Workwear my way

Who says workwear has to be boring? To me, everyday fashion is an opportunity to share my style and feel good as a result, and I don’t want this to be jeopardised just because I’m working in an office.

I want my personality to shine through in all my outfits, whether that be in my baggy band tee and sweater at the gym, or in polished work form – so colour and quirkiness is key for me. I can’t think of anything worse than sticking to a dull rotation of bland shirts and pencil skirts week in week out (sorry if you do have to wear a uniform, but I’m super lucky I don’t).

When I first started there was that initial confusion over what ‘smart’ dressing actually means, and so I played it safe with a two-piece suit on my first day and got the vibe for what everyone else was wearing. To my relief, the office was a sea of styles and people generally seemed to be unashamedly bold with their workwear.

This gave me the confidence to be a little creative and spice up my black trousers with statement blouses, and swap my black boots for colourful kitten heels. Obviously it’s nowhere near as daring as my weekend wardrobe, but I’d like to think I’m still being completely true to myself.

Admittedly I did that thing where about two weeks in I panicked that I actually didn’t have enough smart (work appropriate clothes) and had to rush out and buy some black trousers.

Instead of playing it safe with those awful shapeless styles you were confined to in school I opted for three totally different pairs: gorgeously high-waisted and belted from Mango, short, strechy and puffy from H&M, and the pair pictured also from H&M, which are deliciously comfy and lurking somewhere between the culotte/flare border.

I’ve been rambling on about fashion being the most important aspect of my work outfits, but actually it’s comfort. There’s nothing worse than sitting at a desk for 8 hours and halfway through getting agitated by a tight waistband or shoes that have started to rub. So with this in mind I tend to go for some airy trousers or floaty dresses.

Those three pairs of trousers are honestly the only items I have had to invest in since starting. I kept telling myself I needed to go shopping for additional pieces but put it off because I couldn’t make the time, and actually it’s made me second-guess my idea of workwear.

I started thinking differently about my wardrobe and instead of spending loads on items I would solely wear to the office, I began styling up the clothes I already had to suit the environment. It’s another revelation surrounding the myth that we always need something ‘new’ for every occasion – pretty much anything can be dressed up for the office if you make the effort to do so.

I have some casual dresses that look instantly smart when teamed with fancy heels, and the same goes for slouchy trousers with a posh blouse tucked into them. Unfortunately this formula doesn’t really work for jeans (I’m working on it).

The final essential factor in my work style-diaries? Whether or not I can wear it out straight after I finish. If I can’t, then I don’t want to know. I already over-pack a million bits and bobs I will never use ‘just in case’ so there’s no way I’m going to haul an outfit change around with me, too.

I like to think of myself as a kind of day-to-night-chameleon. The clothes I’m wearing can change to suit the scenery: they blend in with office life and then stand out at the bar – the only give-away is the bloody laptop bag that is permanently slung across my shoulder.

This blouse is a dreamy gift from Boden, and it beautifully summarises everything I look for in workwear. The emerald green attracted me to it straight away – it’s such an incredible pop of colour and I knew it would be super versatile for work and play.

I have so many wrap-style tops and dresses and they just never get old in my opinion. They offer a platter of subtle sexiness and intrigue, and look great with delicate gold jewellery and a little vintage bag. I adore the puffy sleeves on this shirt too; the way they balloon out and are quickly nipped in with a trio of buttons is lovely and for once they’re actually long enough for my lanky arms!

BLOUSE Boden (gifted, similar here) | TROUSERS H&M | SHOES M&S | BAG Vintage

Yes, in hindsight I should have ironed the shirt to show it off to its full potential – but lets be honest, life’s too short for ironing and it’s just going to get creased again anyway. The only thing I’ve ironed since moving out (to uni) was my graduation dress and I actually think there’s a slightly romantic, carefree quality that comes with creased clothing…

This is the first time my patent work shoes have appeared on here, although they’ve been a saviour for me of late! I bought them from the M&S store right next to the office after wearing Vans for comfort and forgetting to bring my actual work shoes (this is why I don’t take spare clothes with me). I’d been eyeing them up for a while anyway and for under £20 they were a steal – the flash of tortoiseshell adds some glam and sets them apart from plain black court shoes, making them ideal for a swift cocktail in the All Bar One around the corner once that last email is sent…

My next workwear project is clashing prints. I upped my black trouser game because I have such an abundance of printed blouses and checked trousers, but now I’m eager to take the funky to the next level and mix them together. Watch this space!

Lily x

ph. Abi Thomas

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