Work is hard enough without your outfit getting you down as well, so what do you wear (especially during winter) when you need to look smart but just want to feel comfy? I have a three-step-plan for that!
Dressing for work during the winter months can be tricky. You often need to be smart (ish) and look put-together but it’s just so cold, dark, wet and miserable plus there’s the commute – not everyone can travel door to door in a nice warm car (I wish). And if you’re anything like me, you just want to cocoon yourself in warm layers and wear something akin to a duvet until you can be reunited with your actual bedlinen at the end of the day. What I don’t want to wear is a tight, restrictive pencil skirt with shin-numbing sheer tights and stiletto heels that can’t cope with the weather. Neither do I do top-to-toe tailoring.
So on days when I might have a meeting or want to feel a bit more professional (i.e. not in my jeans) but I don’t want to wear a suit (I don’t actually own one anyway), this outfit is the sort of thing I’d plump for at the moment. This is how I do smart casual or, more appropriately, comfy work wear.
THE SMART JOGGER
I don’t care what Karl Lagerfeld said (apparently “sweatpants are a sign of defeat”) because the elasticated waistband has been working for me since Christmas and will no doubt continue to do so, especially on days when I need to feel comfortable and relaxed. In fact I have been wearing jogging bottoms as legitimate daywear for quite some time, not so much dressed up but as intended: easy, loose and mostly with a sweatshirt and trainers. However I do think they look great with a blazer / biker jacket and boots / heels – a look now synonymous with Hush homewear. But can you really wear them for work? The answer is yes, especially since there’s been an influx of smarter jogging pants on the market lately, which don’t even look like joggers, and instead are made with luxey fabrics and expensive-looking details. The key is to avoid the obvious elasticated ankle rib or side-stripe and enjoy the concealed stretchy waistband, as I’ve done with this pair I’m wearing here. Or you know, just embrace those details and balance them with some sharper work separates and footwear. I think you can get away with a lot in the office these days and joggers are still technically trousers (as opposed to jeans).
This is one of those ‘half-way house’ sweater shirts I once blogged about here and while I know they’re not for everyone, I really like the ease (and novelty) of pulling on a combination of two garments in one swift movement (yes I am that lazy). And there’s certainly a time-saving element in not having to iron a shirt or fiddle about with buttons, no? But if you prefer a proper blouse or like a bit of shirting for the office, I think it’s nice to go for something a little more relaxed, perhaps roomy enough for a tee or thermal vest underneath and yes, definitely with a bit more personality. Look for interesting details such as dipped hems or contrast collars and cuffs. Also consider wraparound tunics and shirt dresses that are easy to team with thick tights, leather leggings or whatever feels comfy but will still give the impression of smart workwear. They’ll also look great in summer and are a cool workwear staple when the temperature (eventually) rises.
THE LUXE TRAINER
When I used to work in London, I used to hobble to work in all sorts of heels until I adopted the New York approach of commuting in my trainers and changing when I arrived at the office. Nowadays, I do the same except I often just stay in my trainers. The reality is I can’t be bothered not being able to walk fast and comfortably so I love the fact that flats / trainers are so much more interesting and acceptable these days. And yes I think you can wear trainers to work (okay there are some exceptions I’m sure) as long as you make sure they’re clean and avoid the obvious sweaty gym connotations (keeps those babies just for exercise). Leather or high quality P/U are your friends since you can easily wipe them clean but I also love some of the more luxey fabric trainers and slip-ons that are around at the moment. Look for bows, cross straps, patent, pony skin, velvet – anything that gives you all the comfort of a trainer but looks anything but.