Helena Balls: Why we started No Ordinary Suit

Nothing beats a good pencil skirt

I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a lot of jobs. Actually, loads more full time positions than I would like to admit. I’ve done everything from selling knock off perfumes to people on the street to having had quite serious sales jobs and commercial roles. The spectrum of companies I’ve worked at as well range from very creative to insanely corporate. Every single place I have ever worked had their own dress code. Some were followed and some weren’t but it was always there. I sometimes like a dress code, if it’s crystal clear. If it isn’t, it’s an absolute nightmare!

The problem

I was never a suit or a dress code person. I hate dressing like a man and it pisses me off that it’s so damn easy for them. Chuck on a  suit a shirt and a tie and you’re good to go, no one cares. I know that’s probably not true but that’s how it feels.  But then again, if you want to be more feminine, you go for the “secretary look” but I’m not one. It’s a damn sexy look but it’s not me.

The best times was working in places where you could wear whatever you wanted to. But you’d still run into problems when you had corporate meetings as you’d wear ripped jeans and a t-shirt in the office. Not appropriate when meeting the head of whatever at Deutsche Bank or some massive and terrifying law firm.

And then there was the absolute shag of trying to find the clothes that bridged the gap between coming to work in your pyjamas and showing up in a corporate 2 piece. I spend all day in front of my lap top. And I’m sorry but even though I love shopping, I’m not spending my evenings as well in front of my screen trying to shop for clothes to wear to work. No thanks.

What we did about it

I really felt there was a need for an online shop where you could buy clothes to wear to work easily and quickly without having to resort to the usual suspects. Think H&M, Top Shop, Zara and Mango but also Hugo Boss, Paul Smith and the more expensive ones.

Scandinavia, probably Sweden

Having worked in fashion for a while (ahem – for 3 different companies in that while, true to my job hopping) I was looking after our Scandinavian clients and got to know them pretty well. So when I thought of what kind of stuff I thought we should stock in our new online store, I turned to them. And their designs worked really well. They are all down to earth, sweet, talented and just really bloody nice. I also found out something else. When you’re a small business, working with other small businesses is much better than dealing with the giants. To them, you’re nothing but a drop in the ocean of other resellers. So that was a winner!

What next?

This is Scampi. We borrow him sometimes as we love him lots and currently don’t have our own dog.

Here’s what we want to do with noordinarysuit.com:

  1. To provide women in the UK (and elsewhere) with a really simple platform to visit to top up their wardrobe. We focus on items that work at work (ha, see what we did?) as well as on your date after office hours. We’re looking for items with some sort of a difference be it a cut, a fabric, a colour hue or a detail.
  2. To give some amazing small labels from Scandinavia (and soon also some from the UK) some attention and spred the word about the amazing designs and quality fashion they produce. We don’t all have to shop at the same places, we just need to know where to find the gems. They are out there, I promise!
  3. To stay independent. We’re not aspiring to be the next ASOS, we’re a family & friends run business and we’d
    like to keep it that way.
  4. To give workwear advice whenever asked for it. We not only have me, a serial job hopper with tons of experience in office wear. We also have a professional stylist onboard. She’s here to help our customers put together outfits, help them make the most of what they have and get them super organised to enjoy fashion more.
  5. To get an office dog because we think life is a lot better with animals around!


And another thing:

Injustices makes us pretty damn pissed off. We believe in equal rights and that everyone should have a voice. Therefore, we decided that from day one, we wanted to be part of something bigger than ourselves. £1 from each item sold on noordinarysuit.com goes to Womankind, a charity working tirelessly towards a better and fairer existence for women and girls all over the world.

We hope you love our designers as much as we do. We always want to hear what people think and what kind of fashion you would like to see more of. We are also constantly on the look out for collaborations, contributors and new designers so please don’t be shy. We can be reached on support@noordinarysuit.com.