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Going from smart to casual at work - help me chill out my wardrobe

(18 Posts)
Casualsmartlady Mon 13-Jun-16 21:07:59

So I have a new job! I am a senior teacher and am stepping into a similar senior role but in a very different setting. I am going from a very smart, extremely formal professional dress code (where I have worked for 8 years) to a place where it is the norm to wear very casual clothes, jeans, leggings etc. It is really, really casual. This is great but I am a) rather institutionalised and use my professional wardrobe to give me confidence b) rather like dressing up for work c) like nice clothes and fashion and shopping! I currently wear smart dresses, smart trousers, blouses etc and always with a jacket and good shoes. This is definitely too smart for the new place but I don't think that I will feel comfortable in jeans etc so am looking for a uniform of sorts that I can wear for work, be comfortable but also feel smart enough for me and look nice/fashionable . Any ideas for looks that I could copy that would fit the bill, or ideas to dress down my smart stuff so that I don't have to buy all new stuff?. I think I will also have to retire my heels and go for flats as the school site is a bit more rural and don't think I would manage! I am early 40s, size 10 -12, big boobs. The other senior leaders are men and don't wear suits but go for a chino/trouser and open shirt look if that helps.... I am really excited about the change and will be really grateful for any suggestions.

Ringadingdingdong22 Mon 13-Jun-16 21:18:03

I work in a smart-casual setting, and my day to day outfit would generally be; black jeggings or skinny jeans, a shirt or smartish tshirt/top, blazer or long cardigan, ankle boots or this time of year flat sandals

I have these

Tops like this or this

junebirthdaygirl Mon 13-Jun-16 21:22:39

I work in a rural school where some teachers wear jeans leggings etc but l never do. I love my jeans for weekends so l dress nicely every day. I'm often the only one in a dress but lm quite happy and totally would not wear flats.. I don't wear very high shoes but l like a heel and lots of boots in the winter. So l wouldn't wear a suit but would keep the dresses and smart trousers. I have a friend who nearly withdrew her dc from a school due to the over casual attire of the teachers so maybe you will lift the tone a bit!!Good luck with new job. Sounds nice

Toffeelatteplease Mon 13-Jun-16 21:23:16

Cardigans and tops with existing suit trousers or add in a couple of patterned skirts.

If you can face jeans, and if you are lucky enough to have a suit jacket that will work for this, jeans with suit jacket and top. You are looking for single breasted, well shaped with one or two buttons.

Basically If your working with your old stuff keep top half smart and casual down the bottom or vice versa. If you are casualling the top replace shirts for tops and jackets for cardigans, jeans are easiest to swap in for the bottom, otherwise I'd look for 2-3 midi or knee length or pencil skirts. If your style is slightly smart don't loose that, just work out how to mack that work for you in a different context.

Don't dump the heels straight away if you love them. You could pick up some cheap ballets flats to keep under the desk until you figure out if they are practical.

itstheyearzero Mon 13-Jun-16 21:26:32

As above! Skinny jeans, casual top and blazer/cardigan. On my feet either ankle boots or pointy flats. I got a couple of jersey blazers from H&M, worth a look?

Laska5772 Mon 13-Jun-16 21:28:16

I work in an area where people do smart casual, (local govt) and being abit older than the others in the office ( late 50s). I tend to stick to casual but good quality dresses / tunics/ skirts with opaques or legging , ballet pumps or boots.. ( although I am rocking a slightly 50s summer, this year smile ) .

One thing I have are these this boden tunic dress in the denim and navy ( the red is also nice but couldnt justify all three). they have been fab for work ... smart and comfy !
I'm also wearing both cigarette and 7/8 trousers and a couple of nice Hobbs boat neck tops I love as a look with them along with the sandals below ..

I still do love Boden/ Laura Ashley / Hush / Monsoon for stuff .. though I know a lot of S&B fashionistas may think the are a bit non-U these days! Have also recently discovered Emily and Fin and also Komodo for summer skirts and dresses ,who are both great .

Got some great Oxygen sandals recently also in both the red and blue , wedges but comfy like flats!

Casualsmartlady Mon 13-Jun-16 21:54:38

Thanks all, some great suggestions. Alaska, I love those Boden dresses and like the idea of the cigarette trouser combination. Where do you get the trousers from? Love the sandals too.

Toffee, great advice on making it work.

Thanks all fellow teachers for 'getting' this. Felt a bit daft asking for advice on dressing casual but I do need to find a style that I like which will still feel like work for me.

Any other suggestions very welcome.

Laska5772 Mon 13-Jun-16 22:07:01

I got some great (and quite cheap! ) cigarette ones from Tk Maxx actually. The make was Dahlia. . But the Boden Richmond 7/8 trousers are nice also (sadly they didnt have the red ones I wanted in my size) .
Boden do lots of good % deals often ..I never buy from them at full price!! (and do go through Quidco )

IsItGinTimeYet Mon 13-Jun-16 22:16:12

Pinterest is a good source of inspiration.

Your existing trousers and skirts with a shirt and jumper (Zara lightweight knits are good value and come in many colours).
DP midi dresses and sandals.

PreAdvent13610 Mon 13-Jun-16 22:17:47

I have always worked in places like this. Don't wear jeans until you have worked out the subtle politics of who is and isn't allowed to wear them.

Laska5772 Mon 13-Jun-16 22:22:13

Damn! I am blaming you Casual for making me go on the Emily and Fin website to check it out again before I posted my recommendation ..Now Ive just bought this for my holiday blush

LoveBeingAMum555 Mon 13-Jun-16 22:37:02

I can relate to this, especially the bit about professional clothes giving you confidence and enjoying getting dressed up for work. I got a new job 2 years ago in a very male environment but my predecessor wore much more casual clothes than I was used to.

I think the comments above are helpful. I tend to wear dresses or skirts, opaque tights and flat shoes (I have to be on my feet quite a bit and heels just felt too dressy). I have quite a few lightweight cardigans and sometimes wear suit style trousers with a more casual top.

I would never wear jeans but would look out of place in a suit. I aim for somewhere in between. I wouldn't get rid of any of your existing clothes just yet until you see what you can dress down.

Judydreamsofhorses Mon 13-Jun-16 22:46:03

I'm a similar age/size (but hippy rather than booby) and a lecturer. Typical outfits for me just now - depending on the weather - are:

Black high-waisted skinny jeans with bare ankles and brogues, nice blouse tucked in
Dress - just above the knee - with opaques and flat Chelsea boots
Black peg-leg trousers, again, high-waisted, with a boxy, slightly cropped top (sitting just on the waistband, with a vest underneath) and either brogues or sandals

In winter I wear a lot more dresses and patterned a-line skirts with plain, crew-neck jumpers. Never wear a heel, always brogues or Chelsea/biker boots.

Floisme Tue 14-Jun-16 07:02:14

I sometimes need outfits that look professional but not intimidating. I think tube skirts are great for this. You can smarten them up with a jacket or dress down with a loose fitting jumper/top.

The rest of my work wardrobe is:
Jeans with a jacket.
Pencil skirts or tailored trousers with a sweatshirt.
Smartish dress/skirt toned down with Leggings /footless tights.
Same smartish dress/skirt with flat, bikerish boots, plimsolls or converse.

It sounds like a great move, hope it goes well.

Casualsmartlady Tue 14-Jun-16 07:06:56

Really helpful and empathetic comments thank you! I think I need to check out brogues and boots and nice flats. Love the idea of smart casual tops/knits with trousers and a line skirts too. Starting to like the idea of this wardrobe. Any other thoughts v welcome. Haven't bought anything yet, am still thinking and putting ideas together in my head!

Casualsmartlady Tue 14-Jun-16 07:09:44

Ha ha - Laksa - sorry! Sure you needed it. T'is v nice!

JemimaMuddledUp Tue 14-Jun-16 07:15:44

I work in a fairly casual office. I wear a lot of wrap jersey dresses, jeans with a blazer, wide leg printed trousers with a fitted top, Breton tops with wide leg smart trousers. Flat shoes (I own several pairs of brogues) are good.

ktjb39 Tue 14-Jun-16 14:27:40

I'm a part time teacher with other responsibilities that involves meetings etc and I like to dress smart. H and m 7/8 trousers with smart tops, ponte jacket, smart jersey dresses, pencil skirt and boxy top that kind of thing. Smart flats usually but occasionally heels - good luck in your new post I think it helps with confidence and authority when you feel you are smartly dressed.

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