Why we should make the most of our workday wardrobe – and enjoy it.
Katie Trotter: On our workday wardrobes
There is something mildly depressing about the term "workwear". It belongs to the same rather silly breed of fashion idioms such as "less is more", "dress to impress", or my favourite, purely due to its utter impossibility, "red is the new black".
Now, I understand that we can't all be skating around the workplace in cherry-red high tops and "ironic tracksuits", and that we don't want to interrupt a crucial meeting about budget cuts with chat of our brand new Alexander McQueen armadillo shoes. That's a given. But that doesn't need to mean we have to stick to boxy skirt suits and a good all-rounder shoe. Whatever happened to us? Are we forgetting that we spend on average 1,960 hours a year (based on the 40-hour week) in "work clothes"? At the very least we should be enjoying them?
Let's start with throwing away nude tights or anything that hovers on the periphery. I know, I know. The new ones at Marks & Spencer's suck our tummies in and poke our bottoms out, but trust me, even the best of them make one's legs look oddly solid - like two giant pallid knitting needles. Either that or a strange plastic orange, resembling one of those girls who stand next to Lewis Hamilton on the podium.
Instead of buying the same short-waisted navy suit time after time, try some alternatives. A great way to work out the skirt or dress length that suits you is to stand in front of a mirror with a sheet. Starting at your ankle, slowly pull the sheet upwards until you reach a length that flatters you. But use your common sense. Even if you have great gams, super-short skirts should be saved for evenings out at the weekend. A few inches above the knee is plenty.
Believe it or not, the way most fashion industry professionals shop is quite sensible: they splash out on one big-ticket item per season (or, if you're feeling self-indulgent, two or three), wear the life out of it and put it away when the new season comes. This is assuming you have the basics covered. Most will go for the jacket of the season as it is the most versatile. Brushed silk is a great alternative to wool - not only is it extremely comfortable and cooler for the climate here, but it also drapes beautifully.
Large totes are always a good investment buy, which again is an argument for splashing out. However, if you are someone who gets easily bored, trawl the high street as Gap and Zara do some magnificent leather bags.
In the grand old scheme of things, we're not meant to ponder fashion too much. The problem is we want to look good and feel good at work so we can at least pretend that we are having fun, even when in reality most of us feel like we have just stubbed a toe.