I hate work clothes

Aug 29, 2008
4,639
4
I'm in my early twenties and so far have managed to get away without owning a white collared shirt or a pair of slacks, but I can't get away with it any longer! The problem is I find most work clothes kind of dull and really unflattering to my body type (flat chest, small waist, big hips, shorty). I have the impression that workwear is designed to make women look more like men at the office, but whereas a guy could wear his business clothes to a wedding or other event, a woman would never pick a suit to look her best. The only time I've ever seen a woman look dynamite in a suit was a couple seasons ago on Project Runway, and it seems like in general you need a tall model figure or a boy figure to pull this stuff off.

Anyone have suggestions on what might be flattering and ideally still youthful and not so cookie cutter? I kinda like the Rag and Bone look, but skinny pants just do not work for me. I'm also in an area where I can get away with something relatively casual . . . Would a pair of dark trouser-cut jeans be *too* casual?
 
Oct 2, 2007
849
10
Atlanta, GA
^^Jeans are too casual. Have you ever looked at VictoriasSecret.com? I am an attorney and I buy all my work clothes there. I think I look work appropriate yet fashion forward
 

mcb100

O.G.
Jan 8, 2007
4,637
527
Nowhere out of ordinary.
I second Victoriassecret.com. I've heard some people say that their quality isn't that great, but I am a VS fan and they have some really great peices for workwear. Like cute white ruffled tops and nice jackets. You never have to wear plain black pants, you could do pin strip, and there are ways to make dark wash trousers professional but I wouldn't get in the habit of wearing them a whole lot to work. Also, there are fun heels you could try that still look professional.
 

Bitten

Chic, not cheap.
O.G.
Feb 6, 2007
5,899
410
Contented
In deciding whether an outfit is 'office appropriate' always remind yourself that the two piece suit is really workplace standard for men and women - judge your planned outfit by imagining yourself giving a presentation to a room full of people wearing suits and ask yourself would you feel out of place or too casual.

The truth is, on a smaller budget it is hard to do a good suit - high street brands just don't do the suit justice and in many ways it is because the suit is the gold standard of tailoring and high street brands are geared toward making a garment to a low price. I think every working woman should have 2 suits in her wardrobe eventually, but you should try and have one custom made and it may take quite a few years of working before you can afford one. I bought my first suit after 6 years of working - it's a black crepe pants suit and cost more than any item I own. I can wear both the pants and the jacket separately if I want and together it looks brilliant.

Until you're in the zone for the suit, I'd make a list of items that suit your working environment, then another list of items that suit your personal taste and then see how well the lists match. I am short and have a petite build, with an unfortunate large bust. I am absolutely with you on the 'no button up shirts' stand. I can do neat blouses with a little detail and love a good pencil skirt. I do wear a pair of stunning black trousers (silk/wool blend is the best if you can find it - the most brilliant combination) with non matching jackets. I love a dress and longer coat combination.

It is true as you say that 'work clothes' as marketed to us by high street brands are generally uninspiring and not at all flattering. The trick I think is to find ways to pair great separates. If you don't want to do a suit jacket, throw a trench on over pants and a top and carry a collared cardigan in your bag in case you have to cover up for a meeting. If you prefer a less structured look for your clothes, try bringing in some structure with your accessories - a classic nicely detailed pump and classic bag will formalise an outfit of separates.

We spend so much time at work that it's important to make sure that your clothes make you feel confident and professional. It sounds like a lot of effort, but the thing is, once you've thought a bit about how you want to dress for work, you don't ever have to spend any time in your working day thinking 'Do I look ok in this?' You can just get on with your job ;)
 

mcb100

O.G.
Jan 8, 2007
4,637
527
Nowhere out of ordinary.
Yess, if you do end up wearing trousers of some sort to work (if it's a super casual day, and you should not make a habit of this) Express has some cute dressy black tops.
 
Dec 18, 2007
3,923
2
check out white and black. They are run by chicos but IMO they are much younger and nicer.
they have great petites and always look chic and i find most of the clothing slimming, and who doesnt love the black and white color palette?
 
Aug 29, 2008
4,639
4
Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. And Bitten, thanks for the longer-term advice. I've definitely seen the importance of custom tailoring for men, but I guess I just never thought about it for women since I don't know many who work in a business environment.
 

Snowqueen!

O.G.
May 14, 2008
654
0
The Sunshine State
Your build sounds much like mine. I am 5'4" and 120# and have a pear-shaped figure. I am former big 4 public accounting and currently work in accounting in industry. I have always had to wear more dressy business casual.

I have never been a big fan of suits and really agree with what you said about much of workwear not suiting a body such as yours or mine. Personally, I tend to wear skirts. They just work better on me and I think they are easier on most women who are bottom-heavy. I also find I have more options in skirts and can buy more edgy options in skirts than I can in pants.

I just purchased a great denim skirt from J Crew. It has a higher waist and is a dressy pencil skirt shape. I also bought the Marcella and Harlow blouses to wear with it and to dress up my jeans for dinner out with friends. I also purchased a cute flippy little skirt from Banana Republic that looks great with a red cashmere tee. For this winter, I will add tights and my fitted leather jacket to both outfits.

These are just some suggestions since you said you could still use something fairly casual.
 

claire111

Member
Sep 2, 2008
15
0
i fully agree with you, i wish we could just wear stuff that shows off our best assets i think it would help sales....i just dont think my boss would want me coming around in a bikini top haha