Fashion: Building a Workwear Wardrobe

Disclaimer: I have a LOT of clothes. Despite sending off a total of five binbags to a charity shop over summer, selling another bag full on Ebay, and chucking more than a fair few odd socks, baggy knickers and bobbly bras, I have far too many clothes. I’ve taken over more than my fair share of the wardrobe, I have three under-bed boxes. Yet all the things I currently own do get worn.

 photo Workwear Outfits 5_zpsldfjftmh.jpgAs you might be able to tell, this isn’t about building a capsule workwear wardrobe.

Now, I work in the City. Whist I’m not expected to be in a ‘full suit’ everyday, I am expected to wear business attire, carry a jacket, look smart etc. The point of reference I tend to use is whether the guys where ties; they do in my office, so I dress smart(er) to reflect this. My usual go-to is a miss-matched suit, or a tailored dress and light-weight jacket. I also have a few floatier skirts which I tend to through on with more structured jackets, likewise I have a couple of smarter outfits for days with important meetings. I also have my go-to ‘Friday outfits’ – whilst my office doesn’t have formal dress-down Fridays, I have already noticed things do get a bit more casual for the last day of the working week.

 photo Workwear Outfits 2_zpsm49egudq.jpgThe key for me is the fit. If an item isn’t fitting right, it will never look smart, no matter how hard I try. Nothing used to bug me more at interviews, seeing guys in too-short trousers, girls in too-tight skirts. Good workwear doesn’t have to cost a fortune; I’ve had some excellent suits from ASDA & H&M over the years, and I think getting a good fit is far more important than spending a fortune on a pricey label. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since buying a good half of my workwear wardrobe, so it’s bugging me that some pieces (particularly the jackets and grey dress) are a little too big. I’m hoping to gradually replace those bits – but for now I’m finding M&S great for petite-length tailored pieces that don’t break the bank. Machine washable too is a big bonus!

 photo Workwear Outfits 1_zpsybvrfppg.jpg photo Workwear Outfits 4_zpsogvom8nx.jpgThen there’s colour. Even if I’m wearing a black/grey outfit I need some colour in there. Be it a bold lipstick (I haven’t dared postbox red in the office yet though), something from my satchel collection or more ‘out there’ shoes (I have a pair of gorgeous oxblood stillettos, slip them on once I get to my final tube leg and I’m good to go!), I can’t be all in neutrals. My go-to way of adding colour is a cardigan. I can’t go to work without one (damn you air conditioning!), and I have one in every possible shade. Duck-egg blue, navy blue, royal blue, burgundy, fuschia pink, shell pink, cream, black, grey, red, orange, mustard yellow, white…Another way to add colour (and one that I really wish I could pull off more) is jewellery*. Think chunky bracelets, bold necklaces. The perfect way to jazz up a plain shift dress!

 photo Workwear Outfits 7_zps5fwvtccv.jpg photo Workwear Outfits 8_zpsze97qcct.jpg photo Workwear Outfits 9_zpslcorsys5.jpgMore casual Fridays are what fill me with dread. I’m okay with my usual ‘uniform’ – it’s comforting having limits in place. But on Fridays things get a bit more casual. One of my go-to styles for smarter weekends has always been a shirt dress, so I decided to take this to the office too. This dress from JD Williams* is a little longer than I’d like, but cinches in nicely at the waist. It doesn’t gape (essential for work – gaping shirts are the main reason I stick to dresses!), is lightweight (a godsend over the last few weeks, the tube commute has been rather warm!), and goes well with a plain black jacket.

 photo Workwear Outfits 6_zpshkxv7wpj.jpgNow all I need is this tweed pencil skirt (serious heart-eye emoji going on, I love it!). And to stop getting W to take outfit photos at 7.15am, when I’m bleary-eyed and with only half my makeup on…

What is your workwear wardrobe like? Any inspiration for where to shop?


Fashion: Workwear Staples on Budget

I’ve been attempting to create this post for a while, but taking the photos proved impossible. Laying the clothes out looked pretty horrendous, and outfit posts were a no-go living on my own in a tiny room. I was playing around with my camera over the weekend, snapped these on the clothes inside my wardrobe, and thought they were pretty decent. I will do outfit posts at some point though – issue being these clothes don’t actually fit that well anymore!
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Invest in Staples

Whilst there are areas you can save money, there are areas you really should avoid scrimping. A cheap quality pair of shoes or handbag can instantly ruin a look. Plus, cheap shoes often hurt, low-cost bags often don’t last. I find my satchels are a great workbag (surprise surprise) – they look smart, are a little briefcase like, and go with everything.

That being said, I was recently sent a jacket* (something I would usually budget a little more from) from Less Than 10 Pounds and was really impressed with the quality. Thick material and well cut, it fits like a glove. The only issue is it attracts hair like nothing else, I have to carry a lint roller to work when wearing it!

Tailor to Fit

If your clothes don’t fit, I feel it just looks a little unprofessional. Which is why I’m really bothered at the minute as it takes multiple safety pins to tighten my skirts enough to fit – the downsides to weight loss!

Tailoring doesn’t have to cost a fortune – I regularly have to get skirts and dresses shortened, which usually costs about £4-£5 to have done professionally. I’m currently trying to learn to take the waist in on skirts made of lighter materials – I have about 14 skirts needing altering so would sooner give it a go myself!
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Save on Basics

I don’t find it necessary to spend much on on items like shirts and cardigans – most of mine are from Primark or Dorothy Perkins. I find the extra £5 or so pounds spent in Dorothy Perkins does mean they last much longer (I still have ones left over from sixth form 3/4 years ago). Cardigans are also where I inject a bit of colour and seasonality into my outfit, so it’s good for them to be cheap so I can have plenty. I think I’m close to exceeding 20 now…
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Material Matters

I find going for a tweed or mottled material on sut skirts make it look a lot more expensive that it really is. I find completely plain black/grey/cream items to look a bit boring, but my skirts all cost less than £20, fit well, have lasted, are machine washable and look great.
 photo 2015-04-12 12.31.13_zpsqnea3tbx.jpg

Make it Personal

Add colour, add bits that reflect your style. I always wear pussy-bow blouses as I find they are much more feminine. I also only wear baggier blouses (mainly as they never need ironing…).
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Hit the Sales

Shortly after I was successful in gaining a placement year, the House of Fraser in my home town shut down. I visited on the first day of the sale, and it was hell on earth. Women were physically fighting over clothes, children in prams abandoned. There was even a knife incident on one day. However four hours later (nearly two hours were spent queuing to try on as refunds weren’t available) I emerged with nearly £800 worth of clothes for £96. I picked up some amazing shift dresses (the only thing which really still fits me), jackets, and skirts. Hitting the sales means you can afford better quality and higher-end brands than you would otherwise. I also love browsing in charity shops – my vntage Dorothy Perkins pencil skirt is one of my best finds at £5!

 photo 2015-04-12 12.29.18_zpsvhq9zdvm.jpgBuilding up a workwear wardrobe is never going to be the cheapest, but doing it gradually and following some of my tips means it can be done on a budget. Keep an eye out for more workwear posts soon.

What do you wear to work? How do you recommend buying work clothes on a budget?

Beauty: Nails for the Office

Having started a professional placement recently I’ve definitely had to smarten up my appearance. I’m by no means suggesting all work places are like this, but my office is quite strict on workwear and smartness. The men wear ties, everyone is in suits, and personally I’d never show up with overly bright, sparkly or (God forbid) chipped nails.

 photo 10fa5b41-869e-49fa-89c8-fda21a656fc5_zpsac8687d8.jpgI have nothing against bright nails. In fact the shade on my toe nails right now is definitely eye-catching, and I do wear brights on my finger nails. But I don’t particularly like them against workwear, particularly mine (I wear a lot of brown-toned suits) so I’ve found myself gravitating to more neutral shades.

 photo d92452d0-e2a9-4f5c-a3fb-a75175fb1b9d_zps6902c316.jpgThe grey tones in this little collection are earmarked for the cooler weather; I bought a set of four from Primark this time last year and love them. The shades are so unique compared to anything I’ve seen, and I like the thin precise brushes. Admittedly the quality isn’t the best, it’s a little gloopy, but finished with a top coat I can get three days wear out of these. I’ve not got a full week out of any nails ever (including Shellac) so three days isn’t too shabby at all.

 photo 443ed9c1-31c8-4244-95e0-6b68055834ad_zps693e7c27.jpgHere’s my two favourites. The dark shade is Essie’s Shearling Darling – I might not like brights, but I do like dark nails! This was in their last Winter collection, though I bought the single bottle on Ebay. Essie polishes are expensive, but I love the shade range, love the brushes, and they last well without chipping. I can virtually guarantee that if I can’t find the shade I have in mind anywhere else, Essie will have it. Now the nude. This is my perfect nude! A lot are too cream or brown toned, but this is just pink enough to warm my skin tone without being pink. Pretty impressed with the formula for Collection too (it’s not a brand I hold highly in my opinions), and I can just squeeze four days wear out of this one.

 photo 7d4bbb87-20cd-4381-a0a5-e695ad8b2073_zpsdaa624f5.jpgMaybe I need a new topcoat. I’m currently relying on Barry M’s, and I do love it – but I need something a little more chip resistant. Any non Seche Vite recommendations?

What are your current favourite nail polishes?