Help for a middle-aged woman working in tech(35 Posts)
I work in senior position in a company that I founded with some friends in the mid 2000s. We work in tech (virtual reality/serious gaming), and when we were low-profile and small, jeans and T-shirts were fine for meeting programmers/researchers. Now I find myself having to meet potential clients more often, and I have no idea how to pitch my style. I'm also in the middle of the menopause, so that's adding to my confusion.
I have been wearing Boden because it's easy to copy outfits from their catalogues, but it's not really me. I need to look comfortable, professional and creative, but not in an art teacher way. Our creative director is French and he always looks very stylish: I feel rather frumpy in comparison.
Can you recommend any people whose style I could emulate, or designers/shops that I should look at? At the moment, I feel my best bet is to go to Selfridges and use a personal shopper, but I am not very good at resisting a hard sell, and I would like to have some idea of what might be suitable first.
I hope this isn't too woolly. Can anyone help a nerd look more professional without losing her nerdness?
What size/shape are you? Do you have a budget?
I am not sure about the creative part, but I had the same dilemma as you so I try to dress like emmanuelle alt, so skinnies, silk shirts, sharp blazers, heeled boots.
Try the kooples and maje.
Another tech worker here! Try Me & Em for well tailored work wear. Really easy to pull together a sharp capsule wardrobe from a few of their pieces.
Also very chic co-founder at my old company used a Selfridges personal shopper - thought it was a good use of her limited time, and they did a great job styling her...
Is there anyone whose style you admire? It could be anyone at all but maybe some female tech high-flyer or tv presenter with a good smart casual look. This is the sort of look I'd like.
I would actually say it's quite important to retain your inner nerd as well. Upgrade shops and materials but not necessarily the shapes you wear. Assuming you've spent your entire career in trainers, jeans and t-shirts check out the enbrogue blog for comfortable flat shoe inspiration. Smart trousers, a silk blouse and cool trainers (of the obscure designer rather than major sports brands variety) is a great look. Or a minimalist stylish dress from the likes of COS, Finery or Me and Em with some naice brogues or loafers or ankle boots. Expensive wool coat in a classic design.
Great advice Fosco.
Also OP do you have any indy boutiques near you? I get great outfit advice from the women in those sorts of shops.
Hi, and thanks to everyone who has answered :-)
AnaVia I'm a standard five feet five, UK 10-12, bit of an hourglass shape. Emmanuelle Alt looks amazing but I'm not sure I could pull off the long and lean look!
Mike I stole Sheryl Sandberg's hair :-)
My budget does run to Me + Em and Finery: many thanks for these - I could definitely work with some of these shapes and colours/patterns.
Fosco You've hit the nail on the head: I don't want to lose who I am or where I'm coming from. I want people to be excited when they meet me because I have exciting stuff to show them: I don't want to turn up looking like I've wandered out of the HR department of a multinational. I often feel like a female impersonator when I'm wearing the whole skirt, shirt and heels thing, although it does suit my body shape. Who makes obscure trainers? Can you name names?
Have a look at Veja for trainers. They are a french brand, eco-friendly, and I think they are having a sale right now...
I need this thread! Need geeky wardrobe that's also client facing friendly for new role. Have you tried hush op?
Your career sounds fab!
Posh jeans in different colours!
My friend has a similar role. She wears smart skinny jeans, blouses (Sugarill Boutique, Whistles etc), smart jackets and Nike trainers. She has the best collection.
I have Ash boots (look smarter than Converse) I wear to work. Plus I have black skinny trousers with zips I wear if I want to look smarter than jeans.
I love the idea of silk blouses with trainers.
That's how i dress. Still jeans and runners but my taste in jeans and runners gets more and more expensive. I like jigsaw for tops. Tommy for work trousers and flat boots. Geox for runners.
Good wool coat in a colour that suits you.
Should be Sugarhill Boutique. Damn autocorrect
I agree with Fosco - keep the shape of what you're wearing but upgrade on materials and shops.
A good friend of mine is around your age and has a trendy, creative, high flying marketing role and she doesn't wear anything particularly 'corporate' but always looks smart and creative. Colour really helps with this. A lot of people in the workplace end up wearing neutral dark colours to blend in so I always get a really energetic vibe from people combining brighter colours such as yellows and purples. Don't go for more than 2 or sometimes 3 colours though as that's when you head into art teacher territory.
Added or unexpected textures and materials like silk are also a great way to turn otherwise everyday items like T shirts into a more interesting outfit.
I always think the people who look most stylish are the ones who pair items well together so that the outfit becomes more than the sum of its parts, and they've usually done it just by trying a load of items together, so have fun with it too. Good luck, your career sounds great!
Agree about Jigsaw for tops, I've recommended this silk batwing top lots on here but it's such an easy shape to wear but looks luxe thanks to the material.
Trainers wise the fashion bloggers are wearing the following: Rogue Matilda, Air and Grace, Ash or Golden Goose (the last are quite beyond me, they look like scruffy converse). If money were no object I'd be tempted by the likes of Northern Cobbler, Grenson, or Seven Feet Apart. Agree that Veja are cool.
Ah! I did think you might look like Sheryl Sandberg. I try to look casual techy but end up in jeans and t-shirt so more ideas please.
I don't really wear trousers but have worn chinos back in the days when they were tapered, and I can't wear 3/4 trousers as I get too many "are your trousers meant to be that length or have they shrunk?" comments.
I love the jigsaw silk batwing top in rust. That's my colour. Damn you for linking! It's on sale. Im have no-spend january though. Maybe no-spend february would be more sensible.
3/4 length trousers are harder to match with footwear imo. They will be all the rage this year and i miggt go so far as slim fit jeans cut an inch above the ankle with loafers with a 2cm sole.
3/4 lngth straight cut jeans with flat pumps a bit too dumpy a look for me.
I am nervous about the jeans that are coming into fashion!!
If you want to spend some money, buy two fab jackets; one in dark blue (not black) one in a proper colour from T by Wang, MM6, Helmut Lang or any of the other minimalists. These makes are incredibly comfortable and designed to work in and look polished simultaneously. Try everything on before you buy the ones that fit and you won't look back.
Bags from these makes are large and look good even when crammed.
T shirts, white, buy 20 cheap ones. Socks, black, buy 20 cheap pairs. Replace annually. Do not think about clothing in the meantime.
Trainers, colours are fine as well as black and neutral.
Expensive haircut that doesn't need a blowdry, eyebrows done, you're off. Don't do nails if you can't keep them up (time-consuming) but hand cream in the handbag always because hands are always visible in your line of work.
Twenty cheap white t-shirts to be replaced annually? What do you do to your clothes Lanaorana2???
CharizMa I bought the batwing silk top (in nude) last year and basically as soon as it's dry I wear it again. I love it so much. Fantastic cpw!
Fosco I thought the same. Ditto 20 pairs of socks - wtf? Not washing anything for two weeks?
Hello again - many thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I have started a spreadsheet to list all the names mentioned.
Lana Thanks for the designer names! White T-shirts do nothing for me, alas: I have boobs and a small waist so they tend to hang from my boobs like a shelf and swamp my waist. The bag tip is excellent.
I do keep my nails manicured with short squoval coloured nails. It's better for me because I don't like wearing rings or bracelets or anything that interferes with using keypads, but I don't use hand cream because I hate the feel of greasiness on my hands (or on my keyboards!).
Count Fosco you are right on the nose with that list of designers: thank you!
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