Saturday, September 22, 2012

Re-Work Your 9-5 ... Casual Pitfalls

701W12 - product images  of
Dea London - fabulous workwear
for the fuller figure. Loving this outfit!
Smart but casual and on trend.
I am not a casual person, by nature.  When I say that what I mean is that I am the type of gal who has to fight the urge to wear a tulle skirt with leopard  print peep toes and a corsage, most days.  My fashion faux pas is over dressing and as such I struggle with casual even when I need to be casual.

So for me casual in the work place is a complete anathema but I understand that many a different wardrobe maketh the world go around and that for some ladies and gents the prospect of dressing casually at work is actually very attractive indeed, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief every Monday morning.   Indeed for many this is a working environment to be envied:  Common in entrepreneurial, high tech, software, leisure and many design work environments.

Whether your workplace is ok with casual or whether it has 'casual' days, such as dress down Fridays, the term 'casual' is rarely as casual at it seems.  

Honestly, I actually think that this is one of the hardest work cultures to dress for - it so open to interpretation, to personal taste and to going horribly wrong!

Boden - some great outfits for a smart
casual work wardrobe.  Loving this whole
outfit - jeans at work looking so smart.
Now, I absolutely believe that how you dress reflects a state of mind as well as being a signal to others as to how they should treat you.   Consequently, it's actually been easier for me to give advice on the possible pitfalls of the casual work place.

To compile this list I have used my own experience of over 20 years in various workplaces but I've also asked around, done a bit of research and compiled the top tips for dressing casually for work.  

JEANS & JOGGERS - Personally I think your 'slopping about the house jeans' and work should NEVER EVER MEET irrespective of the work environment.  Likewise joggers, hoodies and trainers in your work enviroment are only ok if you are a PE instructor or something similar. 

My advice here: You should look at any denim item and think to yourself 'does this look polished'  Polished is not freyed, ripped or faded.  Think instead of dark indigo or coloured denim in shapes that are bootcut or wide leg.  Also consider wearing denim as a skirt with opaque tights and boots.  

Team your work denims with a smart top - even a smart T - and smart shoes.  The look above right from Boden is a great casual look for work where the consistency of indigo matched with a little pizazz on the wedge sandals and shoulder detail of the top make the outfit both very polished and current. 

I also advise smart leggings in place of jeans if worn with a smart tunic top and smart pumps, brogues or boots.  This is a low maintenance work look too and can be very practical if you are on the move a lot.  This look, above left, from Next makes for a lovely alternative to jeans for the office and embraces key seasonal trends of pattern, leather and berry colours.

    No!  The joke is mostly on you.
    SLOGANS - I once worked with a woman who wore
    an off the shoulder top that had a very ornate pattern; lots of vintage lettering with roses and what looked like extracts of old letters. Personally I thought the off the shoulder was a little daring but what she didn't seem to notice was that it said 'I heart sex' throughout the pattern.   Now this lady was in a client facing role and working with big blue chip clients.  She was duly mortified when it was pointed out to her and to be fair it was within a busy pattern.  But it reminds me...  My advice here is that it is always best to avoid clothing that carries very loud statements (this includes football shirts), slogans and dodgily humorous t-shirts.

    Nothing wrong with the look per se
    but not for work -  unless
    you work in a club/bar.
    PS:  this is NOT the lady in
    question x
    TOO TRENDY?  If you would wear your planned work outfit to either a club or the beach  then stop and put it back in the wardrobe; it has no place at work.  I spoke to a male employer who works for an international oil company.  He talked about how much he liked the casual dress code in his workplace but noted that women, far more than men seemed to get this wrong.  He gave an example of female colleague in the marketing department who regularly came to work in shorts with flip flops, worn with a vest and braces.  He said something very interesting

                          "I'm sure it might be trendy but it just seems in-appropriate.  She comes across as lacking self-awareness and so struggles to achieve resonance among her colleagues." And he added; " if any of my male colleagues turned up for work in shorts, a vest and flip flops they would be spoken to.  But nobody feels ok to speak to her about it. Our dress code is casual and so it then seems like a matter of personal taste and at worst any comment could be construed as sexist" .

    A gorgeous winter casual look for work.
      Layered and on trend.  Casual but very very luxe looking.
    All at Boden.
    My advice here.   If you want to be casual and trendy at work pick one or two ways of doing this to avoid the 'going out' look.  

    Consciously Pick 2 parts trendy/casual and team with one part 'work'.  Your 'work' element might be more conservative colours or it might be a loose jacket to cover bare arms.  Or, it might be your favourite trendy dress but worn with opaques rather than tanned legs.  It might be your shorts and vest with tights and a cardigan!  

    Easy ways to do this within your existing wardrobe is to:

    1.  Team jeans with trendy shoes or with a top that has a fashionable pattern or embellishment.  

    2.  Wear a casual dress or skirt with smart boots or shoes.

    3.  Pick your most trendy item and dress it down, not up.

    Finally this brings me to UNDERWEAR AS OUTERWEAR which needs no further explanation though I would extend this to any looks that shows too much flesh:  lots of shoulder, cleavage, lots of bare leg, muffin tops in the flesh, midriff etc:  No matter how amazing your figure.  

    So ladies if I were to put all of that casually I would say  Think of what you wear in your personal time and smarten it up a notch but if in any doubt - leave it out!

    Yours liking the Dea and Boden look so much I feel a casual attack coming on - yikes

    Lady Mirror Ball xxx

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