The 5 KEY Items for a Smart/Casual Work Wardrobe

I recently did a Facebook live video on the five items I recommend to build a smart/casual work wardrobe. The Facebook Live videos I do are LIVE so there’s no chance to edit or spruce them up - I talk ‘off the cuff’ so it’s very authentic and a bit raw, keeping it real and all that! Brilliantly (and not due to it’s slick production!) the video has a great response and I’ve decided to turn it into a blog post with links to the items I suggested in the video.


Do you struggle to identify the actual pieces to buy each season and where you should be spending your money? Or perhaps you struggle to pull outfits together because you don’t have the right items despite having tons of clothes in your wardrobe? That is what I’m trying to address in the video - to break it down for you. You CAN WATCH THE VIDEO HERE - I am really focussing on the CORE items needed to pull the rest of your wardrobe together - the ‘wardrobe essentials’ that will help you achieve a capsule work wardrobe and help hugely with pulling outfits together.


THE hot trouser shape of the season (spring/summer ‘19). So many people say to me they don’t think this shape suits them but they are incredibly flattering on loads of different body shapes. Column, pear, hourglass and apple can all wear this cut. If you have a bit of a tummy then a side zip is always a better option because it doesn’t add bulk to the tummy area.

If you are short and don’t think these are for you think again! I advise tucking your top-in to elongate your legs. A good tip would be to make sure the trousers aren’t too voluminous at the top because then they’ll drown your small frame. Here is a good example of flatter front trousers - these are also cropped which works well on most people too, a nice bit of ankle showing is elegant and again if you’re short it works well because you are not covered and hidden in swathes of material:

Here’s an example of wide legged trousers that are more voluminous with pleating detail on the top half. I wouldn’t recommend these for shorter people but they are great for tall ladies! - very Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Also these are super high waisted - another thing to avoid if you are shorter:

These are the trousers I am wearing in my Facebook Live video, also from whistles. They are great for summer because they are nice light cotton.


I often get people saying to me these skirts make their hips look wide or their tummy too big. If you you feel like that then go for a knife pleat version - the tighter, more angular pleat is more forgiving. The ombre skirt from Reiss in my video is sold out in every size except size 10 (low stock) LINK HERE. They now do a different ombre version which is also gorgeous! I like tops tucked in to pleated skirts but you could wear a short loose silk vest top or blouse with this too if you feel self conscious tucking in.


Now we’re really getting back to basics. The most useful items you can stock your wardrobe with are a plain light and a plain dark silk blouse (number 4 below). By adding these simple items to your wardrobe you will increase your outfit options tenfold. These mean you can wear patterned trousers or skirts on your bottom half with ease! I suggest silk because it looks really polished and smart.

Now onto the colour to choose - it’s about knowing the undertone colour of your skin so you can wear the most flattering colours. If you have warm/yellow undertones in your skin then you need cream or ivory, if you have cool/blue undertones then you need white. This is something I cover with my clients when doing my wardrobe edit service. I analyse using a series of colour drapes to determine if they are cool or warm and which season of colours suits them the best. It’s hugely useful information to be armed with as it cuts down choice when shopping!


As explained above, this kind of item makes it easier to build outfits in your wardrobe and really is a staple. Navy suits everyone and is less harsh than black on older skin tones. I still find black tops one of the most useful items in my wardrobe, especially for evenings, so would add that and possibly a grey one too! Then you’ve covered all bases.


An absolute stone cold essential and there are so many out there to choose from. The blazer below is the one in my video - my husband kindly bought me this as a mother’s day gift and I love it! If you’ve got a blazer on then you instantly look ‘upgraded’, smart, polished and like you’ve made an effort. If you’re a really relaxed dresser and don’t like the structure of a blazer then go for something unstructured. Anine Bing does good unstructured options - I got a brilliant one with my client on a personal shopping trip last week - she is one of the most casual dressers I’ve ever worked with but she looked and felt great in a more relaxed version:

Lisa Gillbe is a personal stylist and image consultant based in London, UK. Get in touch with any enquiries about her styling services and personal shopping packages here.