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Starting from absolute scratch with a work wardrobe

(29 Posts)
ArabellaBeaumaris Sun 23-Jun-13 07:04:59

I have pretty much nothing! One black skirt suit that isn't a great fit. I need a serious stylish grown up capsule wardrobe... Was thinking about having 7 outfits that I can wear so I don't have to think about it in the morning, does that sound like it would work?

Was thinking the lines of smart dresses but wha does one wear them with?

Links appreciated!

Notgoingto Sun 23-Jun-13 07:19:43

How about something like the "lucky dozen?"

LaGuerta Sun 23-Jun-13 07:26:15

Won't you only need 5 outfits rather than 7?

Lots of questions:

What about changing seasons? When do you start? Can you get away with Autumn/Winter stuff for now with short sleeves? Then layer up.

What kind of job will you be doing: industry, function, behind a desk, on your feet, out and about?

What did you observe other people wearing when you went for interview? Lots of places are pretty casual now. I might be inclined to get a couple of things before starting, check out what other people are wearing, then add to it once you have had a couple of pay checks

What do you look like: height, size, colouring. What would you say is your style? Do you like dresses or trousers? Sober or bright? Trendy or classic etc


ArabellaBeaumaris Sun 23-Jun-13 07:38:31

Well, I thought 7 so that I don't get the Friday & be vomited/get smeared with banana & have nothing clean to wear!

I start in September, behind a desk. Public sector. At interview all the women were wearing dresses, either patterned or plain, with jackets over. Men in suits.

I'm 5 ft 6, 10/12, pale with dark hair. More pear shaped than anything else.

I prefer dresses to trousers, & am not great with big high heels. Probably more classic but I do like colours.

Will check out the Pinterest link, thanks.

ArabellaBeaumaris Sun 23-Jun-13 07:40:05

Oh budget £500. Don't need shoes.

I will be FT, long day & 2 kids (5 & 2) so I want it all sorted out as I don't think I will have much time once I've started!

civilfawlty Sun 23-Jun-13 07:46:14

Unless you are working at the weekend, I don't understand why you need 7?

DrMcDreamysWife Sun 23-Jun-13 07:52:39

I'm lurking with interest. Going back to work in August and equally think I have one skirt and one dress that still fits/ is smart enough following maternity!

Aetae Sun 23-Jun-13 07:53:13

Get things that don't need to be dry cleaned. And ideally also no ironing.
Pick the neutral colours first. From your colouring perhaps black/white/grey? Then one or two accent colours.
Scarves are cheap and make it look like you're wearing different things.
Make sure the fabric is good quality - doesn't look like it will pull or stretch or fade in the wash.
Go for boring and plain for the core pieces- if you wear something weekly you want it to be classic.
Tell everyone about your wardrobe challenge and hope for vouchers for Christmas to top it up!

ArabellaBeaumaris Sun 23-Jun-13 07:54:06

I am willing to accept correction on needing 7 outfits! I just thought it made sense to have slightly more to allow for washing & toddler related incidents.

LaGuerta Sun 23-Jun-13 07:56:27

Thanks for answering my numerous questions! Hopefully someone more stylish than me will come along with some genuinely helpful links!

My top tip would be to go into a TKMaxx without your children (!) and spend a long time in there trying on lots of stuff, even things that challenges your usual style. That way you will find stuff that isn't instantly recognisable as coming from Next but at Next prices (or cheaper)

Here are two websites that might be worth looking at as their sales are on:

greatplains there are more formal options as well as beach and party options


MrsHoarder Sun 23-Jun-13 08:00:33

I just did the same with the house of Fraser sale online last week. Although if I had that much time I'd sew my own wardrobe, tailored to fit (but I'm too tall).

Jcee Sun 23-Jun-13 08:27:12

I've been revamping my working wardrobe over last year and work in public sector middle management spending most of day behind a desk.

Whilst people 'dress up' to interview or for external meetings, offices tend to be much more casual and my office does very casual (unless you have meetings) on a Friday so I wear jeans or denim skirt then.

I would buy some basics first to get you by for a couple of weeks and see how the office is and what people wear.

I've yet to find the perfect work dress so tend to wear skirts and trousers with tops and cardigan.

Ive got some good basic tops - ive found zara and sainsburys to be the best - and I have a couple of black camis and some coloured cardigans and then mix and match them all - I have to layer up as the air con can be fierce in my office.

I would buy a couple of skirts - I have this one which is great - and maybe a suit for meetings (then you can wear skirt separately), some tops, cardigan and a dress to get you started.

I'm a similar size/build to you and have some black trousers from gap which are very flattering.

Someone in my team wears exclusively dresses from next for work and always looks great but I've yet to find anything from there that doesnt make me look like a sack of potatoes!

Thurlow Sun 23-Jun-13 08:47:23

I'd go for 7 outfits, it not more. I actually have about 10, but that's because I am a slattern and that means I can get through two weeks if needs be.

Dresses, cardigans and ballet flats here, they feel smart but comfortable and the majority of dresses don't even need ironing. I try and buy to a general palette(sp?), so most of my cardigans will go with most of my dresses. I've got one pair of trousers and a few tops - ironically for summer, as many of my dresses look better with black tights than flesh coloured/bare legs - but they feel more hassle.

I just keep an eye out for dresses, but they are mostly from Next, John Lewis and Matalan. John Lewis is great as it does free delivery to a lot of stores so you can order loads and then just return what you don't want.

Style wise I have (or similar)
Matalan again

amessagetoyouYoni Sun 23-Jun-13 09:34:39

I wouldn 't buy seven outfits upfront. I'll bet my bottom dollar the dress code is more relaxed in a public sector office than the impression they gave you initially.

Having said that, basics that are always useful:

A black or dark coloured suit jacket or blazer that you really like. Weirdly, I tried on all manner of expensive suit jackets and ended up up buying a slightly cropped black blazer from Next which is easy to wear, doesnt crease, feels comfortable and stylish rather than stuffy.

A couple of nice, smart, fitted dresses. I have bought ones from Next, M&S Autograph, Phase-Eight, mainly because they are the few shops that do them long eough for me (am tall).

Comfortable but smart shoes. I am a fan of the fifteen quid patent mid heels from M&S. Dont laugh! I have them in black, red and nude and they are very comfy and go with everything.

I despise trousers, but a couple of pairs of nice trousers - wide legged and flat fronted, or slim, cigarette style.

With a mixture of tops, blouses, scarves, accessories etc you could make that little lot work nicely. Then build in other pieces as you settle in to the role and get your own work-style going on. I have dozens of suits dresses now and tend to wear those woth various heels or high heeled, smart boots in winter. Its the style I have developed and feel best in.

WorkInProgress Sun 23-Jun-13 09:57:27

Do you have an outlet village near you - can be very good for picking up quality clothes cheaper. Second the suggestion of going without children and trying everything on. Scarfs can be bought very cheaply on ebay and can really change an outfit.

AntPants1 Sun 23-Jun-13 09:59:01

I think having about 7 outfits to start off with is ideal. You want options and don't want to be washing things out every evening.

Have a look at next and gap for great basics and then splash out on a couple of things you love like a great scarf or bag. Luckiy for you the sales are on so you should get more for your money.

In terms of items I'd start off with:

Cigarette or narrow cut trousers in black or grey. Next have some great cotton cigarette pants for £28 I have a pair and they have been brilliant

Pencil skirts- gap have great ones also Zara have some great ones in a number of colours (black, green, blue, red etc) for under £30

White or neutral coloured shirt. I don't suit white so go for cream or peach with are better with my colouring

Couple of jersey tops in your favourite colours. Try Boden.

Cardigan. I think people spilt into twin set style cardigan lovers, nipped in with a belt or grandad style ie longer. Personally I wear twinsets style cardigans nipped in with a belt and a pencil skirt loads. But I have seen others rock the longer grandad style too.

Couple of dresses. Try Boden or great plains. I love wrap dresses as I can tie them to fit my figure.

If you like jackets try top shop or uniglo or Zara.

Then it's over to belts, shoes, scarves, bags and jewellery which you can use to dress up/ change an outfit.

What a obout coats? I'd recommend a good Trench coat- M&S, banana republic, gap etc

I will do some links in a mo

Very best of luck with your new job!

AntPants1 Sun 23-Jun-13 10:01:28

Zara pencil skirt...[]]

I have this in the blue but have seen loads of different colours in store

AntPants1 Sun 23-Jun-13 10:02:15


AntPants1 Sun 23-Jun-13 10:04:01

Next cigarette pants

AntPants1 Sun 23-Jun-13 10:05:42

I have worked this blouse loads with pencil skirts etc

tametortie Sun 23-Jun-13 10:06:30

I was in sainsburys yesterday and the gok wan range has some lovely workwear- silky tops with Peter pan collars, tunic blouses, shift dresses, cardigans and cropped trousers.

I wear a uniform but looking at it all made me wish I didn't!! Lovely quality and really reasonable prices. There were a few lovely staple pieces there.

AntPants1 Sun 23-Jun-13 10:07:26

Great wrap dress;jsessionid=AFC249AE1E9898C65FE838A7D485AFEA

herecomesthsun Sun 23-Jun-13 10:48:24

When I went back to work earlier this year I got 4 dresses from Boden sale - at around £20-30 each. They are all machine washable. Downside, they all say "dry flat" which is a PITA. Mostly, they either have a self-fabric tie belt at the waist or have elastane to fit, and they have accommodated some further post-baby weight loss very well.

Gap was good for a bargain black jacket, also have a bargain Boden one, but I was most pleased with some Gerard Darel separates from John Lewis sale, about 1/3 original price, especially a black jacket beautifully cut at the back and some cigarette pants.

TK Maxx also is fantastic, am still wearing a dress blazer from before I got pregnant, and recently picked up some beautiful designer scarves there, also very comfy but smart work shoes - Van Dal and Scholl pumps (I love it that mid block heels are back in Vogue).

herecomesthsun Sun 23-Jun-13 10:51:50

Also, Boden have 30% off current stock at the moment (and the sale due soon). I am thinking crinkle shirts, have ordered some today to see if they will do for work, non iron but will they be smart enough? And 20% off preview (but due to end very soon) with delivery in 4 weeks - have ordered some opaques for work.

mrsfiddymont Sun 23-Jun-13 11:40:00

notgoingto that link could transform my life grin.

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