How to Build a Work Capsule Wardrobe (Petite-Friendly)

workwear capsule wardrobe

I loved working on my smart casual wardrobe post, and have been referring back to it often for fail-proof outfit combos! I got several requests for a workwear version and what pieces to look for when just starting out. The pieces for me are pretty similar, but I made a few updates from last time to suit a business casual dress code.

Below are a few of my most-worn item types from over the years that mix and match really well. I made sure to include affordable and also some premium options for different budgets.

PS – our popular Edited Pieces reversible belts will be restocking (and a mini is coming very soon), so be sure to sign up for email notifications!

petite business casual capsule wardrobe
Under $100 clothing rack


After finding the most flattering cuts that work for you, I’d start with the colors black, tan, and a lighter beige or cream (my most worn pant color, actually). If you prefer cooler tones, try grey and navy instead of brown tones. If your office is more smart casual, then you can simply do similar colors in denim.

For me, cropped slim ankle pants used to be my practical default. For a slightly updated look and looser fit, the J.Crew straight or Theory pants linked below are awesome options that also work well with flats!

  • Wide leg trousersAbercrombie pants. These are gorgeous in crepe.
  • Slim ankle pants – For no alterations needed on petites, I love the J.Crew Cameron and WHBM Comfort Stretch. I’m also a fan of these viral Zara pants – note: very high rise and I hemmed them.
  • Straight leg pantsJ.Crew Kate pants are an updated classic.
  • Premium pickTheory pull on crepe pants. These are so good! They hit below my ankles, and fit me similar to the J.Crew Kate but with a half elastic waistband and a lighter weight, drapey crepe. Note, these in 00 fits looser everywhere than J.Crew Cameron in 00P.


  • Tailored Lightweight Wool blazerJ.Crew (on sale!) in petites and camel, black, navy
  • Relaxed Fit blazerAbercrombie, in petites and 5+ colors
  • Sweater blazerJ.Crew (oversized) and J.Crew Factory (petite sizing and closer fit)
  • Black + Cream sweater jacketExpress. Love this one so much! XS is a little long in the sleeves but doesn’t bother me.
  • Trench coatJ.Crew and J.Crew Factory for a shorter trench in petites. The Drop for a long lightweight trench pictured above (but hemming needed on petites)
  • Premium Pick – Theory blazers, such as their open blazer which has a shrunken, petite-friendly fit. I just need to fold the sleeves under an inch or two but you can’t really tell (or, get it shortened).


Ribbed fitted tops in black and cream are some of my most worn basics. To build your tops collection, I also love blouses with a nice fluid drape, but also some with structure i.e. a little more “crisp” button up shirt. All of these tops are versatile for wearing with denim and other bottoms outside of work, too!



  • Reversible belts – our Edited Pieces belts were designed to be super versatile!
  • Neutral toteNaghedi, would recommend the Medium size for work.
  • Black tote bagH&M, great value for under $40 with a zipper
  • Premium PickGoyard bag to add print to solid outfits. Used this as my work tote for years! See my review & comparison post of their styles.
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  1. Yuanna wrote:

    I love your posts! Very classic pieces that will become staples in anyone’s wardrobe. Can you tell me when you will be restocking the Edited Pieces reversible belt in the white color? I love my black/cognac one now. Thank you.

    Posted 3.25.23 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you Yuanna, I’m so glad to hear that you’re loving the black / cognac colorway! We’ll be restocking the taupe/ecru colorway in May! If you aren’t already signed up for restock email notifications on the Edited Pieces site, I highly recommend it xx

      Posted 3.27.23 Reply
  2. Courtney Hastings wrote:

    I discovered this post when trying to rebuild my work wardrobe and it has been so helpful! Would you share how you style your Everlane button up shirts?

    Posted 3.11.23 Reply
  3. Magdalene wrote:

    Love these options for a capsule wardrobe. I am more a dress girl anytime, anyday

    Posted 2.24.23 Reply
  4. Caitlin Foos wrote:

    Hi Jean! I can’t tell you how helpful this post was! I’m a long-time follower, and whenever I order anything you recommend, I rarely have to return it. I’m in the process of rebuilding my professional wardrobe and my favorite recent find has been the wide-leg trousers from Abercrombie, thanks to your posts. I appreciate all you do for us petite ladies!

    Posted 2.18.23 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Hi Caitlin, I’m so glad you found this helpful! I really appreciate you following along and for taking the time to leave such an encouraging note xx

      Posted 2.21.23 Reply
  5. Marianne Brown wrote:

    Great picks. I would love to find loafers with a one to two inch heel. The Linnie is great but I want some height.

    Posted 2.17.23 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      I’m on the same search as well! Tried Franco Sartos and a Sam Edelman platform version but they were a little painful so am still on the lookout

      Posted 2.21.23 Reply
  6. Sophie C wrote:

    I’ve been a longtime fan and love when you do posts like these – SO helpful to have links to apparel that’s currently available 🙂

    This might be a better question around the time of the Nordy’s sale, but what are your opinions on Ralph Lauren trench coats? My taste has been informed by your guidance for so long that I’d love to know your thoughts! Thanks for all the hard work Jean <3

    Posted 2.16.23 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      Thank you, Sophie! The quality is solid, but they don’t make a wide range of sizing so I think sizes start in xs / 2 petite. My mom has one from the Nordy’s sale a few years back and it’s a classic piece if the sizing works for you.

      Posted 2.21.23 Reply
  7. Mariam Khan wrote:

    This is amazing! Can you do one for casual wear too??

    Posted 2.16.23 Reply
    • Jean | Extra Petite wrote:

      I wear mostly smart casual, but I’ll keep your request in mind for more casual wear!

      Posted 2.21.23 Reply

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