The power is in the detail: corporate dress on a budget.
So you’ve moved to London? Can afford the rent? Got the job? Can’t quite afford five separate luxury suits in a week? No problem! The attention is in the detail, and the attitude.
If I have learned anything in the last year, your priority does not necessarily need to be in the shirt, but in the accessories. Namely bags, jewellery and jackets. Maybe shoes a little bit further down the line.
For a corporate professional look, remember:
- Boobs, shoulders, stomach away!
- Black, white, grey and blue are the primary colours to aim for, but depending on your company or industry you might be able to get away with some statement something i.e. shoes are a good one to test with.
- I don’t like being the person who says this, but make-up is like a warrior mask and I recommend wearing a base layer to add that extra something to your overall presentation. Even if you are behind a screen. (And to avoid questions about your health and sleep – it’s important but yes I naturally have slightly blotchy skin, k?!).
These are kind of unspoken rules which only a few companies tend to have written down so take note while you can!
What I have learned on top of this is:
- Bracelets, rings and necklaces are key. My general corporate wardrobe consists of Forever 21, New Look and a couple of old Primark pieces I intend to throw out on my next pay day. But one simple ring or bracelet and your outfit is lifted. In my repertoire I have my Pandora bracelet from my 21st, my Tiffany’s graduation bracelet and a ring from Cielle London which has been appointed my ‘power ring’. When I put this ring on and look down at it, I get an instant power boost.
- Think classic. Sure I have owned them for longer than is probably tasteful, but you really cannot go wrong with a long coat and vintage bag. Or vintage coat and a high street clutch. Whatever takes your fancy. If you can get your hands on vintage something – and no, not the kind people have pulled out of their damp basement and slapped a ‘London price’ on in Shoreditch – I tell you it works with every season. I pulled the bag in my picture from a pile of clothes in a tiny little vintage shop in Paris for €5 and it has lasted incredibly well. Other favourites include an over-sized Wrangler jacket for £18 from a shop just off Brick Lane.
- Lipstick. Now I’ve stopped wearing bold lipstick recently but depending on your industry – or the occasion – I have found that a touch of red lipstick equals instant confidence. Or a sparkly eyeshadow pencil from Charlotte Tilbury. Whatever you feel comfortable with.
- Heels. Coming from someone who has dodgy knees and is above average height I shouldn’t really be suggesting this. But sometimes it literally gives you a boost, and literally makes you feel taller. And a good pair of heels are always worth investing in. My prized heels are the ones from Lucy Choi (see below), but New Look are good if you are more interested in general comfort.
All this said, you might not be able to indulge in luxury, and that’s completely ok! That’s a little side love of mine. Saving for one luxury statement. But there are plenty of places to go that sell sparkly classics for a third of the price. Accessorize is a great contender as well as New Look and Topshop.
When starting out – or even going forward – looking the ‘London part’ does not mean you have to break the bank. While some will just love to tell you about the story of their Gucci bag, do you really think everyone actually forks out!? Your manager might wear an Armani suit, but does he also have to commute in because he can’t afford a London house?
Think tall, think courageous, think bold! That is the only real accessory you need.
Go play big!
Shoes: Lucy Choi