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From frumpy SAHM to stylish WOHM

(27 Posts)
stuffedcrusty Thu 13-Feb-14 13:34:35

I have been a bit of a frump while being a SAHM: no budget for new decent clothes. I'm starting a new job soon and need a 'capsule' work wardrobe. I've been a SAHM for so long that I have no idea where to shop any more - any recommendations for where to get good quality but not too expensive smart work clothes? TIA.

bunnymother Thu 13-Feb-14 14:05:02

Banana Republic is great. With a few gems to be found in Oasis, Gap, Cos, Uniqlo (silk shirts just came in).

bunnymother Thu 13-Feb-14 14:17:13

Here is a capsule workwear wardrobe list:

1) a dark wool blazer: get the best quality, most versatile one you can, in a dark neutral. If your workplace isn’t formal, you might prefer a wool biker, or a less structured, boyfriend blazer;

2) a white cotton shirt: beautifully ironed, nicely fitted cotton shirt with a stiff collar and double cuffs;

3) a coloured silk blouse: softer looking than a cotton shirt, but also more luxe. Perfect for when you also have an evening engagement;

4) a neutral knit: a lovely, low maintenance piece, as long as you choose a flattering, hard wearing one;

5) a dark wool skirt: the classic office skirt is a pencil skirt, in a dark neutral, but a more voluminous shape might suit you better.;

6) dark trousers: cigarette or straight trousers are quite popular right now, but wider leg trousers might suit your figure better;

7) a wool dress: the classic office dress is a shift dress, but a cocoon or a boxy shape, might suit you better;

8) black leather heels: no higher than 8 or 9cm, but do buy more exciting shoes after that;

9) black leather ankle boots: ankle boots are the perfect starting point, with well fitting knee high boots after that;

10) wool coat: choose one that’s as warm as it is beautiful, in wool or cashmere;

11) leather bag: depending on how much you carry, you may need a big tote or just a smaller shoulder bag. Or both; and

12) accessories: sleek metal statement necklace or other jewellery in summer, with or without a gorgeous scarf in winter.

bunnymother Thu 13-Feb-14 14:18:25

And here are some Pinterest boards for you to look at:

bunnymother Thu 13-Feb-14 14:22:37

HelloBoys Thu 13-Feb-14 14:28:06

I agree with Bunny.

However also don't discount Warehouse and Mango Suits (diffusion workwear). They often do go basic shift dresses, tops and jackets etc.

I also would not go for too many silk shirts, they can be a bugger to wash and also maybe dry clean only.

it also depends on where you work. personally unless super smart shift dresses are a better option imo than shirts.

CMOTDibbler Thu 13-Feb-14 14:28:55

I buy the majority of my workwear on Ebay - for instance I love LK Bennett dresses but I can't spend that sort of money in the sale! But a lovely dress for £25? Thats me.

I do mostly dresses with a really nice cardi or jacket over. Or a stretchy top (coast or Kaliko) under a suit. More casual, cigarette pants and a silky shirt works for me

bunnymother Thu 13-Feb-14 14:32:44

"I agree with Bunny" - my favorite MN sentence grin.

The problem I have found lately w Mango and Warehouse are just how polyester mad they seem to be. I am quite anti poly, so it's a shame as I otherwise really like those brands.

bunnymother Thu 13-Feb-14 14:33:23

LK Bennett from eBay - genius. Their workwear is beautiful. But expensive.

WipsGlitter Thu 13-Feb-14 14:40:10

I think it all depends on what sort of job you do. No offence bunny but no-one at my work dresses in what you've described. It's a great list, but a bit City of London.

I have a range of jersey dresses that I wear with opaque tights. Sometimes I wear black jeans, sometimes blue jeans!

Herhonesty Thu 13-Feb-14 14:50:45

stick to one colour - ie black OR brown OR navy.

one pair of trousers
one skirt
one dress (wool wears and lasts better than jersey)
one jacket which goes with all of the above if you work in a jacket environment

one pair of heels
one pair of flats

5 tops (shirts, polar necks, sweater)
2 cardigans (make sure one is black)

bunnymother Thu 13-Feb-14 14:57:11

If black is a bit harsh, charcoal could be good, instead.

HelloBoys Thu 13-Feb-14 15:47:33

ah Bunny you have a fan grin.

yes you're true re polyester. strange to say was in Hobbs concession today saw 2 tops/jumpers both 100% cotton. no thanks!

Mrswellyboot Thu 13-Feb-14 15:55:11

I am a fan of navy and add cream, white etc

Until you get on your feet financially you could try tesco bit go for simple tops, I sized down (looks awful in picture but when more fitted is great) in this top yesterday and will wear with tapered navy trousers and suede navy wedges,4,shop,catgwomens,womens-tops-and-t-shirts

I also love Monsoon. Their waterfall and wrap tops are lovely.

Good luck in your new job,

Snog Fri 14-Feb-14 17:36:12

I just wear moc wrap jersey dresses to work as they are easy and I can cycle in them but they still look fairly smart.
So I would buy a few of these to wear with opaque tights, plus 2 pairs of shoes, 2 or 3 cardigans/jackets, 2 or 3 scarves and 2 or 3 necklaces. Limit your colour palette is a good tip.
I also have fossil bags and watches in different colours.
This isnt a cutting edge stylish/fashionable look but it works for me!

Snog Fri 14-Feb-14 17:40:34

Shops I have bpught from recently for work are Phase eight, shuh, white stuff, fossil

OnTheBottomWithAWomansWeekly Fri 14-Feb-14 17:48:15

I've recently changed my work style - was doing a lot of cardigans, black trousers, long sleeved scoop neck t shirts with statement necklace and nice scarf in colder weather.

However am size 18-20 and was feeling v dumpy - realised I felt a LOT better in a well tailored dress (cardigan over it).

I now wear a dress every day and find it excellent that I don't have to go "What top goes with those trousers? They're a bit tight so I'll wear a long one. But those ones are long so I need a higher heel" etc.

A good jersey dress in a dark colour with a panel of a pattern down the front is extremely flattering and comfy. Got a couple of excellent ones from Tesco. My sister got some lovely ones this week in Debenham's sale - Red Herring, John Rocha (she got 3 for under �50 so didn't break the bank).

I do knee high boots on a v cold/wet day, and ankle high on other days. Ballet flats for summer.

Beware though of navy/black/dark brown tights on a dark winter's morning - I've arrived in work in what I thought was black tights twice, and realised they were navy! Luckily they went with what I was wearing anyway.

Floisme Fri 14-Feb-14 17:53:55

Workplace dress codes are pretty diverse these days. I only have a few things on that list yet I am probably one of the smarter dressers at my work (admittedly that isn't hard!) My basics are tube skirts with slouchy knits, jersey dresses, ankle boots (grey or brown - not black) or jeans with a fitted jacket. I buy mostly from TK Maxx, H&m, Uniqlo with more expensive bits from Me and Em.

And while it's useful if all your colours work together, a lot of us look dreadful in black or white and not much better in navy. My 'capsule colours' are purples, plums, greens, charcoal and (when I can find it) chocolate brown. They go with each other more than you might think but, more importantly, they suit me.

The other posters may turn out to be right and you might need more formal stuff but I would wait and see before you do any serious shopping. Hope you enjoy the new job.

DrNick Fri 14-Feb-14 17:55:01

that pinterest thing is dickish
mo one is wearing tights
no one is wearing shoes lower than 10cm
no one would actually be warm

DrNick Fri 14-Feb-14 17:55:51

lol at the capsule list

a skirt
a shirt
a jumper


midnightinmoscow Fri 14-Feb-14 18:44:06

Gap for cotton shirts.

Boden ravello top is good with a pencil skirt or slim trousers.

Crew neck jumpers in a fine knit, from Gap again.

M&S cashmere cardi

stuffedcrusty Fri 14-Feb-14 19:32:27

Thank you, thank you, thank you! These ideas are just what I needed - it's amazing how clueless one can get (or us that just me?).
Off to do some shopping!

Mrswellyboot Fri 14-Feb-14 20:18:44

Let us know how you get on smile

DrNick Sat 15-Feb-14 12:22:55

Agree ravello

HelloBoys Sat 15-Feb-14 13:47:06

stuffed - please please check Ebay for Boden Ravello top they're approx 27GBP on Ebay and normal price on Boden.

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