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New job (after nearly a decade) need a new look and serious help please

(22 Posts)
peppersquint Fri 27-Dec-13 07:37:18

After nearly ten years of being a SAHM/career break I have got a full-time permanent job (yay!)

However I do not have a "professional working look" (not sure I ever did to be honest!)

I really want to start afresh - and could do with some help from stylists/fashion folk etc...

Fashion, beauty etc has always been low on my list - I hate having hair cut (probably because it's very curly and unruly!), I never wear make-up and don't have a beauty regime - I am open to change though - but I'm afraid if I do too much I won't feel "comfortable".

To be brief:

At the moment I live in jeans, jumpers, t-shirts, converse - I want to dress fashionably when I start work but don't know where to start. I have lived in the back-of-beyond (not UK) for eight years so not even sure where to buy or what's fashionable/acceptable for work.

I've never done skirts or dresses (except weddings) - but think I could do if I knew where to start.

I have very few basics for work (two blouses, one pair of black trousers and a black jacket)

I don't even have any work shoes (borrowed some for the interview)

Should I buy a "suit" or mix and match?

What do other folks wear for work?

If it helps I'm 44 years old, a size 18 (weight loss is also on list!), pretty tall (five foot eight)...

The job is professional but not too straightlaced - think Government/media/communications

I'd be very grateful if anyone can point me in the right direction - please be Gok to me!!

Fridayschild Fri 27-Dec-13 07:57:16

My working wardrobe is very black as I am a lawyer. Black dress or black skirt / trousers and black /white top with a coloured jacket. Bright jackets for bright days, black jackets or slate grey for somber days. I would guess you can go more on the bright in communications but the single colour as a base is uncomplicated and economical. A necklace. Bangles are distracting on a key board.

Navy and chocolate brown are also possibles but they go in and out of fashion. You can always buy black.

Low ish heels. Kitten?

You have to wear makeup, sorry. Not a lot, but some. Especially if you are working with lots of people in their twenties or you will just look old and frumpy. Can you manage lipstick and mascara if nothing else? Though I think a trip to the beauty counter with a request for a quick no make up look would be better.

Handbag. Obviously I am going to tell you to get a black one....

Coat. Not an anorak. Coat.

FoxyHarlow123 Fri 27-Dec-13 08:01:40

Navy and black together looks great and very professional. Almost no women I work with wear a suit and the ones who do look dated IMHO. Suits have to be expensive and right up to date otherwise they can look frumpy. Have you looked on Pinterest for inspiration? Babyliss big hair gizmo could be a good investment for you too.

dizhin79 Fri 27-Dec-13 08:58:21

Get into the sales and take advantage.

Think capsule wardrobe for work lots of pieces that work well together.
Tops/shirts that suit your shape and get a few colours. (gap, house of fraser (hof), tkmaxx. Cardigans and wrap around tips for extra warmth, just in case the office is cool. (dotty p, m&s)
Bottom half go for skirts/trousers that work with all the above. beware cheap polyester they may be clingy and staticky.
If u think dresses then think shift dresses simple and none fussy.
Shoes - low heeled, flats, boots (Jones the bootmaker, clarks, next)
Accessories - couple of long and shorter necklaces, pain earrings, simple unfussy but can tie it all in together. Scarves can work too, perfect if office is cool and u dint want to wear long sleeves.

Bag - think how will u commute /buy or take lunch. what needs to be carried? I would also say black /brown scour the sales!

AlaskaNebraska Fri 27-Dec-13 09:02:50

I would t try and change your basic style too much just formalise it. Def get hair and basic make up sorted.
I find that somecomfortable bottom halves fight half the battle.
I get separated from gap and bands republic then use boden or marks top halves. Do think about colour carefully.

AlaskaNebraska Fri 27-Dec-13 09:03:06

"Banana republic "

peppersquint Fri 27-Dec-13 09:24:32

Thanks for all your responses guys - now starting to worry more though!

A handbag - never even considered that

Do I need to straighten my hair ?- it is wild - think Alex Kingston

I can do minimum make-up - although I find I stop using it after a week (last time I worked) - need to get a routine going!

I'm now scared of looking frumpy

Can't do sales as not in UK at moment - I will be going back about four days before I start new job - so need to get it clear in my head what I'm going to wear/buy etc...

Gillybobs Fri 27-Dec-13 09:53:32

If you google office capsule wardrobe there are lots of blog posts out there to a for instance

The business traveller post on there gives a good idea of separates to buy and accessories you might need (not saying I love each piece personally but I think it gives a good idea of the kind of /amount of stuff to buy)

Keep a small make up bag in your handbag with a powder compact, lippy and mascara in it.

slug Fri 27-Dec-13 10:49:01

Online shopping is your friend. Duo boots have their 50% off sale running now which is fantastic for the wider of calf.

Uniqulo are great for basic, simple tops. Their XL size will fit an 18. Get a few long sleeved tops in a variety of colours and necklines. Team them with your black trousers, boots or shoes, a couple of simple cardigans or jerseys and a bit of jewellery or scarves for variety. Leave your hair as it is. Curly and wild is a statement in itself.

I'm not convinced of the need for makeup. Though a BB cream will work as both a moisturiser and even out your skin tone a bit. Add either a bit of lipstick, eyeliner or mascara. It doesn't have to be all 3, just what you are comfortable wearing. This should be enough to give you a polished look.

AlaskaNebraska Fri 27-Dec-13 11:00:44

bollocks to capsule - take all the fun out of dressing
first thing is to find a pair of torusers that suits and fits

what shape are you? have you long legs short body? if so I am yer woman

peppersquint Fri 27-Dec-13 11:11:47

Ah Alaska afraid not - I am the short legs, long body kind (bummer!)

What's BB cream?

Are accessories important? I only wear a wedding ring (no watch, necklaces etc..)

Several people have mentioned cardigans - now that's a surprise - what kind? swishy ones? Fitted(ish) ones.

I have big boobs if that makes any difference

AlaskaNebraska Fri 27-Dec-13 11:12:41

right - well you can do trousers from normal stores then.
that is your first thing
then some boots or shoes to wear under.
need you to jacket?

peppersquint Fri 27-Dec-13 11:15:23

A jacket would be good - the one I have now is rather old and boring (Black M/S per una thing that I found in a charity shop - oh the shame!)

Bonsoir Fri 27-Dec-13 11:21:39

If you aren't used to wearing make-up you should start off gently. Dye your eyelashes and groom your eyebrows into shape with a tinted gel and a pair of tweezers to remove stragglers. Use BB cream and a swish if bronzer.

A little eyeshadow and mascara, lip liner and lipstick will be plenty.

polyhymnia Fri 27-Dec-13 12:07:45

I'd steer pretty clear of cardigans with a larger bust - which I certainly have. Would feel frumpy in them for office wear.

Think minimal makeup fine. - as said, get lashes and brows tinted then you only need tinted moisturiser , touch of cream eye shadow perhaps touch of blusher and a slick of lip shine/ sheer lipstick.

A couple of nice necklaces will add interest and individuality to your look.

Pannacotta Fri 27-Dec-13 12:32:17

I think a good coat and nice bag (perhaps in a bright colour) plus some decent but comfortable shoes or knee high boots would be a good start.
And yy to a good jacket, look in Zara.

Keep make up low key if you don't usually wear it and no don't straighten your hair, it sounds great and straightened curly hair always looks odd IMO.

bunnymother Fri 27-Dec-13 12:49:28

I would look at capsule wardrobe posts as a good place to start, but I like options so have a big wardrobe ( capsule X 3, if you like).

I would choose a neutral coloured palette - navy, charcoal or black ( the latter can be harsh but is dramatic looking). I would buy a suit in the colour you choose, then go from there. You may not wear the suit pieces together, but it's a good foundation to build from. Buy the best wool or wool blend suit you can. Have fun w your shoes, necklaces and scarves. Update w shirts and blouses, but get at least 1 white cotton shirt for Important Meetings. Personally, I'm not a cardigan lover and would suggest something more structured, like the Chanel inspired blazers that Zara and co were doing lots of. Mango have some in their sale.

Have to run, sorry for garbled post. Point is, start w best quality neutrals you can, then add and have fun with the extras. And agree to stick to your own personal style, but formalise it.

Floisme Fri 27-Dec-13 14:00:28

Congratulations on getting the job. Do you actually want a new look or do you just feel your work requires one?

If it's the first reason then, if you post some more details of your body shape and your best points, I'm sure lots of people will help you. Pinterest is a great website for ideas. Once you're back in the UK it might be worth trying a department store personal shopper service. But above all, experiment and enjoy yourself. Fashion should be fun.

However if you're not really into clothes - and I may be wrong but I get the impression you're not? - then my advice would be to buy the absolute minimum (trousers and a couple of tops?) then wait until you have sussed out how your colleagues dress. It doesn't sound like you're going into a corporate environment - in fact some creative/media organisations are quite relaxed about what you wear. All offices are different and you may even find that no-one gives a shiny shite how you look provided you can do the job.

I have to say I am aghast that some people think you have to straighten your hair or wear make up to get on but maybe I live a sheltered life.

peppersquint Fri 27-Dec-13 16:19:12

Thanks Floisme - it was a lovely early Christmas present (but now the panic is setting in!)

I don't really want a "new look" but perhaps want to use this as an opportunity to try different things without going too much out of my comfort zone.

The job is in a new city (and new country) - though it is a place I know well. I won't know anyone at work so I'm thinking this is a time to put the last decade behind me and branch out.

The office seemed fairly relaxed when I went for the interview and people seemed to be in their early thirtiies plus - so no real twenty-something trendsetters.

I think what I'm conscious of is being able to go in things that I wouldn't normally and it not being seen as "odd" or out of character.

I have always been a bit of a "tomboy" clothes wise and I remember at school/uni/work/social life - that when I wear something different (eg: a skirt/dress/something feminine) people would always say: "Oh look Peppersquint's in a ..... you look nice!" I think they meant it as a compliment but it just made me self-conscious so I reverted to the usual suits, jeans, black clothes, no make-up etc.... Does that make sense?

In answer to the other questions -
I'd say I want to look smart but not "power dressy"
I will be mixing with press/tv so need to look presentable
No, I'm not really fussed about clothes (I don't buy magazines or watch programmes about clothes and I really don't like shopping)
My best assets are probably boobs and hair!

LadyLapsang Fri 27-Dec-13 16:50:25

Your hair sounds great - my impression is you don't need to do much with it. Why don't you book it with a beauty counter for a makeover, tell them - honestly - what you want and don't feel obliged to buy. Bobbi Brown in J Lewis Oxford St., Chanel in Covent Garden or H Nicks may be good if you are in London.

Good quality basics, coat, shoes and bag - I love Nicole Farhi coats. Good quality accessories - you'll gets lots of use out of them.

If you really think you will change dress sizes soon I would err against buying too much - it will only end up at the charity shop in a few months.

peppersquint Fri 27-Dec-13 21:03:53

LadyLapsang - thank you very much - I will wear my curls with pride!

I will also go and see the "experts" at the make-up counters - I need to find a way to ask for something that looks "natural" rather than barbarella!

As for dress sizes - yep I agree - a basic wardrobe to last the first few months and then (fingers crossed) smaller sizes

GirlsonFilm Fri 27-Dec-13 22:35:54

Wrap dresses in a jersey material are fab and forgiving if you're curvy.

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