Monday, 18 October 2010

Work Wear Week on Edna

This week is work wear week on the Edna blog. Work wear is such a big part of our wardrobes...not least because we spend so much time at work! Admittedly a lot of my working wardrobe is not super smart but there are occasions when you do need to step it up a bit and look that little bit more pulled together and professional.

I was asked by an Edna reader a few weeks ago about ideas of what to wear for an interview and that also set me thinking about work wear for us modern ladies! It really does depend on what field you’re in. There are often subtle rules for different professions and you usually have to work out a general sense of what is appropriate and make your style work within that.

I do get it horribly wrong at times – over the summer, I was ready to leave the house for a day of meetings only to be told by Mr W that I was working a “pervy goth nurse” look! Not the image I was hoping to convey!

I guess what I will offer in Edna’s work wear week is my take on what I would wear for interviews, presentations, big meetings and formal dinners in my working environment.

Some professions you have to wear suits but I think for most of us these days, happily that’s not longer the case. Suits are very difficult to buy on a budget. Getting suits in quality fabrics, that fit and don’t destroy your bank account are very difficult. And it’s also frustrating because it's such a big chunk of your clothing budget on something that you rarely wear.

Hence on a budget I am a big fan of separates. A blazer in a neutral colour that can go with any number of different coloured or patterned items in your wardrobe. And a blazer that isn’t part of a suit is often a lot cheaper than the equivalent jacket as part of a suit. My fallback work wear item is a well fitting dress, which can be worn with a blazer or with a cardigan and belted or on its own.

In trying on a few of my fail safe work wear outfits, I realised that my general approach for formal work wear is a fairly limited colour palette lifted by a piece of statement jewellery (nothing delicate), high heels that can also bring in a bit of colour, and a statement handbag. So fairly basic separates with some interesting detailing – which I often buy in the sales and get the best quality I can – and given some individuality through accessories.

Often my formal work wear is needed on overseas business trips where I’ve got to pack light and mix and match. Over the next three days I’m going to show the sort of outfits I’d wear on these trips. The only thing I would change is that I have different heels on tonight than over the next two nights and I would never take two different pairs of heels on a trip, unless I was away for a long time. It would be one pair of heels and one pair of flats.

Tonight’s outfit is one of my favourite dresses, bought in a Reiss sale. It’s quite simple and classic but with some ruching on the shoulders. I dress it up with a patent leather belt, a bold necklace from Untold and some gorgeous navy Pied a Terre mary janes, in navy satin, suede and patent leather (and bought for a bargain £29!). The handbag is the Wallis number I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Tomorrow night is my outfit for a formal dinner, Wednesday another outfit for a business meeting and Thursday some of my favourite work wear on the high street.


  1. I like that grey with the statement necklace piece. My go to items are also a well fitting dress or a pair of slacks with a blouse/shirt. Comfortable heels are key to me - I found a pair with just enough height to suit any outfit but are still managable for commuting or when you end up having to walk several blocks somewhere.

    Cindy @

  2. Statement jewellery just dresses up everything...I can't get enough! I'm with you on the heels...the high ones only come out for big meetings. And if I have to walk any distance to get to the meetings, I wear flats and change in the toilets when I get there!!


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