A LIFESTYLE BLOG ABOUT A GIRL LIVING IN LONDON

How to dress for work on a budget

8 Jan 2012


My beautiful best friend Sophie models the ideal interview outfit - neutral basics perfect for re-using and a statement bag to add a pop of colour




Hi everyone!

As it is a new year, many of you will most probably be searching your wardrobe post-Christmas and wondering what on earth to wear to work. If you are anything like me, after living in woollen knits and slipper socks practically all week, it is a severe shock to the system having to look anything approaching tidy. I land very squarely on the 'cuddly' side of dressing and I find this a real challenge. Hopefully this post will help you out when planning your work wardrobe, and making investment purchases worth their weight in gold.

1) Simple bottoms

Stock up on staple pieces in black, navy, grey and stone. These colours will go with everything and mean you only have to buy a couple to match your entire wardrobe. A basic pencil skirt in stretchy jersey will hide even the largest of Christmas tums, and everyone needs a classic black trouser in a modern cut. Get two pieces at first, and then add to your collection when you have the money. Vary your shapes but don't vary into light colours unless you are blessed with the legs of Rosie Huntington-Whitley. Head to John Lewis and visit their 'Woman' section for an excellent pencil skirt, or Warehouse for a good jersey version.


2) A variety of tops

The easiest and cheapest way to vary your work looks is to get a variety of mix and match tops to go with your staple bottoms. I find that square-shaped tops with capped sleeves work best - they will look good both tucked in and out for a variety of looks, and you'll be grateful for a looser fit in summertime, and the sleeves won't interfere with cardigans in Winter either. Choose happy, bright colours that will lift your mood, patterns - anything! Go crazy, as these are your way to easily alter your Monday to Friday look. Why not check out Warehouse's Spring/Summer 2012 looks for some lovely, bright and summery tops!


Warehouse is my go-to shop for bright, summery and breezy lovely tops for work!

3) Colour pop accessories


This leather tote from Topshop is the perfect acid bright.
Another way to brighten up a simple outfit is by carefully mixing up your accessories. I'd recommend firstly buying two sets of earring-necklace-bracelet-bag combos that are very different. Very bright colours work well with neutral tops and bottoms, as in the picture of Sophie, whereas darker, embellished items go well with statement tops. Start small and slowly build on your collection - I think this is the best way to have matching items. Scarves are another way to change your look - a leopard print scarf with a black top looks completely different to, say, a red one. Accessorize do great scarves, bags and hats that won't break the bank. Look after your jewellery too - the cheaper you buy it, the quicker it disintegrates. Where possible, try to spend a little more as it will keep for far longer.


4) Neat footwear

This is the one area where I think it of the utmost importance to spend money. You can get decent, long-lasting footwear that won't break the bank. The most important things to consider are the fabric the shoe is made out of, and the sole of the shoe. I'd stick to leather if I were you - much easier to clean & longer lasting than suede or other fabrics. Obviously a thicker sole will wear better, and check the front of the shoe, especially if you are buying flats - is it glued or stitched? Stitched shoes will last longer, and if the glue looks poor, avoid like the plague! Get one pair of very basic flats, simple boots and court shoes with a low heel for starters. I always visit Clarks.

5) One tidy dress & a go-with anything blazer

Finally, you are going to have the occasional meeting where it is important to look super tidy - this is where the matching dress and blazer come into their own. The dress can be patterned or plain, but get a dark grey blazer - this colour will go with both navy and black bottoms, which are the most common type. You can add to your dress collection as you go through the year - but if I were you, I'd keep them for best, as it really helps to 'know' what you are wearing and that you look good in it before an important meeting - one less thing to worry about!


[credit: on image] See - a black blazer goes with everything - even leopard print! 

I hope this speedy guide gives you a helpful hand on how and where to spend your meager pennies! Remember, start small and buy a new piece each month, whilst sticking to the rules :) Eventually, you'll be feeling braver and more fashionable - and daringly brilliant at picking your clothes!




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6 lovely comments:

  1. Love smartening a casual outfit with a blazer to make it suitable for a work look. I am rocking that look today, skinnies and a chiffon blouse with my cream blazer, as I have client meetings. xx www.mediamarmalade.com

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    1. Thanks lovely! I love the chiffon-trouser look. A cream blazer sounds beautiful. Although perhaps on you rather than me. I'm so clumsy! It would cost a small fortune in dry cleaning! :) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  2. Really great post, I just got a job and I've been struggling with what I should wear, this really helped! I'm getting a hot pink clutch from ASOS, that should really perk up my outfits :) x

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    1. Hi hon :) Bless you, thank you! ASOS is perfect for the cute accessories to brighten up outfits. And it delivers so quickly. Thanks for your comment! xxxx

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  3. H&M and Zara do pretty good affordable workwear, especially when the zara sale is on.

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    1. Agree! I spent SO MUCH in the sales I'm skint! xxx

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