TAKE BACK THE POWER IN YOUR OFFICE ATTIRE
From the catwalk to your wardrobe… Grace Cahill on the fashion fixes that work in the real world
AFTER A BLISSFULLY WARM SUMMER in sun dresses and espadrilles, I’m instictively aware that my autumn wardrobe feels much more uniform now that I’m resigned to wearing ‘proper’ clothes again. The prospect of cold mornings and even colder evenings, rushing to and from work, doesn’t sound too thrilling. But what I do love about autumn is the endless sartorial possibilities. My favourites are layering chunky knits over blouses, swishy tunic dresses in rusty autumnal prints and breaking in new chunky ankle boots – I’ve already spotted a patent leather pair in Zara and am imagining icy cold morning walks in them.
The great thing about dressing for work is that individuality and personality are embraced rather than eschewed. How you present yourself is just as impressionable as you how you perform. Two decades ago, we needed a sartorial armour if we had any hope of shattering glass ceilings. Your power suit was a pencil skirt, a blazer and heels. Now your power suit is anything you feel comfortable and stylish in. The lines between your weekday and weekend wardrobe are so blurred that any outfit can be re-worked for a Saturday night out or a Monday morning meeting.
Of course, this isn’t news for those whose idea of dressing up is wearing high-waist trousers with a T-shirt and simply elevating it with statement earrings or a jazzy designer belt for dinner. For others, who sartorially divide work and pleasure, here is some revolutionary styling advice – start expanding your brand knowledge. Invest in labels that will build you a wardrobe that multitasks. Modern workwear now accounts for a whole spectrum of career types, from banker to creative, so it’s impossible to tell the difference between them. Our working day has also changed and evolved so much that flexible working arrangements might mean that you spend as much time at home as you do in the office. You need clothes that work at a lunch meeting and also running to the school gate.
Cult brands like Ganni, Finery, Joseph, VB by Victoria Beckham and Rixo are making the transition smoother with form-fitting midi dresses, experimental shirts and smart but less rigidly tailored separates. Sleek tailoring works hard but there’s no reason why soft tailoring can’t work just as hard. All you need is five or six intelligent items as a foundation that you can wear in numerous variations – a dress, a knit, a shirt, wideleg pants, a blouse and a soft double-breast blazer.
Footwear? Gone are the days when we needed to tackle nine-hour days in six-inch heels to gain respect from our peers. Slingback mules or kitten heels translate into smart but relaxed options in the office and mean you can get from A to B without a footwear stash under your desk. It’s all about exuding a softer play on power – welcome to 2018.
“ANY OUTFIT CAN BE REWORKED FOR A SATURDAY NIGHT OUT OR A MORNING MEETING”
STYLE WATCH Grace Cahill