M&S: The Workwear Edit

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Photo Credit: M&S

Whether you’re starting a new job or want to start the new year with a smarter style, ensuring you have a capsule workwear wardrobe is essential for minimising the morning ‘what do I wear?!’ stress. Start by looking through you closet to see what you already have. If there are clothes you haven’t worn in the last 6 months, and that you don’t expect you will wear anytime soon, donate them to charity or deposit them at a recycling centre. Read my Christmas Clear Out post for more details on where, how and why you should recycle or resell your unwanted goods.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

The term was coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion. In terms of workwear, you would be looking at something like:

  • 1 suit
  • 1-2 skirts
  • 1-2 pairs of trousers
  • 3-4 shirts or blouses
  • 1-2 smart jumpers
  • 1-2 cardigans
  • 1-2 tailored dresses
  • 1 pair of heels
  • 1 pair of flats

Where can I shop for smart, chic workwear with minimal social and environmental impact?

Marks & Spencer is a great place to go for workwear. They offer a wide range of styles to fit all shapes and sizes. They also have a sustainability initiative in place, Plan A, to set out ethical and environmental goals. Plan A was launched in 2007 as a 100 point, 5 year plan. Having achieved their major aim of making their UK business carbon neutral, they’ve now introduced Plan A 2020. This consists of 100 new, revised and existing commitments, with the ultimate goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer. By sourcing responsibly, reducing waste and helping communities, M&S believe they can do their bit to help protect the planet.

Detailed information on M&S’s Plan A 2020, their sourcing, their farmers and their work with local communities can be found here: http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a

My guide to a capsule workwear wardrobe:

The Pencil Skirt

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I am a big fan of a pencil skirt- they look professional, yet chic and feminine. I particularly like the pocket and D-ring waistband details on the M&S military midi shown above. Remember: the fewer the better. You only need one or two pencil skirts, perhaps one black and one grey.

The Suit

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It is important to have one well-fitted, tailored suit for interviews or client meetings. I prefer a charcoal grey colour, like the M&S one pictured. The pencil skirt of this suit could also be your second skirt to wear without the jacket for less formal occasions.

The Tailored Trouser

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It is really important to take your time to find smart, tailored trousers that fit well. M&S offer a wide range of styles in various colours. I particularly like these modern slim leg trousers. Again, you only need one or two pairs. Pick quality over quantity every time.

The Shirt

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Similarly to the trousers, you want a really well-fitting shirt. This could mean adjusting the sleeve length so that it stops at your wrist. M&S again have a wide range of shirts, and even offer shirts for those with a fuller bust. I opt for simple, plain, smart shirts for a classic and timeless look. This no-peep easy to iron white shirt is designed to prevent gaping at the front. The working week is only 5 days. If you were to wear a dress one day and a jumper or blouse another one or two, you only need a maximum of three shirts for the remaining days!

The Dress

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When looking for a dress, choose a tailored pencil dress in a classic colour like black, grey or navy. This way you know you’ll wear it over and over again. Avoid trends, such as a peplum waist, that you may grow to dislike a few months later. This black v-neck structured dress is a great example of a timeless piece that looks smart yet feminine.

Here are some inspirational, smart and chic workwear looks I found on Pinterest:

 

 

 

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