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Work presentation tomorrow I have to walk to in the cold: no idea what to wear

(27 Posts)
whattoweartomorrow Sun 03-Dec-17 12:05:48

Am about to brave all the xmas shoppers for an emergency trip to buy clothes and would love advise as to what to look for.

I work in the charity sector and my in-office attire is usually dark jeans and a nice-ish jumper. I have a selection of smarter, but not too smart, outfits- a few knitted or wrap dresses- and I usually would wear either grey wide-legged banana republic trousers with a polo neck and blazer, or wrap dress with heels and a smart cardigan, on the rare occasions I have a meeting with funders where I have to look smart. Except that usually happens in the spring/summer.

Tomorrow I have a meeting where I'm giving a presentation, with v fancy people, and I have spend so long worrying about the presentation I don't know what I can wear.

It is freezing here at the moment. I absolutely have to wear a coat, and I will be getting to meeting on foot so can't change in car/leave coat there.

I think trousers+ polo neck without blazer is too informal. I think dress with opaque tights and jumper is probably the same. I can't wear a blazer with a coat over it. I v rarely dress 'up' like this, with the added complication that there is a fine line in my kind of work- if I went all corporate and bought an LK Bennett dress and heels (what my private sector friends wear to work) then that can be a bit frowned on as, basically, I'm representing a charity and we're not meant to look too corporate/like we all earn lots of money (we also don't earn lots of money, and I can't really afford an LK Bennet dress).

If you work somewhere you need to look smart and professional but not too corporate, what on earth do you wear in this weather? And what can I buy? Have access to a Cos and a Massimo Dutti which is where I was going to start. Footwear is a big concern- is a knee length dress, opaque tights and heels acceptable anywhere but in my head?

Ifartrainbowsandglitter Sun 03-Dec-17 12:08:57

I don’t think you should go buying new stuff. People are going to listen to your presentation not judge your attire especially in your sector. Just wear something comfy and take a pair of smart shoes in a bag and change them on arrival.

AlternativeTentacle Sun 03-Dec-17 12:18:29

That all sounds much smarter than what I usually wear. Can you get a taxi there just to allay fears of being too cold whilst walking?

I just wear smart jumper, normal top, black trousers and boots, with a black raincoat - the top is something which I still holds it's own if the jumper has to come off. And a scarf.

Lily2007 Sun 03-Dec-17 12:22:24

Maybe something like this with clear tights and heels:

www.johnlewis.com/sugarhill-boutique-ponte-dress-green/p3309936?navAction=jump

Green isn't my first choice of colour though perfectly acceptable.

Floisme Sun 03-Dec-17 12:32:52

I know exactly what you mean. Professional but not corporate is a very fine line and I've been in a number of situations where it matters very much indeed.

I don't have to do this kind of thing very often these days but when I do and it's this kind of weather, I normally wear very narrow leg (not quite skinny) trousers - current pair are H&M - with either a scoop neck, long sleeve cotton T and / or a fitted shirt or a fine knit merino V neck jumper (somewhere like Uniqlo) under a tailored jacket. I think it's the jacket that lifts it and I have a few. It also means that if I get it wrong and everyone else turns up in jeans and jumpers, I can just take it off. The trouble is, my jackets are nearly all vintage / second hand so I can't really advise on where to buy new but that's where I'd focus my energy. I have a coat with raglan shoulders that accommodates it all.

My second go-to - though I don't know whether this would be formal enough - is a heavy duty, below the knee tube skirt, again with a tailored jacket, opaques and ankle boots. It's smart but doesn't look as corporate as a pencil skirt.

Floisme Sun 03-Dec-17 12:45:11

Sorry I've just realised you need this for tomorrow! Can you not get your coat on at all over your current blazer? Even if it doesn't look quite right, you can take the coat off as soon as you get inside.

Atalune Sun 03-Dec-17 12:48:07

Wear warm layers under existing clothing?

PaperdollCartoon Sun 03-Dec-17 12:49:21

Smart, knee high black boots are my solution for this weather. They look professional with a dress, black tights, you can stick extra socks on as well. Layer your usual jumper/coat/scarf etc for the walk, but the boots will still work for the meeting.

JennyHolzersGhost Sun 03-Dec-17 12:49:48

Dress with blazer ?

gingerclementine Sun 03-Dec-17 12:50:29

Wrap dress with smart cardigan, opaque tights and knee length boots with mid heels so you can walk in them? Coat and scarf on top.

Viviennemary Sun 03-Dec-17 12:52:53

I wouldn't go and buy a completely new outfit. Why not get a taxi to this presentation from your house. That would be a lot cheaper than a new outfit. But I admit I hate relying on them to turn up on time.

Otherwise I think one of your wrap around dresses and a thicker coat and scarf and gloves sounds the best option. And you could change from boots to shoes when you get there.

whattoweartomorrow Sun 03-Dec-17 13:01:20

Thanks for the replies.

Taxi not an option as I'm meeting male colleagues who will be co-presenting to discuss strategy: we won't be walking far but it will be enough that if I don't have a coat I'll have a red nose and be a shivering mess.

At a guess, they'll be wearing tweed jackets, coats shirts and dark cords and look like distinguished uni professors.

I can't fit my coat over a blazer and rarely see women do that so I suppose I wondered if it was frowned upon.

Thanks for the ideas though- I'm going to have a quick non-panic driven look around the shops and see if I can find something that might work with my existing clothes.

Without outing myself, there will be MPs and businesspeople at this thing tomorrow, and that's part of why I'm just worried about getting the tone wrong. They will be v formally dressed, and I need to match the tone without being too fancy/out of place.

As someone said, it is about what I say not what I look like, but finding clothes that will fade into the background is the part I'm concerned about- it's looking appropriate rather than well, if that makes sense.

whattoweartomorrow Sun 03-Dec-17 13:02:00

Oh- and my knee high boots have a giant hole in them. That's what I always used to do in this situation, and why I'm at a bit of a loss now.

JennyHolzersGhost Sun 03-Dec-17 13:04:17

Will you not be carrying a bag of some kind? Can you take one large enough to fit a blazer ? That’s what I do when I’m wearing a big coat - have my blazer in my bag and switch over when I get inside.

Chottie Sun 03-Dec-17 13:09:42

Wear one of your wrap dresses with a cardigan (layers to take on and off depending on the venue temperature)

Top it with a coat and scarf and gloves. Take a large enough bag so that you can put your scarf and gloves inside and also your presentation notes.

Do you have any ankle boots you would wear with the dress? (ankle boots are my go to boots to cover both smartness and easy walking).

Viviennemary Sun 03-Dec-17 13:09:51

I don't think knee high boots are that appropriate for a semi-formal occasion. But I'm old-fashioned so maybe they're the thing nowadays. If your hair is neat and shoes and outfit smart can't think you will go far wrong. I still go with the wrap around dress. But a long sleeved one rather than a cardigan. Don't think a cardigan is suitable but quite prepared to be told it is.

Floisme Sun 03-Dec-17 13:13:08

When you say you can't get your coat on over your blazer do you mean it literally won't fit over it or just that it doesn't look very good? If it's the second, I'd live with it. If you take the coat off as soon as you get there, would anyone who mattered even see it?

Also are you certain they will be formally dressed? Obviously you've done this before and you know the context better than I do but I've found that even high level people sometimes decide to dress down - because you're a charity. It's really annoying and makes it hard to second guess! It's why I tend to take take 'smart casual' very literally i.e. a bit of both and make the smart item something I can remove easily.

Good luck!

whattoweartomorrow Sun 03-Dec-17 13:17:18

Honestly, the switching to blazer idea once inside didn't even occur to me. I may actually do that.

JennyHolzersGhost Sun 03-Dec-17 14:36:49

grin Office reception staff across London and the south east of England have seen me do a quick change into blazer and heels upon arrival for a meeting.

heidiwine Sun 03-Dec-17 16:12:46

I might be too late but I am in a very similar role to you by the sounds of things and I have a two outfits for this sort of occasion:
1) plain black long sleeved t-shirt, black skinny jeans (black, not faded with 100 washes black) and a long (mid thigh) pale blue/grey cardigan (which looks and was expensive). I then wear black boots that are polished OR I wear trainers and change into pumps when I get there (again polished).
2) navy blue trousers (high waisted taper at ankle), bright fitted woollen top (either mustard or red), navy blazer (which I picked up years ago in the Reiss sale and is definitely the best fashion buy of my life). Shoes are a problem though... I generally wear trainers and then change into a nice pair of smart shoes with a low heel when I get there...

Rest of the working week I wear jeans jumpers and trainers...

travailtotravel Sun 03-Dec-17 16:46:33

I'm senior management in a nfp. My go to for this stuff is dress jacket combo whatever time of year. Day to day mix of dress, jacket, jeans and tops. Most if it from EBay...

gingerclementine Mon 04-Dec-17 17:21:16

@JennyHolzersGhost - you have the coolest name I have ever seen on Mumsnet. And I've been here long enough to remember JessePinkmansHoodie, which now takes second place.

Sorry for the diversion.

JennyHolzersGhost Mon 04-Dec-17 18:56:21

Aw thanks Ginger. I should probably NC as I’ve been using it for too long - dangerous in these days of the Daily Mail etc. But I can’t think of anything better.

JennyHolzersGhost Mon 04-Dec-17 18:57:05

I saw someone posting as AJPTaylor the other day. That was pretty impressive.

GlubGlubGlub Mon 04-Dec-17 19:06:47

I really wouldn’t worry about a blazer. I’m a lawyer so have to dress smartly every day. A black dress with opaque tights and coat will definitely be smart enough. Very few women wear full on suits nowadays and the female MPs will be likely not be wearing jackets. Even a smart jumper and pencil skirt/trousers will be fine.

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