Before you buy another pair of shoes that are too high or too uncomfortable – invest in these four essential wardrobe pieces to always look smart and ready for business.
1. THE TWO-PIECE SUIT
I remember going into an H&M and finding a single-breasted, navy-blue blazer and a matching pair of trousers for about £40. The blazer was tailored, the material was cheap and the trousers never fit very well but the outfit was super easy to change up and update. And it looked sharp. I could wear the blazer with a button-up blouse or with a simple t-shirt. Then swap the trousers for a skirt or even wear the blazer with a dress. Ethical & sustainable workwear brands I recommend: Marks & Spencer (£), People Tree (££), Daiwear (£££), Eileen Fisher (££££).
2. PLAIN LOAFERS OR BALLET PUMPS
I deliberately ignored high-heeled shoes and boots as I do not believe that in most office situations they are practical, nor are they usually, a value for your money. I recommend sticking to the simpler, more classic designs: loafers and ballet pumps. Whichever style you choose (or maybe both), invest in two pairs. To maintain your shoes you will need to change between them each day to let them air out, which will help prevent mould and odour from developing, making your shoes last longer. I recommend the vegan shoe brand Bourgeois Boheme (££). Alternatively, try M&S (£).
3. WHITE / PIN-STRIPPED COTTON SHIRTS
Polyester blouses worn all day, especially on hot summer days, will make you sweat and cause unpleasant fragrances to develop from under your arms. Polyester will not help absorb any perspiration or allow you to dry so avoid man-made materials when choosing a blouse or a shirt. Uniqlo became my best friend when I needed simple shirts that were made from cotton. They were inexpensive, durable and quite pretty too. Pick plain colours as these will be easier to style and to accessorise. Also, they will not be slaves to changing fashion trends. Try H&M Conscious (£), Uniqlo (£), M&S (£) or People Tree (££).
4. PLAIN COAT
This may be the most expensive item you may want to invest in. A durable coat can cost anywhere from £100 to £300 or above and that’s only on the high-street! But if you live in a cold climate like I do (London is damp during winter and any drop in temperature can be felt in your bones) you will desperately need a long coat that looks smart. I recommend buying one that is a classic colour like navy, grey or black as it will not show-up stains as easily. Inspect the quality of the coat carefully, does it look like it will pick up lint easily? Pick a coat that looks durable and is stitched well from inside out -that means inspecting the stitching of the lining too. Pick one that is lined all through-out inside (some coats will only have the body lined and not the arms). Check out: M&S (£), Marvin Browne (£), Boden (££), People Tree (££) and Whistles (£££).
P.S. I recommend investing in pieces that either reflect your current colour palette or are classic colours like brown, nude, black and navy.
What did you think of my recommendations? Please leave a comment below!