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Office clothes/makeover

(21 Posts)
MikeUniformMike Fri 06-Jan-17 18:44:25

Help! I am about to start a temporary assignment (less than a week but may lead to more work) in an office and was all set to go in what I would normally wear for an interview. Smartish jacket, skirt, top, tights and heels. But the dress code is casual.

My hair could do with styling but I only trust one hairdresser and I can't get an appointment in time. I am starting to go noticeably grey. Should I try to highlight it? I have a kit and was only planning to highlight a few strands to blend in the grey. I don't want to use a solid colour.

I am female, late 40s but reasonably trim figurewise. I am sartorially challenged. DP, DDs and friends try to, well they did but now concede that I am a bit of a lost cause, encourage me to not wear shorts/jeans and t-shirt/fleece/hoody with trainers.

I am not sure what casual means. I think for men it would be something like jeans, polo shirt and shoes/smart trainers.

I have several skirts that I could wear with thick tights and flat shoes or ankle boots and t-shirt style tops and a few jumpers. Would that do as a smart casual look? Would a smart t-shirt or jumper (long sleeve navy or black), jeans and ankle boots pass as a casual look?

I don't want to look scruffy or overdressed, and I would like to look quite confident and on-the-ball. I am not naturally very confident or body-confident.

My budget is pretty much nil. Any advice would be considered.

I have a preference for well made clothes and like brands like GAP, Kew, M&S (although the local branch doesn't seem to have anything that suits me. I can probably nip to the shops tomorrow but there isn't much of a selection locally (DP, H&M, Fatface, tkmaxx, primark, Tu and Next but I don't like anything there).

onewhitepillowleft Fri 06-Jan-17 19:13:09

I'm a little younger than you, also sartorially challenged and I've overcome it by throwing (not a lot) of money at a capsule wardrobe of corduroy and denim skirts, tailored trousers, coloured tights and scarves (bright, in any colour that I fancy, just because I like them), flat shoes and ankle boots, well fitting jumpers, shirts and long sleeved teeshirts that are all green / blue / teal / grey / white / black / navy. Everything sort of goes together, and it's all middle-casual. Most of it comes from H+M, TK Maxx and Next with all basic long sleeved teeshirts etc from Primark.

Which is a long way of saying that I think skirts with boots and fitted teeshirts and jumpers are fine. Just make sure everything is ironed and don't feel like you have to wear an entirely new outfit every day. Switch the tops around, alternate two skirts all week - that kind of thing.

If you are worried, take a blazer or smart jacket (if you have one) because they can generally be used to 'formal up' an outfit. Wear your smartest outfit on the first day - it's worse to be underdressed than over-dressed - and once you see what the other women are wearing you can either slack off a bit, or go to TK Maxx on your way home and buy a jacket and a couple of shirts.

onewhitepillowleft Fri 06-Jan-17 19:14:59

I would totally avoid jeans unless you see your boss wearing them. A couple of people wear jeans at my work and it's fine - but I've never ever seen my boss (a woman) in them so I avoid. I think a dark wash denim skirt scrapes through...

Truckingalong Fri 06-Jan-17 19:23:37

Don't do jeans. I mainly go for cigarette trousers and either a shirt, jumper or smart-ish top with shoes ranging from loafers to smart flats to killer heels!

MikeUniformMike Fri 06-Jan-17 19:49:27

Thanks. Good suggestions. I'll get the ironing board out. I don't do trousers. They look wrong unless they are well cut and usually need heels. I don't do skirts without pockets.

I hadn't thought of scarves but it would hide a crepey neck and brighten up a dark top. I usually go for dark top with patterned or bright skirt or bright top black skirt.

I have worn jeans and t-shirts at work before and felt fine but a stylish friend said "it's not a good look".

Any suggestions for a smart trainer? I don't like converse all stars. This would be either for wearing with jeans or with a casual skirt. There is Office and Schuh near me - I'd need to try them on as the size depends on the shoe.
I usually wear old trainers for walking to the station and change into something smarter near my destination.

What about a bag? Any suggestions? I was thinking of a smartish casual backpack in black canvas or nylon (something like fjallraven or Herschel).

MikeUniformMike Fri 06-Jan-17 19:52:43

Ooh truckingalong, can you suggest some makes or shops? I have looked at Boden but not liked things after they turned up.

onewhitepillowleft Fri 06-Jan-17 20:46:27

For a smart casual trainer - Dunlop Greenflash, or the black dunlops, or Adidas shell toe. If you're going to wear trainers, make sure they are very clean and not tattered.

Bag - I use a plain leather messenger bag - this one

Bought it over six years ago, use it nearly daily and it still looks great.

Also: scarves. H and M, TKMaxx and charity shops are good for these. I often use them to add a bit of pattern or a brighter colour. They can be worn loads of different ways, which I like.

Truckingalong Sat 07-Jan-17 20:04:42

Cigarette trousers are everywhere. Try next, river island and tesco & sainsburies actually do some great ones at good prices.

MikeUniformMike Sat 07-Jan-17 20:19:05

They look nice ( search brought up some polka dot ones by la redoute). I hardly ever wear trousers but I like these ones. What shoes with them please? I've got some brogues in cherry and in black. Would they do?

Truckingalong Sat 07-Jan-17 20:21:46

Search on Pinterest for cigarette trousers. You'll get lots of ideas on there.

MikeUniformMike Sat 07-Jan-17 20:35:26

Thanks. Just had a look and they seem to be cropped or ankle length. My legs aren't very long so cropped doesn't suit me. I'll keep looking though as I had thought no trousers but I probably need to review my options. Maybe if I worked out ...

Bejazzled Sat 07-Jan-17 20:45:37

The Uniqlo ankle trousers are perfect for smarter casual with brogues. And they don't need ironed!

MikeUniformMike Sun 08-Jan-17 10:21:54

I like them but not the length - I need full length or my little legs look too short. I like Uniqlo but do their stuff get a bit baggy when you wear them?

sluj Sun 08-Jan-17 10:33:17

My company specifies business attire though it's not a financial institution or anywhere that needs to sell its services.
You would be sent home if you wore denim or corduroy, t shirts, trainers or slouchy boots. Best to wear something plain and smart for the first week and then dress accord to what the manager wears - not what the most casual member of the team wears.
When I have new starters in the team I always send a little email beforehand to explain the dress code and to avoid any embarrassment for them on day one. I would be very impressed if they had thought to actually ask me!
Good luck with the new job

MikeUniformMike Sun 08-Jan-17 11:40:36

Thanks. It is only a few days work but might lead to more. I usually ask because it feels a bit odd if I turn up in a suit when most of the staff are in jeans, t-shirt and trainers. I've been caught out though - was told business attire but when I got there it seemed a bit more sports direct. I think men have it easier but I might be wrong.

ElsieBobo Sun 08-Jan-17 11:52:22

I agree with others who've said avoid jeans. My office is smart casual. Some senior managers wear jeans but would be with a shirt and jumper and smart shoes and maybe a blazer to smarten it up. I usually wore a Platonism skirt (black pencil skirt etc) with black tights and colourful knitwear over a colourful blouse,..have a look at seasalt, I get most of my colourful bits there in the sales. Some of the younger staff went more casual than that (jeans, trainers) but those of us more senior erred on the side of overdressed rather than under.

ElsieBobo Sun 08-Jan-17 11:53:30

Sorry 'platonism' = 'plain' ( have toddler hanging off me)

ElsieBobo Sun 08-Jan-17 11:57:27

E.g. Of knitwear that can look smart but still be comfy, I'd wear over a nice crisp white shirt, with skirt or cigarette pants and brogues etc

MikeUniformMike Sun 08-Jan-17 11:58:32

I rather liked the idea of philosophical clothes. Will look at seasalt.

MandyFl0ss Sun 08-Jan-17 12:01:41

If it's temporary work that might lead to more, I would personally dress a touch smarter than the dress code. Certainly never jeans. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have and all that...

MikeUniformMike Mon 09-Jan-17 23:25:51

It was a nightmare - tube strike. Took 5 hrs to get there!

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