This week’s issue of Grazia has a section devoted to the modern workplace for women – along with the findings of our career survey where we questioned over 1000 women in business (and the results are fascinating), you’ll find a special fashion featured dedicated to office-wear. It’s possibly one of the trickiest tightropes to walk on a daily basis – serious dress codes call for serious action, and while the original concept of ‘power dressing’ may have passed on, there’s no denying that what you wear affects your mood, ability and progress.
According to Grazia’s survey, what you wear to the office is also key in your ambition. Eighty two per cent of women no longer feel they need to ‘power dress’ to climb the ladder. Instead, 62 per cent of working women say they feel more confident in ‘fashion forward clothes’, half always wear full make-up to work and 41 per cent wouldn’t put foot in the workplace without heels on.
Our findings show that in general women dress to impress their female work colleagues – and they notice every detail. Two thirds keep a close eye on what their female colleagues are wearing and half admit they judge female colleagues on their fashion sense. In turn, four out of 10 women say they know their female colleagues judge them on their working wardrobe. A quarter of working women say they feel less confident if female colleagues are more fashion forward than they are, and a fifth of women lack confidence if colleagues wear more expensive clothes than them.
So if you need to be strictly business at all times and want to no longer feel the pressure of the above demands - but also don’t want to leave great fashion at reception - then follow our simple rules in the gallery below.
Pick a bag that means business
Like MSGM's here - a good workwear bag is big and practical enough for toting around the essentials but gorgeous enough to cause a palpitation or two. These smart numbers will carry both laptops and other people’s envy! [Jason Lloyd Evans]
Pick up a modern power dress
Look out for classic shapes with subtle detailing like collards, pleating or folds. Floral prints are often seen as too whimsical and girlish, so look out for graphic patterns and muted tones like Roland Mouret pictured here. [Jason Lloyd Evans]
Get specs appeal
Whether you’re a seasoned optical-buying pro or taking your first foray into the world of glasses, this one small item could be worn more than anything else. Always go for anti-glare coatings on lenses, especially if you work with computers. Not only does this help with screen glare but the lens looks more natural. [Holly Fulton by Jason Lloyd Evans]
Investigate your office icons
From Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada to the more retro stylings of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl (ignore the hair), there is a bounty of inspiration to be taken from the big screen.
Improve your mood with mantra jewellery
An inscribed pendant or motif ring may stay hidden for most of the day but there’s no denying a carefully chosen piece can add a personal touch to your everyday-wear – something that isn’t easy when it comes to uniformity.
Cool commuting sneakers
It’s no mean feat to make trainers look good with opaques and a pencil skirt, but a couple of guidelines will certainly help. 1: Slim single soles separate commuting kicks from gym sneakers. 2: Make the base hue black or deep navy. Choosing a super-dark pair will look smarter with cropped trousers or bare legs in the summer, and jar less with tights in the winter. Nike’s runners and the 574 from New Balance are strides ahead in this department.
Seek out the sharp shirting experts
Menswear experts E Tautz now design for women and if a posh white shirt is your idea of ultimate luxury then you’ll love the intricate detailing and fantastic pattern cutting fashion duo Palmer//Harding put into their signature shirting, pictured here.
Go To Comfy heel HQ = M&S
M&S’s patented Insolia technology is kind to the balls of your feet, plus their heel heights and simple and practical styles fulfill all other requirements too.
There's top tailoring at Zara and The Kooples
If Savile Row is out of reach then look to Joseph for a top quality, no-fuss top trouser suit, Zara for mix’n’match tailoring and The Kooples for ultra-skinny cuts.