Spring Capsule Wardrobe Part 8 – Choosing Accessories

I love this part of a capsule wardrobe because it’s what makes it individual. When I create a capsule wardrobe for a client no two are the same. However, I may put the same dress or suit in two wardrobes but what makes them different are the finishing touches; the accessories. Maybe they both have a navy suit as part of their neutral core wardrobe. But the first might be soft in colouring and like feminine pieces so her shoes could be a lighter blue suede whereas the second might like to make more of a statement so she might have animal print shoes or a red bag.

You can make a statement with your accessories even if you are wearing the most corporate of suits. And at the weekend you can really bring your personality in to your casual wardrobe. Do you like classic ballet flats or androgynous Brogues? Do you prefer clean lines and simple accessories or swathes of scarfs and jangling bangles? Take advantage of the fun that accessories can bring to your wardrobe – don’t be scared to try them out and find out what you really like.

So this final piece of creating the Spring sample capsule looks at which accessories to include. It’s a long one so grab a cup of coffee.

Starting with shoes.

For work your best option is the court shoe but depending on where you work there can still be some variety:

capsule wardrobe accessories, court shoes

Shoes from left top row – Cream // Taupe // Slingback // Two part // Suede // Ankle strap //

The classic court has a medium high heel and either a rounded or pointed toe depending on the seasonal trend, although you won’t go wrong with either. If you want to give the illusion of lengthening the leg choose a pointed toe though. Choose leather, patent or suede. Patent looks less heavy for the warmer months of the year and suede obviously isn’t practical for wet days.

Start with a neutral colour if you are only buying one pair. Choose black, grey or navy for the winter months and navy, stone/taupe/camel and silver grey for the summer. If you want to wear black courts for the summer I’d opt for a patent pair. Once you have your neutral pair (or two) you can add some colour. Pick out one of the accents of your capsule and add shoes and maybe a bag, scarf or necklace in that colour too.

During the summer you can vary the shape too by going for a two part shoe, slingback or ankle strap – though avoid the later if you have less than slim ankles.

Choose a heel height that’s comfortable for the whole day too. If you can’t cope with high heels choose a kitten heel or you could even wear a wedge. For a formal office I’d recommend a heel even if it’s only a small kitten heel if you can, as it looks smarter than completely flat shoes.

Capsule wardrobe shoes, Ballet pumps and flat shoes

From top left – Coral suede// Metallic // Turquoise slingback // Neutral snake // Turquoise ballet pump // Neutral heeled pump // Orange snake //

Having said that flats have been everywhere for the last couple of seasons. The ballet flat has been a classic for some time now but I think for the office they look better with trousers. If you wear them with a skirt I’d choose a pair that has a small heel (like the neutral pair above) or choose the new pointed flat which works better at lengthening the leg and looking smarter.If these are a second pair to your courts choose a colour or pattern to ring the changes.

These are great for more casual offices or for a dress down day and will cross over into your weekend wear. Wear them with jeans, chinos and casual skirts and dresses at the weekend.

Onto casual shoes:

Capsule wardrobe shoes, casual shoes

Stripe two part // Brogue // Silver wedges // Tan flat sandals // Mint trainers // Mint flats // Pink/Animal trainers // Neutral wedges //

Here are just a few examples. Have fun with your weekend shoes – almost anything goes. Trainers look good with jeans but work well with a denim or stripe breton dress too. Wear brogues with a floral dress or a pair of crop trousers. Pair high wedges with capri pants or a summer dress. Wear flat sandals and slides with shorts, dresses, coloured jeans and crops. Choose what suits you and your lifestyle and what gives you pleasure to wear.

Occasion shoes:

Capsule wardrobe shoes, occasion wear shoes

Neutral sandals // Snake print sandals // Snake diamante sandals // Gold sandals // Pewter sandals // Block heel sandals //

Your summer may have some formal events and for these you can wear your court shoes or if you have enough events and the budget you may choose a pair of occasion shoes. They could be a decorative or coloured court (like the teal suede pair in the top picture) or a pair of sandals. For a versatile capsule wardrobe, if you want to have one pair that will go with almost anything I would recommend a metallic. They look good in the summer for weddings, balls and Ascot but you can bring them out in the winter for parties over the festive season too. If you can’t wear heels don’t despair you could still have a low heeled strappy pair like the two on the right above. Just add a perfect pedicure and varnished toes.

Capsule wardrobe essential bags.

The most useful bag for work is a smart tote that fits everything you need for the day.

Capsule wardrobe accessories, choosing bags

Navy tote left // Navy tote right // Neutral Laptop tote // Red laptop tote // Tan tote bottom left // Taupe tote // Orange tote //

If you have a senior role then an investment tote should be on your list. Choose something that is classic, rather than the latest trend style, and is discreet rather than shouting it’s brand name. Look for Tod’s, Aspinal, Mulberry, YSL and Anya Hindmarch. Choose one in a neutral that you can use for all four seasons to get your best cost per wear. You can add an accent colour later.

If you carry around a laptop a specially designed feminine laptop bag would be a useful addition to your capsule wardrobe accessories. Two of the best brands for these are Knomo and Milli Millu who both make lovely bags that don’t look like a tote but have a protective sleeve for your laptop. See the second row above.

For more affordable options look at Michael Kors, DKNY, Lauren by Ralph Lauren and own brand labels like Linea from House of Fraser.

Capsule wardrobe accessories, choosing bags

Navy drawstring bag // Turquoise bag // Tan bag // 3 colour cross body bag // Taupe cross body bag // Bead clutch // Teal clutch // Bead clutch // Quilted bag //

For the weekend the options are endless and it really comes down to personal taste. Some work totes will crossover for shopping trips at the weekend. This season the drawstring bucket bag is popular or choose a neutral or coloured shoulder bags that works with your shoes and casual wardrobe pieces.

For occasions, as with shoes, a metallic or neutral coloured clutch will be your most versatile choice for both formal day and evening outfits. Once you have a neutral you can add in an accent colour like the teal one above that matches or tones with a pair of shoes.


capsule wardrobe accessories, choosing jewellery

Pear & gold bead necklace // Gold necklace // Silver & blue bead necklace // Multi strand bead necklace // Flower necklace // 3 strand cream/taupe pearls // Brown bead necklace // Cream bead & disc necklace //

Jewellery is very personal and where one person likes discreet diamonds or pearls another will opt for a chunky statement necklace. So choose what you love and use it to inject personality into your outfits. Find a special piece that becomes part of your signature look.

Here are a couple of guiding points for you though if you don’t know what to choose:

  • Think about scale. If you are petite don’t opt for a large statement piece that swamps you. Equally if you are larger scale look for larger pieces of jewellery.
  • Use a necklace or pair of earrings to draw attention to your face.
  • Choose colours for necklaces that are good for you, especially if you are wearing a top or jacket that isn’t one of your best colours.
  • Leave jangly pieces for the weekends – it’s irritating and distracting if your arm jangles when your are typing or gesturing as you speak.
  • Pearls make an outfit look more formal and you can get them in so many shade and colours now there is an option for everyone.

Places to look – brands like Jaeger and Maxmara do great costume jewellery or on a smaller budget look at Phase Eight and Marks and Spencer.


capsule wardrobe accessories, choosing scarves

Animal print scarf // Blue print scarf // Blue print silk square // Lilac/Pink scarf // Red/Turquoise scarf // Neutral/Peach scarf // Blue/Orange scarf // Peach floral scarf // Navy/red geometric print scarf //

Surprising I left these until last as those of you who know me also know I am a scarf-a-holic! From pashminas to keep out the cold to wispy silk chiffon I love a scarf. They are great for pulling outfits together if you are wearing several colours, for adding colour to a neutral outfit or for making a colour work on you, for example if you have to wear a black jacket.

A scarf can make an outfit and they don’t need to cost the earth they start from £10-15 at House of Fraser. My favourite scarf haunts are Hobbs and Jigsaw for mid price scarves but if you have a special birthday coming up or want to treat yourself to one you can love for life look at Etro and Armani Collezioni (I’ve marked my wish list one with a heart!)

As with jewellery choose a scarf to suit your scale, colouring and personality. Look for soft fabrics and swirly patterns if you are curvy and crisper fabrics and geometrics if you aren’t. And if you need some scarf tying tips and haven’t seen it before here is a favourite video with loads of ideas.

So there you have it – how to choose accessories for your capsule wardrobe. In the final post later this week it all comes together into outfits.

There is loads more information on creating the perfect capsule wardrobe in my upcoming book – sign up here to be kept up to date on release details.

If you would like a done for you capsule wardrobe you can buy online here.