Thursday, 17 October 2013

Working Wardrobe - Time for the Girls!

A couple of days ago I looked at these office-wear rules 
suggested by a Law firm for their new intake

Now the fun bit....time for us girls! 

I'm not pitching myself as any kind of expert here, of course not. But, I have learned from years of my own hit&miss attempts. Plus, in another incarnation, I dressed women for all kinds of work, so I do have more than a little experience.

I don't like to use the word 'rules' because (and please take note big businesses) unless they are required for some practical reason, I believe restrictive dress-codes are counterproductive....I have witnessed it!

So, here are my guidelines. 

1) Stick to the rules & be sensible

I'm all for pushing it to the max, but if there are very specific rules you need to stick to them.

Maybe, like Anna (aka MissJersey) you have to stick to infection control rules or you have to wear shoes with closed toes, for safety. Those are the kind of rules it would be downright stupid to break, enough said.

Equally, if your office has rules as to what you can and can't wear, no matter how stupid you think they are, stick to them. If you don't, you will be disliked. Co-workers will think 'how come she gets away with it, and I can't' and your bosses will dislike you for wasting their time having to correct you.

2) No sheer, backless or cut outs.

All far too sexy for the office - you want to be respected right?
Similarly, treat Lace with caution.

3) Beware of gaping & cleavage.

The cleavage thing is obvious isn't it? The law firm's guidelines say 'no more than one inch cleavage'. I think that'd be a bit to hard check (images of girls with rulers down their tops), but it's not a bad guideline.

But, just as bad as in-your-face cleavage, is a gaping shirt.

An office I used to work in insisted on my team wearing shirts with collars. This rule was clearly written by men. We girls know that our shirts don't fit by collar size. If you have anything over a B cup it's almost impossible to find a well fitting shirt that doesn't gape (if you know of one please recommend!). A gaping shirt, with a greying bra jumping out in your face looks terrible, and hugely unprofessional.

So, unless you can be 100% sure it's gape-proof, stick to pull on or side fastening shirts.

Similarly, beware of over-stretching at the front, that looks awful too.

4) No trainers (sneakers) & No party heels

If you're sprinting from the station to the office on a daily basis then I could forgive a trainer for commuting purposes. But in the office, unless you have an injury, it's a NO NO NO.

Flip-flops (thongs) the same.

Equally, the office is no place for party heels. They are both impractical and look absurd. 
After much practice I have devised the following rule: If you can't run in your heels from platform 5 to platform 1 at Preston station, to catch the last train home after post-work drinks, then the shoes are a no go! (insert your own local station as applicable)

5) No animal print underwear

And into that bracket you can also pop red bras, spotty print bras, and all manner or patterned hosiery.
It's ok if these babies stay wrapped up safe underneath opaque clothing, but it only takes one peak out beyond a seam, to cause all manner of's not classy. Save them for the weekend.

I don't have to say anything about push-up bras do I? 

6) Save cute for the weekend.

This may be a controversial one. I love the trend for animals and ditsy prints, but in the office I want to be seen as skilled, not cute. Please don't misunderstand, i'm not against prints. At the minute i'm in love with graphic prints. But avoid anything verging on the cute side. 
You have to be careful of the cut of a dress too. If it looks like your daughter or your 5 year old niece has a mini-version in her wardrobe then best avoid.

This is a very tricky one to set a guideline for. I guess you just have to think, 'do I look smart, or cute?'

7) Yes to Nude Patent Shoes

I actually pinched this one from the Lawyer's Rules, but it's worth pinching because it works. If you have bare legs and nude shoes, not only will you look very classy, but your legs will look longer, fact. Unfortunately my nude patent shoes break every bit of rule #4, so I best hunt for some lower ones!
The same works for black patent heels and that winter staple, opaque black tights. Actually they don't even need to be patent.
It's a good trick, you should try it!

8) Jewellery is your friend

Jewellery is a brilliant way of showing your individuality & personality in the office, to make you stand out from the crowd and make those office-wardrobe staples stretch that bit further. You don't have to spend a fortune because there's so much amazing Jewellery out there. Plus it's an excellent way to show your love for the hand-made industry, with people creating some amazing things with surprisingly low price-tags.  
So long as it's not head to toe body piercings, joined up by studded chains, that could be a little *cough* distracting for your colleagues. 

9) Don't be the girl in black.

Black is a wonderful thing in your wardrobe. Everyone should have those office wardrobe staples - a well cut black suit, a good quality black workbag, work-horse black shoes and a warm black overcoat....for those times when you want to look super-smart. 
But try not to fall back on it one too many times and become the office 'girl in black'. And I'm not just talking about the colour black either, I'm talking about the colour boring. Try not to fall into the routine of wearing the same set of outfits on repeat, and blending into the background.
Alongside those seasonal staples, try to pick pieces with personality - a top with a funky pattern, an unusual pair or earrings, trousers with a graphic print - so you can still be yourself and show your quirky side.

It's all about not blending into the background and letting your personality shine through.

So, those are my guidelines
Not to be taken too seriously - since, at the end of the day, rules are made to be broken!
The office world would be a very boring place if we stuck rigidly to every one of these.
But they're a point of guidance if you don't know where to start or want a little office-overhaul. 

Tomorrow, I'm going to take all this and show you my dream capsule work-wardrobe for this fall.
In the meantime.....

I'd love to know...what are your work-wear rules?

p.s. Big thanks to Anna @MissJersey & Katie @cakevscales for answering my Twitter questions on working wardrobes - thanks girls! x


  1. I have loved this post and the previous one. I am still looking for the perfect pair of nude heels because I believe every woman should own at least one pair of nude heels.
    Where I work I am allowed to wear jeans everyday so my working wardrope is very easy, I tend to wear a pair of heels and a blouse and jacket every day just to smarten it up a little :)

  2. I love this post - quick, strait forward and exactly right. Thanks for the easy to follow guidelines!

    In regards to number 3, my business partner and I invented a fantastic solution - PINX. They're by Just Between the Girls, and they work perfectly! They are a pin which fits between the buttons, and completely prevents gaping, but still allow me to wear fitted shirts that flatter my figure. You can find them at or on Amazon.


I love to hear from you so please comment away. I'll try to reply as much as possible.
Vous pouvez laisser vos commentaires sur mes posts en Francais. Sil vous plait corriger mes erreurs, mais souyez gentils, parce que je ne cherche.

Sarah x

(No Nasty comments or Spam please. They will, of course, be removed.)