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.
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.
The 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!
Then 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!
More 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.
Now 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?