Building a Work Wardrobe

Career goals and whatnot aside, one of the things I was most excited about moving to London and starting a full time job was getting that dream work wardrobe. Every rom com movie of my childhood featured women working for magazines or events companies, getting to strut around the city in Louboutin’s with a gorgeous dress and flawless makeup. What ambitious child would not want that!

But realistically it’s a lot harder in practise to curate that perfect selection, especially when trying to shop like a city girl on a non-existent budget. So if you’re in a similar situation or just fancy being nosy, I hope you enjoy my tips and walk-through of my wardrobe (wish that said walk-in wardrobe but a girl can dream…)

I think one of the first major dilemmas is how to navigate that smart casual minefield. I recently asked before an interview what the office dress code was as I didn’t want to appear completely overdressed and not fit in to the office vibe, or much worse, underdressed if they all were wearing suits. ‘The smarter side of smart casual’ was my reply, but that’s even more vague than when Robbie said ‘See you later’ to Georgia in the educational movie Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

When I think of smart casual I try and keep to the following rules:

  • Nothing remotely see through
  • If a strong wind blows or I have to bend down will I be forever mortified
  • Never grey or any other sweat showing colour, because have you been on the central line?!?
  • Nothing tight enough that will show my post lunch food baby
  • No jeans

Dresses are what I believe are going to form the basis of my working wardrobe pretty much all year round. Knee length skater dresses or shift dresses in the Summer and knitted with tights in the winter. Dresses are easier to style for multiple occasions, especially in block colours which are undoubtedly the chameleons of the office wardrobe. I have three beautiful dresses that are forming the foundations of my collection and somehow they have all ended up being navy. By picking a neutral, block colour I can easily style it with different bags and accessories to disguise the fact I’ll be wearing the same three dresses on rotation for a while.

I’m also really enjoying Pinterest right now to collate ideas of how I want my wardrobe colour palette to be and it’s a great place to find inspiration for outfits! (You can check out my board here!) A pleated midi skirt is currently top of my work wish list, paired with a blouse or even a t-shirt, then a jumper in the winter months for a more casual environment. I think it is such a versatile piece that I would never considered could be workwear had I not seen it on Pinterest. This way, I also have an already curated collection of items to browse when that paycheque comes in and I want to expand my collection.

Whilst the branding of your clothes is completely irrelevant in the office, having pieces of quality is especially important as you’ll be wearing and washing them constantly. Having pieces that are easy to both wash and iron has been a careful consideration when planning my wardrobe as I definitely don’t want to be stuck on my days off spending hours handwashing my clothes, or worse, having to pay to get them dry cleaned. Checking out sites such as Brand Alley mean you can browse the high-end highstreet labels such as Reiss and Hobbs for a fraction of the price!

As for shoes and accessories? I think simplicity here is key. I have two pairs of chunky heeled sandals, one in black and one in cream and have already picked out my dream black work bag from Michael Kors. Black and either nude or cream will match any outfit and as long as they are comfortable, will see you through most of the year. When we get closer to winter I’ll be looking for a pair of good quality black heeled boots and a black coat as by keeping to black I know that it will match any outfit. This makes it so much easier to part with a larger sum of money for these items, knowing I’m getting good quality and will get so much wear out of them.

So I guess the message is one of basics. Basics are key, especially in the workplace! Whilst some may remind me that I’m going to work and not a fashion show, I think that even in an office setting you can tell a lot about a person from their outfit. By that I don’t mean the labels or price tag, but how they carry themselves and wear their clothes with pride. I have always thought I perform best when I am feeling put together and organised and my wardrobe has a big part to play in that.

PS. As you can probably tell, the photo with this post is not my own although I wish that was my wardrobe. On my previous blog the thought of using stock photos would horrify me, however right now I am sharing a tiny wardrobe with my boyfriend and there’s absolutely not a hope I’ll be taking a nice photo of that to share on the internet. I’d much rather put out a quality of writing I am happy with and want to share than spend hours agonising over how bad the camera is on my iPhone 6 which I’m using to replace my stolen phone so for now, a stock photo it is. Although don’t think I haven’t spent about an hour already trying to find the perfect one…

How I'm building my work wardrobe; pinnable graphic!

6 thoughts on “Building a Work Wardrobe

  1. This is a truly touching post to me. I recently started working at an elementary school with a college girl wardrobe and had to figure it out in a week. It was difficult! Your smart casual rules will definitely be on my phone while I go back to school shopping this year. Thanks so much for the help girl!

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