I'm not sure I've cracked it yet, but here is a rough draft of what I think a great working mommy capsule would look like:
Pink has been big news in the fashion scene this fall, and it's such a wonderful color but not as versatile as it could be (pink for evening? please.). Still, a good capsule wardrobe starts with a strong color palette, and if you choose a couple of good pink pieces and balance it with grey and black, you're on to a winner.
Starting with the basics, you need a good jacket in a perfect cut (for me the three-button hacking jacket is very flattering), in a color that can be paired with your skirts or trousers. You need fewer bottoms than you think you do, probably two versatile skirts (if you have an hourglass figure like me, dirndl and pencil shapes will take you a long way), two good trousers (here I chose long, slim black and a cropped pant in cabernet), as well as the perfect pair of jeans. You definitely need a simple, perfect dress: I love this little black lace knee-length number, which can do evening, cocktail or funeral all in one tidy package.
You'll want winter knitwear: a colorful cardigan (this one is part of a twinset, which I love), a pullover in a juicy color, maybe a neutral hoodie (this one is in cashmere; what's not to like?). For fun I also threw in this sweatshirt top with an embellished collar, very fashiony this season and can be dressed up with the skirts, or down with the jeans.
For tops you have to have a perfect white shirt: I love this one with the secretary bow and black piping, more dressy than a standard button-down. Two t-shirts (I chose the black with ballet neckline because it is fancy, and this baroque patterned one which will provide more layering options). The cabernet 3/4 sleeve top is in silk, which again makes it more appropriate for work, but could be layered with the white blouse or under the hoodie for a more casual situation. The patterned silk shell is another one of those tops that can be layered in a lot of different looks, adding a bit more oomph to a basic outfit (say, over the blouse, on top of the black trousers? Alone with the black skirt? Under the cardigan?).
Of course there's jewelry to spice it all up, and the shoes, the shoes! For work I'm bringing black pumps, pointy-toe flats and a pair of tall boots. Could the flats be pink? Absolutely. Leopard might be more fun.
I'm not sure this is all right, but a top-sixteen capsule wardrobe is something I've been trying to work out for a while so I'd love to hear what you think. Where am I going right? Where am I going wrong? What are your favorite pieces to have in a small wardrobe? Do tell.
(all clothes j. crew)