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I get most of my clothes from places like Dorothy Perkins, with a few m&s bits thrown in. My mum commented she thinks at my age and especially for work, that I really ought to invest in some better quality pieces, and I think she's probably right.
However; where do I look?! I am not talking designer stuff, just well made, well cut stuff that isn't frumpy. (I'm 29).
Can anyone recommend some good brands? I'm a 12-14.
At a certain age, you have to stop buying cheap clothes and strategically buy good clothes that you will wear (for work) for several years, and spend more on dry cleaning. You update tops/blouses/thin sweaters fairly cheaply, and accessories, but jackets, trousers and skirts need to be the best fitting you can afford. If your sights are set on career progress, buy a bit dull. If you are fast track investment banking, the rules are not the same; you are expected to impress; here I would go to a posh shop (after looking at many of them) and talk to the stylist.
Good independent shops want you to be a customer for a a long time; they will be happy to help you find your look. The best of them will shop partly with you in mind if you are a reasonably loyal customer, especially in a smaller town. I have lived for 25 years in Devon and for 20 of those, most of my clothes have been bought in two shops. I buy elsewhere too, but the ladies who own the shops know me, what I wear (not business stuff these days) and always have suggestions to make.
I've been building a better quality work wardrobe over the last year or so. I've changed where I shop, but I'm also paying more attention to fabric types and stitching quality. Even the new shops I've embraced have some very expensive polyester lurking amongst the nice things.
I'm also 29, btw. Here's where I've been shopping...
Hobbs. Their dresses and suits are too grown up for me, but I've picked up a couple of skirts in the sale, one thick woven cotton and one a wool-silk blend. They're lovely - and did a good job of 'lifting' my old polyester blouses while I was in the transition phase ;).
Jigsaw. For elegant silk tops, shirts and blouses to tuck into the skirts mentioned above. Again, in the sale, because at full price my budget wouldn't go far at all.
John Lewis. Particularly their pure collection for blouses and jumpers.
H&M. Yes, seriously! But I shop in store, try everything on before I buy, and check thoroughly for wonky seams and trailing threads. I have two great pairs of slim fit cotton trousers with a bit of stretch, and a couple of acceptable tops.
Woolovers for jumpers in wool and silk-cotton blends. I don't buy pure cashmere because I know from experience I can't make it last long enough to justify the price.
I've also been looking at Reiss, Whistles, Jaeger, LK Bennet, and a couple of local boutique type shops. I've seen a few things I like but now I have the essentials I need to watch my spending for a while! I now have my two skirts, 2 trousers, about 7 tops, a wool blazer (Mum's old work wardrobe - sorry!), and a couple of jumpers (1 v-neck and 1 round-neck) as the basis of my work-wear. They more or less all mix and match in greys, blues, pinks, and ivory, plus a rogue red blouse.
This all sounds scarily expensive, but by carefully choosing one or two really lovely things each month, I no longer want to spend money on bad quality clothes. I'm not having to replace dresses that shrink when they're washed (Dorothy Perkins) or tops that unravel at the seams (Zara) either. And I actually like how I look in my clothes.