I started a new job in January. And although I feel pretty comfortable with the way my style has evolved over the last couple of years this job is going to require me to smarten up my style somewhat. The simple fact that I’ll be out visiting clients way more often means I need to have more options in my wardrobe that will work for meetings, sales pitches and for presenting on stage. Stan smiths and skinny jeans can’t be my go to any more…
If you’re anything like me though you’ll hate the corporate look. I haven’t worn a suit since I was in my early 20s and have to dash around way too often to be comfortable wearing heels. I also really want to stay true to my minimalist/casual aesthetic and not create a bigger wardrobe because I need to look different at work. Here are a few ways I’m going to shift my style slightly without losing a sense of who I am. I’ve shared some looks on Pinterest too for those looking for more inspo.
A comfy heel
I have got by for at least the last 6 seasons with only one pair of actual heels in my wardrobe and a pair of shoe boots. This is going to have to change so I’m going to really focus on seeking out smart heels and flats. Because I tend to rush around a lot they have to pass the “can I leg it down the escalator?” test. For example, this pair from Next would look great with jeans and trousers. The colour would work brilliantly with my overall palette of autumnal shades and dark reds. I’ll also probably need to invest in a pair of black heels at some point, boring as that may be – & Other Stories have a good pair.
A bold silk shirt
I’m a huge fan of silk shirts and love how they add a bit of luxury to my outfits without looking too corporate. They look great on their own with a pair of jeans or trousers but also with a blazer or under a jumper. For plain options in great colours I always go to & Other Stories. But I’m kinda loving this Boden stripe. It comes in monochrome (as in the featured image) and in this bold yellow…I’ll probably end up opting for the monochrome just because it’ll be more versatile but the yellow is pretty awesome don’t you think?
A smart(ish) trouser
When I add trousers to my wardrobe I look for two things – a fabric that lasts beyond one season – not too light and not too heavy (otherwise they don’t work for more than a few months of the year) and a style that works with trainers, flats and heels. Cos is usually my go to, or Zara for cheaper but still great quality options. I also tend to go for a neutral or dark colour as they’re better for pair shapes and a high waist as I find them way more comfortable and versatile than other styles.
This Cos pair would work well, swapping out the belt for more interest and contrast.
A slouchy blazer
One of the absolute staples for a good smart/casual capsule wardrobe is a blazer. They instantly smarten up a jeans/tshirt look and can be worn in loads of different ways to make an outfit look super put together. I have a few structured versions and tend to swap them in and out each season but I really want to get one which is more slouchy – for a thrown on didn’t try too hard look.
& Other Stories, Zara and All Saints are the best for this kind of item. The All Saints Aleida is my current favourite. This with jeans and a shirt or over a dress would work perfectly.
A great dress
On days when I need to look really well put together I always opt for a dress. But I am as allergic to corporate shift dresses as I am to skirt and trouser suits. For me, a great dress balances smart with cool and creative and works with all shoe options – boots, heels, flats and ideally also trainers. For dresses I always go to Cos or Whistles. They manage to tread the line between smart/expensive looking and fun, and they also tend to be ridiculously comfortable too. And I am absolutely in love with this Cos dress right now. As well as working as a dress in all seasons (I’d wear a skinny black polo neck and boots under it in the Autumn/Winter or even with a sweater over the top), it also works as a casual option – with trainers or even with jeans underneath tunic style, AND it would work as a shirt too, tucked in to trousers or a skirt. This could also be worn belted for a more structured vibe.
A statement necklace
I tend to wear more subtle jewellery nowadays but a great killer necklace always helps when you want to look like you’ve made more of an effort. It also means you can get away with a long or short sleeved t-shirt for a smart meeting! Again, Cos does some fantastic options or the other obvious place to go is Oliver Bonas. I’ve found on many occasions that chat about a really unusual O.B. necklace has broken the ice with a new client. Go for something bold but not so ridiculous it’s distracting. This one is my fave right now…
So what do you think? How do you tread the line between cool and smart? What are you go to uniforms when you need to look more put together at work?