AW12: Work-wear essentials

You join me on a short break from having spent the past hour or so with my nose buried in my legal handbook and while I’m currently leading a double-life, as I work my last days in retail before entering into the big wide world for good. In aid of all things and combining my favourite subject, here’s my guide to your work-wear essentials for AW12.

The Classic White Blouse

The white blouse…simple yet chic. Photo courtesy of mydesignchic.com.

Nothing screams Office Chic more than a classic crisp white blouse. Short-sleeved, long-sleeved, a ruffled front, high-neck, v-neck or this season’s very on-trend pussy-bow…whichever style you choose, the white blouse should always be part of your capsule work wardrobe. Whether you want to save or splurge, from Primark and Dorothy Perkins to French Connection and Reiss, you can find one literally anywhere for any budget. From a pencil skirt to tailored trousers, the classic white blouse goes with practically anything and you can even pop it under this season’s tartan pinafore dress for a casual Friday look so you can wear it from desk to dinner.

The LBD

LK Bennett’s Jetta peplum dress is perfect for during office hours and after.

It’s the ultimate wardrobe staple and a fail-safe for those nights when you’ve exhausted all the outfits in your closet already. Dress it up, dress it down, add a statement necklace or pop colour shoes, bring in a patent belt or team with a tailored jacket…the possibilities are endless with the little black dress. Of course, there’s always your standard pin-stripe shift dress but it’s time to jazz up this season’s office LBD and what better way than to embrace the ever-popular peplum trend. If you feel too dressed up for the office, dress one down with a coloured knitted cardigan in tones of teal, charcoal or plum and that way you can maintain your professional self without looking like you might start a full-on cocktail party in reception  à la Audrey Hepburn. Leave that for another Friday, of course…

The Office Knit

Stay warm at your desk and on your latte run. Photo courtesy of Slap Company.

If you’re a bit of a chilly morsel like me, you’ll know there is nothing worse than tapping away at your computer while feeling like you’re in the middle of the Arctic circle. I’m not saying you should go forth and find the biggest cable knit jumper in H&M but think practical and chic. It’s always worth spending a bit more money on your knitwear though and look out for brands and stores that use high-quality materials such as wool or cashmere. M&S are the high street queens of cashmere knits (prices start from £69) while Hobbs have some beautiful jumpers in jewel coloured tones of mustard, teal, burnt orange and plum. Crew neck shaped cardigans look cute over a dress while waterfall and boyfriend can be paired with tailored trousers and a smart cami. Jumpers on the other hand, can be worn simply over your white classic blouse and make sure you go out of your comfort zone and ditch the neutrals for some brights during the cold winter months. When you do step out of the office, be it on your lunch run to Prêt or to the station, at least you’ll be that little bit more toasty too.

The Perfect Pumps

Next have got it spot-on with these berry suede-leather courts £42.

Now for my favourite sub-subject within my favourite subject…SHOES. As important as it is to have an array of shoes for many evening and nights out on the town occasions, your work shoes are a key part of your everyday wardrobe. Think Comfort, Style and Quality. You’re going to be wearing them for a good nine or ten hours of the day so you need to get the heel height right. As much as I love my platforms, I know it’s just not practical to get on and off public transport or go up and down flights of stairs with files in five inch heels. Opt for a more sensible three inch stiletto as kitten heels won’t bode well with your LBD and that way you’ll still feel like Carrie Bradshaw. If you’ve got the budget, try and choose high-end quality for your work shoes like leather or winter-esque suede. That way they’ll last longer and you’ll get more than your money’s worth for them. If you’re looking to save more than splurge, then Next do an absolute fantastic range of work shoes, most of which look like their designer counterparts. Again you don’t have to opt for black either, berry shades are this season’s colour and if you work in a more relaxed environment, purchase a pair of leopard print pumps…you know you want to.

The Must-have Tote

Zara’s tote bags are one of the best-sellers this season.

Last but not least, every city girl needs her own bit of work arm candy and I’m not talking about the 11.30am window cleaner. Totes are one of the best work-wear essentials because they’re stylish and practical. There’s no need to cram your filofax, ballet pumps and lunch into a dinky little shoulder bag anymore! Again, like the white blouse, tote bags can be found everywhere from high street to designer, with Zara’s bucket tote being a firm favourite amongst everyone. I personally love a tan bag and it’s warmer than your standard black number but again you’ll find one in two-tone shades or once again, those gorgeous jewel colours. A leather (or faux-leather) one is perfect for the more demure office while a patent one will take you from the office to after work drinks.

Life is about getting the right amount of balance between work and play and always bear that principle in mind when building up your work wardrobe. It doesn’t mean you have to be boring either so here are the essentials for now, I’ll be back soon with my guide to the Office Alternatives…just as soon as I’m finished swotting up. Le Geek,c’est chic!

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