Workwear can be such a minefield to navigate, potentially literally, depending on your industry. The guild of vampire hunters’ code requires a full length leather trench, but while it’s common in the league of hackers, it’s typically not strictly required except in formal situations. But there are some pieces that are just classics that every woman needs because they’re so versatile and will go with you through years of roundhouse kicking henchmen in the face and rappelling down freight elevator shafts.
Of course, high quality basics can be pricey, and it’s often difficult to tell when it’s worth gambling for something to hit the sale rack. Unless of course, the sale is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! If you haven’t shopped it before, Nordstrom puts out new fall and winter merchandise at a discount during the summer, so you have a chance to stock up on things when they’re fresh! This year the sale runs from July 28th through August 9th for the general public (Nordstrom cardholders can start shopping earlier).
There is an OVERWHELMING amount of items though, so I’ve rounded up some pieces that I think would work excellently together in a universally chic capsule wardrobe!
Combat boots! An absolute must-have and the foundation of every good outfit. You can never go wrong with a pair of Doc Martens, but if you’re looking to switch it up a little, consider an option in white, a tall length (great with leggings!), or a boot with some extra hardware. Because we all know the more buckles and zips a boot has, the more effective it is at supporting you. More boot, more better.
All of that comes together in this trio of boots. A variety of color values will not only keep you from getting bored of a small collection, but a white option is chic and practical if you ever get an assignment that takes you to a mountaintop lair in the arctic circle.
Tip: Look for lugged soles! When things heat up you do not want to slip on the shed blood of your enemies, and concrete especially can get slick.
How does one stand out in a sea of black leather trenches? Despite the seeming restrictiveness of the age-old dress code, subtle details in design can still give your outfit some individual flair.
This piece from Halogen caught my eye, because while it’s not marketed as a jacket, the full button-down shirtdress can do double duty as a longline coat. The lightly bloused sleeves give it a hint of old world elegance while the otherwise minimal design says no-nonsense.
If you’re just looking for a classic option, the double-breasted trench from Bardot stands out as a beautifully tailored option, with a smaller collar that won’t get in the way of any of those bulkier bags of tech or explosives that sometimes you just have to schlep around during some assignments. An investment piece that is truly worth it!
When working with such a limited palette, curate your tops to include a variety of necklines and fabrics. Leather is always a great option because finer details in matte black often don’t read clearly until you’re at point-blank distance, and what’s the point if looking sharp if people can’t appreciate it from at least a standard hallway’s length? Even so, a few rib-knit options can still serve you well for both layering and as a simpler base when you want accessories to really pop.
The standout for me here was the cutout mockneck top from Halogen. The asymmetrical cutout has been trending, but this piece will still be timeless because of its otherwise classic sleek silhouette. I usually advise people to not worry if something is trendy or not as long as they love it, but if you are concerned about not looking like an outdated fashion plate, going for an item with just one trend element (color, silhouette, print, fabric, embellishment…) is a solid option because it’s more easily integrated into looks several years down the line without screaming that it was from FW21.
Another cute option from Halogen was the mock neck tee. It also comes in a y2k lime green, so if you’re looking to add a bit of color to your wardrobe, that would be a cool throwback to the time when the modern workplace fashion really blossomed.
I am absolutely obsessed with all the details on the pants selection this year. Subtle pleats, extra seams, and contrasting pockets are exactly the sort of detail that can elevate an outfit from keyboard warrior to ninja warrior.
When dealing with a small wardrobe, especially when you only have one type of outerwear, having too many types of pants and skirt silhouette can be frustrating because only a fraction of them will play well when layered. For our standard calf-length coats and sturdy but fitted ankle boots, I like to stick to slightly cropped relaxed-fit pants and fitted skirts.
While the amount of crop that’s desirable will fluctuate with trends, having the hem off the ground is is important for mobility and easy access to any lockpicks you’ve stashed in your shoe.
With a capsule wardrobe, changing up accessories can freshen things up with a small trendy element, or elevate an outfit with luxe details. Currently it doesn’t seem like Nordstrom’s put out anything too adventurous, but I scoured the site and found a few pieces that I think would be a good foundation for accessories in any closet.
This punched leather belt not only has an interesting subtle texture, but the full length adjustment means that in a pinch you can repurpose it to sling equipment, scale a pillar, or restrain any … inconveniences.
A leather harness is a great way to add depth to a basic outfit. While you may not be able to attach much gear to this one, the sleek profile will fit under jackets and not disrupt a skintight silhouette if you’re going for the timeless catsuit look.
There’s been some debate recently as to whether gold bling should be allowed into more dress codes. While there’s nothing wrong with a warmer look, my personal preference will always be silver just because of the practicality. You’re not going to disintegrate any werewolves or vampires in a pinch with rose gold earring spikes, no matter how cute they are.
Of course, shopping is just the first step. Styling the outfits is the fun part! There are dozens more looks that you can create from the pieces above as every item can work with most of the other pieces, but here are a few combos to demonstrate how versatile these items are. Every look is sleek, suitably kickass, and has depth. You’re no background NPC, so why dress like one?
Let me know in the comments below what you’ve got your eye on for this year’s NSale! 👀