By September 22, 2010 Read More →

Home working wardrobe

Home Working Wardrobe Yesterday on Twitter I was bemoaning that crushing moment of trying on mail order clothes and realising that what looked terrific on the model looks downright awful on me.

I’ve been struggling to find what I called ‘the right balance between looking convincing and not looking corporate’ when I attend events in my capacity of working from home advocate. For me one of the many pleasures of home working is not needing those boring office suits any more and I’d like to convey this more relaxed approach to work and life.

But it’s not been easy and I got to the stage earlier this year when clothes shopping lost all its pleasure and I was unable to make any decisions about what to wear, what looked good on me etc. Thank goodness for the national chains that allow no question returns!

I was rescued by my friend Marg, an artist and super-stylish dresser, who took me shopping and forced me – at my request! – to try on things I would normally never look at. Trinny and Susannah rolled into one without all the humiliating critique of figure and grabbing of body parts.

As a result I came home with more garments than I had ever bought in one go, and a transformed working wardrobe ( as well as a long linen shirt from White Stuff I couldn’t resist for day-to-day wear).

Since then I’ve been on a couple of solo shopping trips that – miracle! – have also been successful. That makes me sound like a serial shopper, but my wardrobe really had shrunk to pitiful proportions. I highly recommend an objective, well-dressed friend to act as a personal shopper.

What are your favourite tips for dressing for the part, favourite shops where you can always find the right garment, shopping strategies etc?

31 Comments on "Home working wardrobe"

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  1. Nicky Kriel says:

    I have my favourite store which is Monsoon and twice a year in their 70% off sale, I go absolutely mad and buy lots of clothes all in one go!

  2. judy says:

    That’s exactly what I’d like to do, Nicky! I’m not a great fan of clothes shopping and stocking up twice a year, even better by buying bargains, sounds perfect. Do you get invited to their sale preview? I’ve recently re-discovered Kew and I think I should get on their mailing list.

  3. Mrs Grumpy says:

    Thank you for mentioning me Judy. I loved going shopping with you. I haven’t forgotten that we are going to do another one for the autumn/winter wardrobe staples too……

  4. judy says:

    Yes, now the weather’s getting colder my wardrobe is looking a bit sketchy again. Will do a stocktake to identify gaps…well, maybe I mean identify what I do have!

  5. Ooh, I need a Mrs Grumpy in my neck of the woods! I HATE clothes shopping, and always get very frustrated. My dilemma is not to slide into the sloppy home-working clothes route, but also I live on a farm and walk the dogs etc in the mud – I usually end up changing a lot!! Great idea for the Monsoon 70% off – how do you get notified of that??

    • judy says:

      I had got to that point, Tanya, and very demoralising it is too. Living on a farm could be considered extreme home working, don’t you think?! You have a lot more things to factor in than most of us!
      Just ask about mailing lists and special shopping events next time you go into one of your favourite shops. I’m sure they’ll be only too delighted to sign you up!

  6. Anita-Clare Field says:

    Hi Judy, Excellent post.. Having lived in a pinstripe straight-jacket for most of my adult life,it’s lovely to have freedom of choice – I tend not to wear suits if I’m training, however, I do still put on a less formal suit if I am meeting clients. At home I admit to PJ’s on occasion, shhhh don’t tell anyone 😉

    • judy says:

      And it’s another fantastic metaphor from Anita-Clare – pinstripe straitjacket, I love it! From pinstripes to pyjamas, what an excellent title that would be for your autobiography.

  7. When working for a corporate company we were always told to wear a dark suit, white shirt, conservative tie, dark socks and black Oxford shoes. Anything else was frowned upon to the extent that one chap was forced to buy a whole new wardrobe from M&S having been frog-marched there by a senior manager! It was his own fault really – wearing a green suit with brown shoes made him stand out a bit.

    It made clothes shopping relatively easy but I prefer the more relaxed and friendly style I can adopt running my own business.

  8. Melanie says:

    My dress sense is definitely more casual now that I am no longer a corporate office worker. The added bonus is that I actually wear the majority of my clothes instead of the smart stuff and occasional casual at weekends. I even have taken to not blow drying and straightning my hair if I don’t have meetings with clients, my friend arrived for a girlie lunch today and said I never realised how curly your hair is. A year ago I had a blonde sharp poker straight bob, now I am a home worker I am brunette with long some might say a wind swept look! But who cares it suits my new relaxed approach to life!

    • judy says:

      Yes, I agree, it’s good to be able to buy clothes you actually want to wear, and then wear them regularly, instead of looking forward to evenings and weekends to get out of officewear.

      Does this mean your Twitter photo no longer reflects the new home working Melanie? I’ve heard from some very stylish home workers today and I’d like to start a new page – how about sending me a photo of the windswept new look?

  9. John Valentine says:

    I don’t like wearing a suit but when I’m running a networking event or meeting an important client I wear one. Simply put it’s my armour (taken from Felix Dennis – How to get rich) it’s how you are expected to look, it’s how you show you are serious about business, and it also puts me in the right frame of mind.
    Would I prefer to be able to turn up in jeans and a t shirt….maybe, but we all accept that people make their first impressions in the first 7 seconds of meeting you and until that changes then it’s best to have at least one suit for the first meeting.

    • judy says:

      Point taken – even in these laidback days of longhaired IT geeks and dressdown Friday, there are still occasions when a suit is the only option for both men and women.

      I heard somewhere that earrings and necklaces are used by women as ‘armour’. When I was a business adviser I used to wear a pair of large shield-shaped earrings when going into a tough meeting! It helped too.

  10. Emma Windsor says:

    I like to get dressed up for work. OK so I don’t wear a suit, unless I going out for a meeting, but I do like to feel like I am going to work and put on trousers, skirts, shirts and high heels! I dress in the morning and take the children off to school/childcare then I come back and I am ready to work. This way I am not inclined to start scrubbing the kitchen floor. In the beginning I used to wear jeans and trainers but I felt I would go off and do other non-work things. Putting on smart clothes puts me in the right frame of mind. I like to separate work and pleasure.

    • judy says:

      It’s so interesting to hear how different people approach home working. I’ve never heard anyone say this before, Emma, but it makes perfect sense. You must be one of the best-dressed mums at the school gates too!

  11. Rosie Smart says:

    I must confess to dressing down at home but have some a suit for when I go out to meetings. I recently wore my suit for a meeting at our county council as I wanted to make a good/professional impression and turned up to the meeting to find everyone from the county council in jeans!

    • judy says:

      Hi Rosie
      I was just going to relate my friend Marg’s similar experience, but before I could, she’s done it herself! I think it’s easy to develop a sartorial inferiority complex when you work from home and assume everyone else is the height of sophistication. As you both now know, this is obviously not the case. A good point to bear in mind when wondering what to wear.

  12. margaret says:

    I have never had to get dressed up for office work as I have always been a self-employed, work-from-home illustrator. So, as a consequence I LOVE to get sharply suited up when I do go for meetings at the publishers, how disappointed I am therefore to find most of the publishing people I go to see are very ‘dressed down’ and casual. This is a sad state of affairs, dressing up makes life more interesting AND FUN. I try to look reasonable even working at home in the studio as I do. If I happen to glance in the mirror and see myself with no lipstick, it makes me feel as drab as I look. I NEED to keep myself looking good to FEEL good. As a creative person, looking as good as I can is part of the creative process. I’d love to take you all out for a shopping trip….

    • judy says:

      ‘Sharply suited up’ – love it!

      Hey, folks, Marg has just sent me the first pic for my new super-stylish home workers page, in homage to The Sartorialist. I hope this will encourage you to snap yourselves in home working high heels, wellies, whatever, and join the gallery.

      Maybe we should team up and organise personal shopping for trendy home workers, Marg?

  13. Nicky Kriel says:

    Working from home means that sometimes I am a slob and sometimes I will dress up for no particular reason other than I want to. I think half the reason I network so much is it is a good excuse to dress up a bit!

  14. Call me old-fashioned but, like Emma, but I do like to feel like I am going to work and put on trousers, skirts, shirts and high heels! Oops sorry, my secret is out!
    I have always worn a suit, even when working at home – the kids always knew when dad was “at work”. So I still wear a suit every day and I quite often have to go out to meet people, so I am ready to go at a moment’s notice. Occasionally I leave tihe tie off though – impulsive or what?
    Psychology at work here though, I don’t feel as if i am at work without the facade.

  15. margaret says:

    hey Judy,
    Full length sartorial pic to follow, when I can choose what to wear of course,

    • judy says:

      Can’t wait to get my new page up and running. Sounds like you and Emma will be my first stylish home workers, and I hope seeing you will encourage others…

  16. John Valentine says:

    Graham, for a moment then I thought you must be a rebelious accountant leaving your tie off on some days!
    Having said that, when I trained as an accountant (98-2001) it was the height of the dot com boom, so to compete with all the trendy start ups, we were allowed (if working in the office) not to wear a suit. I didn’t see the point as the men just swapped one costume for another, from suit to chinos, boating shoes, and a casual but smart shirt.
    So being a rebel I always wore my suit. Which sort of is my point. I’m either suited and booted and business like or if I wear anything else it just looks like I’m slobbing about.
    Graham where do you get high heels from for mens feet, I’ve looked everywhere?

    • judy says:

      John and Graham, I recommend a very funny British film called Kinky Boots about a shoe factory that is saved by a transvestite’s craving for a pair of high-heeled size 10 or whatever boots. Makes a change from Hollywood-style movies and has some laugh-out-loud moments, but I don’t want to spoil it for you!
      PS Since you ask, I understand the women’s clothing chain Long Tall Sally is the place to go! We are all longing to see the finished outfit!

  17. John Valentine says:

    I’ve seen it, it is really good, well worth watching. It would make for an interesting work at home photograph! I don’t think I will be submitting one, Graham seems more of an extrovert though!

  18. Nicky Kriel says:

    Judy I won’t be submitting a photograph either! There are enough ugly photos of me on Facebook (delights of being tagged) without adding to the collection. Homewear is obviously a hot topic!

  19. judy says:

    Methinks you are too modest – you have a lovely avatar and I’d rather like to see the rest of that outfit! I’ve been meaning to take more photos for the site for ages, so this is the perfect excuse to start snapping, a la Sartorialist. (I suppose that should be au Sartorialist?)

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