Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Image of a Working Woman

I did not set out to save money this year, but it is fairly clear to me that my total spend of less than £90 a month on “myself” is pretty low for a working woman of middle years in a middle-management role. OK, I also bought things like nail polish (4 bottles, not used since the summer) and coffee (a cup a day 5 days a week, 44 weeks of the year) but the £1050 annual spend already documented is pretty much the whole story: my total "selfish" expenditure. Most of my reading this year has been from library books.

As a few people commented on my  post about Ready to Wear, it might be time to cut myself some slack and live a little. I haven’t “suffered” by any means, and my love of sewing and knitting has carried me through all the low patches. But yeah, there were some low patches and I sometimes felt like treating myself but didn’t “give in to temptation” because the potential guilt felt worse than the non-specific sadness that sometimes washes over me. Hey – I’m a girl, OK?!

The Financial Position
I am currently earning more than I ever have. I squirrel away as much as possible into my savings account, because I have a plan to move back to England once I am on my own (I'm just being realistic, don't get all soppy on me!) and I know that will be an expensive move.  The house is in a poor state of repair and I will be depending on the sale of the farmland to finance my next home.  I reckon I should raise enough funds to pay for a small terraced house in Hebden Bridge :)
But yes, I can afford to be kinder to myself in the here and now.  That too is an investment in the future!

House for sale in Hebden Bridge.  One day!
The Workplace Wardrobe Quandary
I live in the muddy sticks and have a very hairy dog. But my job is in a fairly formal environment in the Corridor of Power. My appearance is not always entirely appropriate to my role. I find it hard to balance my inner impulse to rebel with the demands of my job.
I have a wardrobe of quirky hand-mades and a navy cardigan of ill-repute, no social life and no professional network.
Is this a sustainable position? I don’t think so. I am rapidly reaching the stage where I will be labelled “eccentric”. FL chuckles and says I am already there, but I think I still retain sufficient gravitas in the workplace to step off the slippery slope.
Right now, I am in distinct danger of self-sabotage.  A recent interview was a shock.  I simply don't know how to be a "career woman".
I don't want to be the one who takes on extra low level tasks just to make themselves indispensible - oops, I already did that!  Quality not quantity should be my aim!
I have agreed to attend a professional conference in March and I am consciously “building my portfolio” so that nobody can deny I look serious on paper.
But I know I that if my job was advertised now, I wouldn't have the necessary skills / experience / qualifications to meet the Person Specification.  It is a classic case of staying too long in one place.  I can do what I am paid to do, but I don't feel like "the specialist" I am purported to be.  Its not just an issue of self-confidence, but I'm sure that's part of it.  No male of the species would admit to this scenario!
So what to do?
What I wore to work today...

I hate to say this, but it might be time to act like a Grown Up... if only at work.
I refuse to become one of those women in black boxy-jacketted 1990's trouser suits. I used to dress like that ... in the late1990's!  Some career advisers say you should dress like your boss:  to make clear your aspirations for promotion.  But I am not seeking promotion.  I just want to ensure I look like the person I am already supposed to be.
People on the same grade as me are either boxy-suited or Boden-ed, or both.  I have relied on the ubiquitousness (ubiquity?) of the Boden-look as my license to stay quirky.  But my interpretation may have strayed too far into what others would consider to be Weekend Wear... or just plain weird :S

So what's the plan?
As long as I have to live here, I need to hang onto my current job / employer, so I need to pull my socks up a bit.
I do have my good days, when I make the effort to look smart for serious meetings.  I need to do that more often, if not every day.
Scarves are amazing things.  So is jewellery.  Clean shoes should be a priority (a quick glance at my current footwear reveals a tide-mark of mud from walking from the front door to the car this morning).  I need some alternatives to the saggy navy cardi... which probably entails shopping.
For goodness' sake! I simply need to take more care about my appearance:  get my hair cut more often than once every 6 months;  smarten myself up at the edges;  sew more career-appropriate items; and accept that this is probably not the right time to dye my hair purple and wear Doc Marten's. 
Or else... start digging my escape tunnel with a bigger shovel.


Miriana said...

Well, I hope you don't lose the quirk entirely. It's possible to look the part without looking like everyone else.


Scruffybadger said...

I'm sorry i've missed your earlier posts analysing your RTW & your sewing & knitting makes this year - but have caught up now. Great reading & I always find this kind of review interesting. Things like style I feel evolve for most of us who think about it. And when it is in our gift to create our own clothing, then I feel we have more freedom to adapt our wardrobes & therefore they can well be more quirky, individual & just well, un-mainstream according to our style influences. It's very interesting what you say about your work wardrobe & perhaps a greater need to "fit in" without compromising who you are, but needing to show that you are not unaligned by how you dress. Serious stuff, but I like to think that there are benefits in having two wardrobes - it means you can create so much more & define your style differently - lots more inspirational options!! I also find that it's nice to know that when I wear non-work clothes, it's another trigger to relax!

Gail said...

Roo, I so admire how analytical you are about these things. I had a couple reactions to this post:

1. You would look fantastic in a sleek suit - you have the figure for it!

2. Maybe this is the time to take your sewing to the next level, and make said tailored suit yourself? Then you could put the quirk on the inside, and it could be your own little secret.

I'm finding these posts very inspirational!

natalie said...

Maybe a smaller colour palette would work?
Or instead of making separates in different colours and fabrics, buy a couple of five metre lengths of something gorgeous (I recommend Ray Stitch in London who are not cheap but send samples).
Five metres would give you a skirt, a pair of trousers, and maybe a dress or a jacket. If the main pieces are simple and plain, you can splurge on the scarves which bring you joy!

Judith said...

What ever you choose - digging your way out, or sewing the work clothes - do it with 'your style' showing through!

sewstyled said...

Ah yes the work wear quandry. I too have a middle management position in a hospital. I'm probably one of the better dressed people in my cohort of colleagues. I like, no love, dressing up and rebel by not wearing jeans on many casual Fridays when jeans are allowed. I was surprised at how casually people dressed, compared to my previous workplace, when I started last year. At the middle manager's Christmas lunch today, my boss commented that most people's dress was casual Friday wear every day. She was talking about sending out a notice about allowing casual days between the holidays.
Fabric makes a big difference in making something look casual or dressy. Think wool gabardine versus cotton twill or corduroy versus crepe (the corduroy Kelly skirt is nice, but maybe not nice enough for work if you're aiming to be more sophisticated but still yourself). Most of my clothes are fairly plain and tend toward classic, but have "nice" leather shoes and am probably known for my love for chunky semi-precious stone necklaces.

The Foggy Knitter said...

One really simple thing to do might be to have a pair of shoes you wear from the house to the car, possibly drive in and then change shoes when you arrive at work. Around here lots of working women wear trainers/flats into work and then change into high heels at the office, so it's just a slight change?

I'm no expert on office dress otherwise though, some great advice so far.

Sigrid said...

This hit me pretty close to home as I am currently trying to be more professional and the clothing issue is perplexing me. I work in a male-dominated, outdoor-oriented career and I cannot figure out how to dress. At a meeting last week (with 7 other men), I wore a Ginger skirt and blouse with boots. Other guys were in suits, slacks and button down shirts, torn jeans with sport sweat shirts, jeans and sweaters--you name it! Yesterday, I was wearing very dirty bouldering pants and steel-toed boots and felt like I fit in a bit better with the other three guys. Yet, when job-hunting I am totally unsure what to wear: a suit? a skirt? trousers and sweater?

I think the idea to invest in some high quality fabrics and sew some suit separates that don't feel like cheesy government working women wear is probably excellent advice.

Mary in TN said...

The work wardrobe is my quandry too. Though currently unemployed (thank you dear budget reductions), my work alternated between meeting with high-power-dressing clients and then having to turn around, often in same day, to go out into the muddy construction environment. I did carry several pairs of shoes in my car and kept an extra set of jeans/field wear and steel toed boots in my office as well as extra suit with appropriate shoeing, but it was quite a hassle to keep everything fresh and not dated. Investing in high quality fabric for work wear seems like good advice. I too found scarves very useful. My wardrobe was traditional colors ("boring" as my creative self would say) but using colorful scarves still allowed me to express myself. Now that I am job-hunting I am not too sure what to wear but tend to think one cannot be too wrong in a suit.

Sandy said...

In my former life - when I was working - I was a public relations consultant and that included 'dressing for success' seminars for both men and women. Working with upper management when staff was not dressing to reflect the image of the company, etc. If I had to go and look for work today, I'd show up in a A-line skirt with a matching thin wool or cashmere sweater set and moderate styled shoes (not 3" spikes, for example) or a navy blue twill suit and a silk blouse and matching shoes and purse. These two outfits should be able to take you anywhere, and to update or change, a simple change of blouse or sweater could do it, making the overall investment less overwhelming.

The challenge of being in middle-management is that one can inch upward or slide downward, but without 'connections' the downward slide has the potential to occur without much notice, as you so aptly noted.

Being realistic about your future makes good sense and perhaps The Boy can help you prepare when it comes time, remembering what a creative job he did with the bath.

Have a lovely Christmas enjoying your lovely place where you are now...

Macska said...

Oh, the work wear issue - I'm very familiar with that! I often wonder how much I'm shooting myself in the foot, wearing too much of my own style to the office. It's a heck of a decision at times - conform vs advance. :-/

I agree with a lot of the advice above though - making garments in work-type fabrics would step your look up in the "professional" stakes, while allowing you to retain your personality with it.

It's all a bit of a balancing act really, though, isn't it?!

mshamster said...

Embrace the quirky! Enjoy being who you are, and don't feel the urge to be a clone of others ;_) you always look fab!

Kat said...

Interesting post Roo :) In April I started my first office job and invested in a small number of "sensible" work clothes with the aim to supplement these with handmade items. However, due to the commute to work my days are long and so far I have not managed to make as many items as I would have liked. As a result, I feel that my work wardrobe does not really reflect me as a person. On one "casual Friday" (ahh minefield) I wore a dress that I love and someone commented how I was "taking on" the style of a colleague who wears quite colourful and quirky clothes. This upset me because this is probably the kind of style I have outside work, and underlined the fact that my work clothes are not really me.

So what to do? I have decided dresses are the way forward. I plan to make a few simple dresses in fabrics which are appropriate for work but still maintain an individual style. Also I will make some plain basics which can be accessorised with scarves and other accessories - like you say, a great way to cheer up an outfit and make it a bit more you! Good luck with your work wardrobe, there is some great advice above :)

Lucy said...

I will be fascinated to see how this one progresses. When I entered the workplace about eighteen months ago, I had a v limited work wardrobe due to my student 'uniform' of jeans and hoodies. It's less limited now, but I do crave more variety and am very conscious of the fact that even if my clothes are suitable for my position of Band 400 administrator, Band 400 administrator is not where I would like to stay.

And my eventual career aim takes me into the world of the corporate, something neither I nor my family have any experience of. Ulp.

My real issue, though, is fit. If clothes don't at least approximately fit they won't look smart - and how am I meant to be able to afford a whole working wardrobe from LTS? So sewing if shall have to be, at least for the fitted wovens.

Incidentally, I do think that you are right about the need to relax your RTW standards a little! If you hammer yourself with guilt over every single little pleasure... Well, i'm sure you don't need me to tell you what will happen :-)

dottiedoodle said...

Your post and the comments are so interesting. I used to work in a very formal job, so classic suits all the time, but rebelled with fabulous shoes. I don't think 'upstairs' ever noticed - though where I'd got one pair was a question from a delegate after I'd made a presentation!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and some great comments. I've thought about this a lot for my own position and really empathise with your quandry. On the career front, I'd suggest compartmentalising and prioritising your feelings and needs - if the most important thing right now is to advance a bit, make connections, fit in a little more and have financial security then that's okay! If it demands a few modifications in clothing and behaviour but from those modifications you achieve those priority things of a job, security, etc - that's okay too! Priorities change and it sounds like you're thinking about what you need to do now to free you up in the future. And really it's just about dialling down some aspects and dialling up other aspects of behaviour not about behaving in unacceptable or unethical ways - a complete personality change is not sustainable, let alone not recommended.

On the clothing front it looks to me like you have both casual styling AND casual colours/fabric choices and for a work wardrobe it would be preferable to have one OR the other. So, if the styling is casual go for very sober colours with one tiny element (a ring, a necklace) of colour pop; in this instance (of overal casual wear) I think a scarf is too much. However, my personal preference (which I think is also better for work) is very smart tailoring with beautiful colours as accents (eg bright lining to a jacket, a jewel coloured shirt) OR unusual fabrics. That way one seems both 'dress appropriate' whilst also being able to revel in style. And smart tailoring really doesn't equal boxy jackets. Take a look at some Vivienne Westwood or Galliano suits for exquisite cuts, as inspiration. Fitted is always better. (The shops Zara and Mango can be great for fitted/tailored work appropriate items at not too expensive prices. I'm in my 40s and I've got pieces from there though I try not to shop on a saturday in order to avoid the hordes of people 30 years younger than me!).

On transitions from mud to carpet, then 'farmhouse' styling can be a good inspiration, as long as it's done in a fitted/tailored way - warm tweedy jackets with jeans and boots, for example. And I second the note about keeping shoes at work - it's how I manage the long walk.

Finally, I think the bright scarf with smart dark suit look is really, really aging (and boring). I see a lot of women do it in an attempt to look office appropriate whilst also expressing personality - but it seems to strike in the later 40s and early 50s and it becomes its own uniform whilst also being pigeonholed to a specific age bracket...

Anonymous said...

I make most of my own work clothes at the moment, because it cheers me up to wear something I've made myself, and some mornings you really need that as you head into the corridors of power. My wardrobe for work essentially consists of franken-Cambie dresses, so the Cambie dress with pencil skirt instead of a line, block colour pencil skirts with patterned Pendrell blouses, navy or gray thurlow trousers with pendrell blouses or Renfrew tops, one seam skirts (bought the pattern from youhoo) with button blouses and in the summer I throw in a few Colette dresses for fun (peony, truffle and crepe). I don't wear much black at all, but I do think I look professional without turning into a drone. Really should stop telling my colleagues about sewing pants though. Knicker making is probably not office appropriate chit chat.

Sadie said...

Interesting post. I'm also middle-management, and I think work in the same sector as you, and I was looking back over my two and a bit years of outfit photos last night thinking about how what I wear to work has changed to adapt from a pretty casual environment to my current role. When I first started, I was dressing pretty conservatively (for me, at least) but now I think I'm starting to suss out where I have a bit of wiggle room to express myself. I mostly wear jersey dresses with jackets in the winter, and either dresses or skirts with plain tops and cardigans in summer; allowable quirks include bright colours, fun prints (not always from Boden, but along those lines!), handknitted shawls/scarves, bright tights with otherwise sober outfits, interesting jewellery; the things I can't make work (yet) include handknitted cardigans (boo!), short skirts, especially fuller ones, clumpy shoes (I still haven't quite worked out what shoes I can wear in summer). It's not easy finding the right balance, but I don't want to spend most of my time in clothes I don't like!

Looking at your outfit here, I think you could wear the cardigan with a longer, straighter skirt in a heavier fabric (tweed? wool gabardine?) or with trousers, and the skirt with the black tights and a black top and jacket or maybe a polo-neck and either would look fine - it's just together that they look a bit casual.

Linda said...

Middle management here too! I find it so boring dressing for work - probably shows in my clothes. I never, ever wear a skirt or dress to work, because I have a 90 minute round trip walk, and in the winter it would be too cold and in the summer I can't stand tights. Keeping up with my boss is not an option, as her wardrobe must be the size of a large aircraft hangar. I do keep my smart shoes at work.
My long-term dream is to move north and escape to a lowly, interesting job (already identified) where I will be able to use my languages and will have to WEAR A UNIFORM! Yes! I will be free from the tyranny of workwear choices forever!!

Tamsin said...

Roo, your honesty in these posts is inspiring. I think you clothes are fab, but as you say not totally appropriate for your job. I don't have any comments as such, just that were I to find myself in the world of work again, I would be completed stuffed on the work wear front!

LinB said...

The beauty of having a "work uniform" is that you don't have to think about what to throw on in the morning -- you grab something from the uniform side of the closet and can be certain that everything on that side will coordinate with each other. I second the notion above of carrying "work" shoes with you and changing once you get to the office (or find a drawer to store them in at work, to avoid having to carry them). I also second the notion of buying 5-10 yards (metres?) of a decent solid, and making a coordinating mini-wardrobe that will work with blouses you already own: Your last couple of years' sewing has revealed the shapes that work best on your figure. Buy a pair of good hair-cutting scissors and trim your own hair, between visits to the beauty parlor. Take small steps, don't "should all over yourself," and have a merry Christmas.

Myrna said...

I don't have the work situation you're describing but my stay-at-home wardrobe has the same feel. It's safe and easy to throw on jeans and a t-shirt and it takes a tremendous amount of energy and thought and effort to move in new dressing directions. Like you, I want to take it up a notch. Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration and the ability to tag along and learn from your journey.

Sarah Rooftops said...

I hear you - and it's a bit of a relief to see so many other people nodding along in the comments section. I'm getting away with it just now because I'm actually one of the smarter dressers at my work, but that's a reflection of my workplace not my style - I know if and when I move on, I'm going to need to go on a really boring shopping spree.

RebeccaHoward said...

Middle management. Even the words sound boring don't they. But if I understand correctly, rather than middle management, you have niche skills which hopefully make you indispensable. I agree that £90 sounds NOT VERY MUCH at all so take some time out for yourself. Go buy a jacket to go over your skirts and dresses. Keep same coloured or dark tights with your skirts and dresses. Buy a couple of darkish coloured cardigans to change into at the desk for comfort but change into the jacket when going out of the office to lunch or meetings. Go have a fancy haircut more than twice a year. Wear a smear or two of makeup. Maybe(gasp) have a facial. A nice girly thing to do with The Girl when she visits from London? Roo you are feeling in a rut. Wait till the Christmas sales the go have yourself a bit of a storm in some RTW shops. But.......not ALL for work.

christinelaennec said...

Your post and the comments about work wear are completely fascinating to me. I've never cracked it myself but I have managed to avoid being dressed entirely in black for work, which is the one rule I have never wavered from.

Valerie said...

Roobeedoo, I am a relatively new reader and want to say I love your blog. I do not have to worry what to wear to work - I change into scrubs - which ironically leaves me free to love clothes, but my daughter has to dress corporate which can be a challenge. She said three things: Jacket, shoes, hair.

jo90 said...

I get constantly frustrated with the 'rules' about what we should wear for what job. I manage a medium size team and ok, I accept there are things that are inappropriate (hot pants, boob tube) but who decides what the uniform is? My organisation tried to say no visible tattoos - that to me says more about their personal prejudices than the need to project some corporate image. I go through phases, sometimes I am a trousers and blouse with cardigan, other times I am leggings with a dress and boots. I do though sympathise with an earlier commenter about what shoes to wear in summer! Go with your style girl!

jessica said...

The work clothing quandry!!! The bane of my life. If it was up to me, I would dress uber funky and quirky all the time. But sadly, that's not a possibility for me at this time. Being young and looking even younger (often mistaken for The College Intern), I have to dress somewhat professionally if I want to be taken seriously - and I still probably don't do enough of that. Definitely related to this post and all the great comments!

Agree with the comments about investing in some nice fabric, and how color and fit can make a huge difference. I usually try to stick to the either casual or quirky but not both rule - quirky print, bury it in a formal cut; casual style, dress it up with a formal fabric. I also try to have one or two neutral colored versions of various 'professional' garments - blazer, cardigan, plain pencil skirt, slacks, conservative dress - and then layer stuff onto that. And keep the quirk down to 1 item at the most. Or, if I push it with more than that, I try to do it on Fridays, or at most 2 days per week. (In an ideal world, there are weeks where I don't care because work is stressing me out and I need SOMETHING to keep me happy)

Maybe you can make an exception to your ethical concerns and invest in one nice blazer and matching slacks or skirt - something that can formalize anything else you wear as separates, and that you will feel smart in for the meetings and conferences? And ... to avoid going too crazy over this ... alternate sewing projects between workwear and fun, home wear?

Anonymous said...

I'm an At Home Mom so my wardrobe is uber-casual. But I have a friend who recently started her own clothing line and she never looks boring and always professional. I've noticed she wears lots of belts, lots of pencil skirts, and high heels. But everything is patterns and colors! Somehow she pulls it off. So it is possible! If you want to check out her clothing line -

Lizzi said...

In another life i had to dress for the office. i worked on the 'capsule wardrobe' theory. navy, black and cream or white for me with a couple of skirts and jackets and three or four shirts/blouses. Dressing up with scarves and jewellery did the job and to me it was entirely boring but they were my work clothes and once the decision was made I didn't have to think about it anymore.

Good luck.

Roisin Muldoon said...

This is something I think about, too. I wonder if, for me, it's about a career-crisis rather than a wardrobe crisis! When I first started working where I work now, a friend and colleague suggested I should dress more conservatively if I wanted to be taken seriously. It isn't that I'm not smartly dressed and or well put together or neat or presentable - I am all of these things - but you can probably tell from my blog that I err towards the more flamboyant end of the spectrum.

But when I thought about it and looked at the way my colleagues dress - well, none of them dress in a particularly corporate way and in fact I think I am more smartly dressed than them, even if I am more flamboyant with it.

So that might change when I change jobs, I really don't know. Anyway, this is probably not that helpful in terms of giving advice but I wanted to say I understand! x

Lucy said...

I am definitely going to revisit these comments at some point for a set of workable guidelines. They are all fab!

Dichohecho said...

I agree with Lucy above, this is definitely making me think about my appearance in relation to work. I'm just coming to the end of my studenthood so interview clothes are the order of the day for me. I'm decidedly low maintenance and rarely wear any makeup or blow-dry my hair but I do worry that it might make me seem more tired & less "on top of things". I think that the best strategy will to be pick a few simple things that help and stick to them - then it can become more habit than an onerous task or a constant worry. Actually, thinking about that now I can understand a bit more the type of woman who has clearly had the same hairstyle for thirty years - if it's smart it serves a purpose and is one less thing to worry about!

Kay said...


I have been thinking about taking my work wardrobe up a notch as well and also started consciously thinking about the way I present myself at work.

I was looking at the clothes that you have made and found that they can actually be very nicely incorporated into work wear, provided only one piece of 'signature you style' at a time.

Say the pheasant-print Airelle, when worn with navy trousers or navy pencil skirt, and brown shoes, would look pretty well put together!

Your Robe Sureau in red check, would go well with a red cardigan or a jacket.. (that red scarf you have there, is what made me think red will look even better with that dress))

One piece in 'signature you' style and then rest everything neutral would allow you to have your touch in your work wardrobe, and also work towards upping your wardrobe to suit work place dress code.

Emily said...

I can sympathize with your plight but I really believe there is a space between being "too" quirky in a profesional environment, and being so boring that it's just drudgery. As others have suggested, it helps to limit the quirk to one piece, and let that speak for the whole outfit. A striking blouse with plain trousers, or a dress in an eye-catching print with rather conservative shoes and sweater or jacket. This is the approach I take and it has served me very well. My colleagues are always amazed to learn that I do all my shopping at secondhand stores (I do not sew, although I wish I did).

A few "foundation" pieces like gray or brown trousers (they don't show the dog hair as much ... trust me) will take you a long way. I have learned to embrace belts and jackets as ways to instantly "smarten" up just about any outfit (trust me - it's magic).

And, I drive into work wearing my Wellies every day! It's a snap to throw a pair of flats or heels into my bag and then I don't have to worry about them being muddy etc. It is a MUST in the climate where I live.

I love to talk about this stuff and could go on at some length but I will stop. I'll just say that if you ever want a one-on-one "What do I wear to work" tutorial, let me know! I have whipped up many a Polyvore set for friends and relatives who were going through career transitions and found themselves with marginally suitable wardrobes.

Minnado said...

Fascinating stuff...I have recently been feeling my clothes are too much on the eccentric side even though I am not working at the moment. I just feel fed up with looking like an oddball at the school gate! I agree a regular hair trim and good, clean shoes work well for work and a limited amount of quirk. Also just having clean work clothes - which i am sure you do have. But I love your style...hope you don't bland out too much. :)

velosewer said...

I have a full grey, navy and black suit. That is, straight skirts, fitted pants and well fitted jackets for work. I also suppliment these with cardis in similar colours. Boring? Yes. This is the work environment I'm in.
I dress in more structured clothes than my colleagues and add colour through tops and have co-ordinated jewellery and shoe basics.
These items have helped with job interviews.
I have since sewn a few shift based dresses that I can throw a fitted jacket on.
This is all very conservative but I use colour outside the work environment.
I don't used scarfs for an accent. I keep it all very minimal.
Your style is something I enjoy very much and your new wardrobe journey is something that I look forward to following because you do such quality work.

Cathy said...

Jackets jacket jackets! I think they are instant smartness and if you think they are boring then check out Vivenne Westwood's tailoring- breathtakingly brilliant, technically highly advanced but as rule breaking as she was in the punk era!

Alessa said...

Go Roo! I'm sure you can do it without losing your quirk, and the little things that make it you. :)

acharmofmagpies said...

What a fascinating post! It is a conundrum and I too think about this but there are some great ideas above and I agree that there is a way to be stylish, professional, and true to oneself. The trick is to find the balance for you. I'm still looking for me but I've been learning a lot by examining critically the outfits of friends and colleagues who I think pull it off successfully to look for what they are doing. I work with a woman who always looks amazing. She wears classic silhouettes (pencil skirt, narrow belt, blouse with some accent like flounces or tucks, blazer or cardigan) but always I've beautiful bright colours. I am envious every day! I've figured out some of what she does and it seems like she has a couple of basic principles that she uses to get reliable good results. Perhaps analysing other can help you? Regardless I have compete faith that you'll figure this out this year and we'll get to see some great outfits.

standingonthebrink said...

If your RTW has to be ethical (mine too, now), check out People Tree. They're great for smart, work-wear-y pieces which are nothing like the boxy late-1990s trouser suits I also have no interest in. And of course their January sale is currently on so definitely now is a good time to check them out (otherwise they can be pretty dear!) Lots of lovely dresses and a couple of gorgeous woven pencil skirts? And it's all fair trade, largely organic, etc etc.

I found your blog via Lucy's - I knit but don't sew, hence my advice being shopping rather than sewing. But this was a very interesting and thought-provoking post to read as a graduate trying to figure out 'where next'!