at £2-300 or look at Knomo (navy) with built in laptop protection sleeve for under £200.
The next important piece is what you wear at your neck.
This can be a necklace or scarf. Not every outfit needs one, and your personality will also dictate what is right for you but there are two good reasons for wearing something. If you are wearing a simple dress, a scarf or necklace will give a polished look that shows you have attention to detail and the second reason is they draw the eye up to the face (great if you want to detract from other areas).
There are two considerations – firstly your scale, if you are petite a huge statement necklace will over power you so choose something finer. Secondly personality – this is a huge area in getting accessories right. For example someone who likes a comfortable laid back look will probably get irritated by a scarf and after fiddling with it constantly end up taking it off. Those who like clean lines will choose a simple style necklace whereas those who are more outgoing might choose something unusual that would be a talking point. Think carefully about what you want to project and try to find something that fits with that.
For those of you who are new to Looking Stylish you won’t know about my scarf addiction! I absolutely love a scarf and it is my signature accessory. I probably have one in most of the colours of my colour palette but they do have long lives and range from some great bargains around the £15 mark to a couple of Armani options and Pashminas in the hundreds. As someone suffering with a painful neck they serve a practical purpose in keeping it warm but I also use them to put my best colours next to my face. This is a great trick for wearing a dress or jacket that isn’t perfect colouring for you – by adding a scarf that is you can make it work.
Be adventurous and add a few low price options like the two animal prints above from Daniel to get you started then when you are happy that they work for you splash out (or put on your Christmas list) something beautiful like the pink Mulberry one above and make that your signature piece. My favourite scarf haunts are JIgsaw, Hobbs, Jaeger and John Lewis.
Again here think about scale and shape and choose one to suit you. A slim belt will work better on a petite person and if you are Apple shaped avoid belts all together. If on the other hand you have a well defined waist show it off with a coloured or printed belt. Again John Lewis, Hobbs and L.K. Bennett all have really good options of classic styles.
So that completes the series on business capsule wardrobe pieces. If you would prefer a capsule wardrobe done for you choose the Capsule Wardrobe Dossier service.
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