People sometimes get in touch with me to ask about what to wear to work events, conferences and network evenings. Dressing for the office can be a bit of a head fuck and for people who just aren’t that bothered about fashion, it’s an absolute shag to navigate this mine field. When you’re stuck, the only thing you want to do is to ask someone what they would wear. Or even better – ask several people. But you don’t have to do that because I’ve done it for you. I know a number of people (yes, I do have friends), all working in a variety of industries and role and they have been asked to answer 4 questions.
- Describe a typical day to day outfit
- What would you wear if you’re doing something out of the ordinary like a big meeting, conference or event?
- Do you have any work wear challenges?
- What’s your biggest work outfit fail?
Helen: Corporate Responsibility Manager, Property
Day to day outfit: I basically have a uniform for the office that comprises of black dresses that I will wear with leopard print pumps or I have an obsession with a-line skirts – to the extent that I have same J Crew skirt in four different colours (plus 2 black). I think I have quite a preppy look for work so it will be a shirt, a-line skirt, and brogues.
Events, meetings etc: I think it’s really important to feel comfortable when you have a big meeting or presentation. If you don’t feel comfortable it shows. So for this, I never wear heels because I don’t really like them and there is really nothing worse than someone who can’t walk in heels! I will tend to wear something loose and that I can wear a blazer with so I can be a little corporate.
Challenges: I struggle sometimes for things like this as everyone just tends to wear a suit but I think that is dated and isn’t my style. I think also it’s hard for someone my age/level because I am kind of middle senior so I want to present myself well to senior staff but I also want to show my style and a bit of quirkiness at work and be relaxed – like if I don’t have meetings why can’t I wear trainers and jeans and a shirt?
Outfit fail: Loads! And I also know because I don’t feel comfortable and regret not changing! Recently I think it’s when I accidentally channelled an 80’s sloaney. I had a lovely black a-line (again) dress on and my clear tights ripped so I thought I would replace with some 8 denier black tights. But combined with the pearls, the cardigan and half pony tale, it created a whole different look!
Kate: Primary school teacher, Year 4 (9years old)
Day to day outfit: I like wearing fitted black trousers, ankle boots and a funky blouse, possibly with a print to spice things up a bit. I have one with pandas on which I love and of course, the kids love it too. In the summer I prefer cropped trousers and smart/casual top.
Sara Maria, Life Science Underwriter, Insurance
Day to day outfit: We have a dress code in the office and we’re quite corporate so usually a pencil skirt and shirt, classic dress or suit.
Events, meetings etc: I dress the same way every day as I have brokers coming in to see me unannounced so not much of a difference for me.
Challenges: I don’t really have many as my work wear is quite classic. This means that there’s a lot to choose from in stores. If anything, I’d like to get out of the habit of constantly dressing in dark colours.
Outfit fail: Once, I was wearing a dress that split in the back when I sat down at my desk. It was so bad I had to borrow my colleague’s suit jacket to go out and buy a new dress! This happened really early in the morning and not a lot of stores had opened yet so slim pickings to say the least. I ended up buying a dress I don’t like and have never worn again. But it was certainly better then walking around all days with my bum cheeks hanging out.
Kirstina: Senior HR Advisor – EMEA, Executive Search
Day to day outfit: Normally I wear a skirt with a blouse or a top and blazer/jacket. Often a lot of black. I’m wearing my Minimum blazer a lot and the Baum leopard print sweater got a lot of wear when it was colder (Author’s note: Kirstina is a very frequent customer of noordinarysuit.com). It was fine teamed with a skirt or smart black trousers.
Events, meetings etc: A dress, blazer and heels. I try and incorporate bold colours, like red and blue to feel more stylish.
Challenges: I feel I wear the same all the time and it gets boring. It’s a very corporate environment and there is a dress code we all have to comply with. I wish I could be more casual and relaxed at work.
Outfit fail: Trying to bend the rules of the dress code on a regular basis and keeping my converse on all day. Or wearing going-out tops under a jumper on Friday when we have dress-down Friday… But it’s still strict!
Chiara: Communications professional, Finance
Day to day outfit: I like a pair of smart Capri trousers (usually dark ones for fear of any stains etc showing), floaty top and brogues (my black patent brogues are a staple item of mine) for the office. I often dial up an outfit up with striking earrings, watch and nails.
Events, meetings etc: Perhaps a colourful dress, sometimes print, usually just above the knee, long sleeved and floaty. Always paired with black tights in the winter/autumn. Nothing too short or tight fitting. I like wearing heeled boots with dresses to keep the overall look smart but not OTT.
Challenges: Bare legs in the summer. The ladies in the office are divided as to whether to wear skin coloured tights or not. I personally find they look and feel awkward and uncomfortable. Whats wrong with bare legs anyway?!
Outfit fail: A white shirt I wore which turned out to be transparent and all too revealing. I found myself having to hide under a scarf I keep at work all day. The office temperature tends to vary between two extremes: very cold or freezing. (Auth note: for tips on how to overcome this issue, check out my post on The Temperature Paradox)
Suparna: Leadership Coach, Own business
Day to day outfit: I can wear whatever I like when it’s just me in the office and I have no meetings so jeans and a top works fine. When I meet clients in the winter, it tends to be trousers and a silk blouse plus a cardigan or blazer. (Sometimes pencil skirts and tights). In the summer I’m a dress person andMy favourite is the beautiful Baum dress I bought from noordinarysuit.com (auth. note: Suparna is also an NOS customer). Love structured dresses, I have quite a few red ones. They are so easy to wear, comfortable, make me feel sexy and professional.
Events, meetings etc: Same again, I tend to go for the structured dress. As I’m dressing up a bit when I see clients I do the same in similar style when there are events I’m either attending or hosting.
Thank you to my amazing crew of brilliant and inspirational women! I love hearing what other people wear, what they like, what they don’t like and what their challenges are. Big big thanks ladies! x