Friday, 3 September 2010

How I dress for work

Hello ladies - sorry for being a bit slack recently in my postings.  I've been incredibly busy at work before my holiday started - it's started now, so I'll be round a bit more over the next week.  We're having a stay-cation, it's so good just to relax at home, see friends and do interesting stuff.  

I've noticed that I've got 46 lovely followers - thank you all, it's so nice that people are actually interested in my ramblings!  If I reach 50 followers, I'm planning a little giveaway, so stay tuned!

Today I went to a meeting in London where I was the only female there and there were 6 men, all at least 10 years older than me and far more experienced than me in their professions (as I was a bit of a late starter in my career).  I'm a consultant in the property industry, and some of the guys I was meeting were contractors and builders, big burly blokes with tattooed hands and the like.  Anyway, I organised the meeting, I led it, I did most of the talking and I made them a list of actions to do afterwards.  I realised that it was the first time I'd been confident in my job to do this.  And the men all reacted well to me leading, agreeing with my suggestions, and treating me with respect.  Yay for more enlightened attitudes in the construction industry!

This made me think about doing a post about office-appropriate outfits and what I find works for me in different occasions in my working life.


Like most offices, I don't have to be super-smart if I'm just behind my desk and not meeting any clients.  I just wear smartish separates like trousers, t-shirts, cardigans, jumpers, dresses etc and the occasional blazer.  I do try to wear heels quite a bit and accessorise up my outfits with jewellery and make up, but I don't go over the top.  My usual work wear is quite boring, but it suits what I do.

I do try to choose clothes that are easy to iron for day-to-day office wear, as I hate ironing!  So I usually don't wear shirts for that reason.  It takes me about 20 minutes a week to iron all my work clothes, and that's how I like it!  Those tops you can get that have shirt sleaves and collar, but a tank-top body are genius for looking smart without the hassle.

I do keep a black blazer in the office for those times when I have an unexpected meeting - it is rare, but I like to be prepared. 

I'd love this blazer from Stalla McCartnery.  Unfortunately, at £995 from net-a-porter, it's just a dream!

Site Visits

As I work in the property industry, I often have to go to visit various sites, be they a muddy field, a falling down house, a building site and most often, surveying town centres and photographing shops!

If I'm on my own, I just wear jeans and trainers, as I'm often on my feet, outside all day.  If I'm meeting someone at a site, I'll usually dress up a bit more, but appropriately.  I once went to a building site, wearing a trouser suit, with safety boots, a fluorescent jacket and a safety hat.  I looked a right dork!

I've also been to visit a 300 year old house where one of my colleagues fell through a floor!  She was ok, but her suit and heels suffered in the carnage!


What I wear to meetings depends on who I'm meeting myself.  I usually wear a suit, but I might go for a blazer and differnt bottoms instead.  I often go to meetings where I'm by far the smartest person in the room.  However, as a woman in a still male dominated industry, I think it's important to dress smartly to command respect. 

If I'm meeting a solicitor, I'll always wear my smartest suit.  If I'm meeting a contractor, I might dress more casually.  For instance, today, I wore this jersey blazer with black cropped trousers.  

Often my clients are really casually dressed, and I'll be wearing a suit.  But they're paying me to work for them, so I think they should expect me to be smart.

Golden rules of work dressing

Here are my golden rules for work dressing.  These are how I dress and what works for me - you don't have to agree with me!
  • It's better to be over-dressed than under-dressed, so if in doubt, wear a suit.
  • Always wear a suit for interviews or meetings with potential new clients
  • Pay attention to your underwear!!  Don't wear a black bra with a white shirt, and make sure that if you need to bend over in the office you don't show the office your knickers label or bum cleavage!
  • Only wear really high heels if you are in the office or going to a meeting where you can park right outside, and there's no chance you'll have to stand up or wander around for ages.  Sometimes I take flipflops or ballet shoes with me to meetings so I can change into them afterwards!
  • I never wear skirts shorter than just above my knee with bare legs.  I do wear shorter skirts with black tights in the winter.
  • Keep spare tights in a drawer at work
  • Don't carry too much in your handbag if you're going to meetings.  My boss always makes me carry all his paperwork, so I try to minimise the weight of my handbag, and wear one with a shoulder strap so I've got free hands.
  • I keep my make-up relatively simple, using mainly neutrals or purples on my eyes.  I do go a bit bolder on my lips.
  • Also, don't have a really noisy handbag!  I bought a great new handbag just before I started my job, but it had a chunky chain strap.  I spent the first 10 minutes at my desk making a really loud noise as I took out all my possessions, totally drawing attention to myself.  I never take that bag to meetings.
Thanks for reading!  xx


DaisyBee said...

This was really helpful, and I love that Stella McCartney blazer too :)

The Brunette said...

Great post x

You ought to see what some people wear to work where I work and its an office. Very unprofessional.

Like leggings for instance, leggings are strictly casual or nights out with a cute mini dress not for work! And halterneck/ backless dresses!

TheBristolBeautyBlog said...

I like to have work clothes and play clothes, if you know what I mean! It separates the two. I used to work in an office where the dress code was jeans, and I never felt like I could change out of the day when I got home. I like having a smarter wardrobe for work (and I wouldn't wear leggings at the office apart from dress down days)! x

ChrissyDee said...

Fab tips! I love that H&M blazer! Been looking for a nice jersey blazer for a while now but I'm overly fussy about how things fit me as my proportions are weird.


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