“Office appropriate” are words that strike fear into my heart. How can you put together an appropriate work outfit without losing all of your style/femininity?
It’s easy for men, they can throw on a suit and it instantly transforms the plainest guy into a handsome one! The ladies however don’t have amazing alternatives.
Looking around Dublin on a week day you see some girls who take the conservative route and wear unflattering wide black pants, black top, plain black shoes….or a sombre suit with plain shoes. Others opt for the “sexy secretary” look and wear really high heels, see through blouses and tight/short skirts.
No disrespect intended to these ladies I discovered girls dress this way because we are given two alternatives in shops …see below!
I recently had to buy some new office appropriate clothing and having not done so in several years it was a shock to me. I thought it would be easy to find some nice office wear and began my search in earnest.
It would’ve been easier find my way into Mordor than to find something that was both appropriate, reasonably priced and stylish!!
First stop Penneys…gahhhhhhh. All the blouses were see through and the basics looked really rough shirts with threads hanging off etc. I already know they have the world’s most unflattering black trousers so I didn’t look any further.
Then to Zara , I thought surely I will find something here maybe shoes if not clothes. But Zara had final reductions on sale and very little new stock.
They had some nice blazers but I already had picked up a H & M grey blazer for €5 in the charity shop. I spied what looked like the perfect navy shift dress, good length, on sale etc. I picked it up and realised it had a plunging neckline..almost down to the navel! Sob.
Even my charity shops were letting me down as I didn’t want to buy too many odd pieces that didn’t match.
Eventually I spotted a navy and white Next dress for €8.50 and grabbed it like a drowning man grabs a life buoy! I decided to wear this on Monday with a white pointelle cardigan from Penneys.
Feeling frustrated I then went to Dorothy Perkins. It’s not somewhere I normally shop but I was desperate. Et voila work clothes on sale!
I finally found a nice dress just beyond the knee. It had hearts on the top but at this stage I didn’t care and bought it. In my role this is fine BUT if you work with a lot of men or in a very senior position avoid hearts, flowers and kittens! Easier said than done in fact 😛
It’s nice to be feminine and sexy but it’s very important to be taken seriously at work.It was €30 on sale from €45 which I thought was reasonable. I also tried on trousers from the petite range but this is a “true” petite range i.e. they were too short for me and I am 5’4ish. I would recommend this range for petite girls however.
Next also do good petite sizes in office wear but their sizes are slightly bigger sizes than DP. Next have some really nice office wear available and good quality also but I didn’t have the money to buy there. I wore my dress with a black cardigan and a black blazer…Tuesday outfit!
This dress is a good length and has a sewn in camisole inside.
I then tried H & M also where I managed to find slightly cute shirts! There are so many lovely shirts for guys but very little for girls. I really like H & M’s clothing but had never noticed their formal wear before. I picked up a pale pink shirt for €14.95 with white cuffs and collar. I also bought it in grey as I liked it so much.I paired this with a black pencil skirt I already had.
I’ve found vintage shops are great for colourful blouses and shirts that can be incorporated into a working wardrobe. My favourite one has to be this paisley blouse from Lyon Loring for €26.
I was pleasantly surprised to find some nice office clothes in New Look and bought a plain white shirt which I layered under a textured black shift dress with gold trim for my Wednesday outfit. I saw some nice dresses and skirts here but was disappointed with a blue shift dress I tried on. It seemed to be my size(10) but didn’t sit right over my hips and lower body and looked weird!
I had enough at that point so my Thursday outfit was one I already owned, a green fitted dress with zip details from Next and my H & M blazer.
For those of you who have a “casual Friday” option here are some ideas I found on Pinterest. Dark jeans, a patterned trousers or shirts, knitwear and casual jackets are great for casual Friday. A little colour is nice also especially if you wear black, white, navy etc. during the week!
Please note: I do not own these images.
I have been wearing brogues to work ( I used to wear heels but I’ve been cured of this foolishness..) as I feel they are a smarter alternative to pumps and more comfy than heels. Masculine tailoring is really trendy this spring and they are a great choice for work!
It is never ok to wear runners with office clothing even if you are walking/running/cycling to work: brogues are the way to go ladies! Shoes are one way you can express your personality in an office 😉
Office shoe choices: l-r Dunnes black and gold pumps, Asos brogues and Stradivarius ballet pumps.
Handbags for the office!
Alternating between business like satchel and tote bag with room for everything!
And I finally bought myself a decent watch in Urban Outfitters
This is an amazing watch! Wanted it for ages! Real leather and quirky face: perfect for a little self-expression at work. 😉 My work jewellery is pretty muted but this adds a little colour!
I was completely exhausted by the time I finished shopping for my work clothes. I felt a bit frustrated with the choices aimed at female shoppers. I also think we need more office clothes for different body types…I love tailoring and smart clothes but I like to still be creative and a little glam also.
What do you think? Where do you buy formal/work clothes? I’d love to hear your opinions!
P.S. I finally got my Romwe birth of Venus jumper (see below) and I’m loving it! It’s a baggy fit, really nice with jeans. Thanks for dropping by and hope you enjoyed the post.