PHOTOGRAPHY BY Grace Yasemin FOR OLIVIA CASHMORE
WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT
“Dressing for the studio and beyond.”
More often than not, it’s difficult for creative types to feel satisfied within the constraints of an office dress code. The phrase ‘sensible dress’ conjures images of neutral-toned blazers, circa-2011 peplum tops and kitten heel court shoes; the uniform of a feminine professional who gets the work done.
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But it’s not 2011 anymore and life’s too short for a yawn-inducing work wardrobe. Believe it or not, there are ways to look stylish while maintaining just the right amount of seriousness. Below, six Australian fashion designers give their advice on dressing (well) for an office job.
Jamie Nelson, founder of Nelson Made
Make sure your office wardrobe includes a good-quality, versatile blazer – you can throw it over anything and feel polished. I also recommend investing in well-crafted, comfortable shoes that make you feel invincible. Regardless of your look, you want to wear a pair of stunning shoes, that make you feel like you own the room!
Maddy Alexis, Junior Designer at Lee Mathews
I like to think of my work wardrobe as a bit of a uniform. It’s tonal, minimal and usually involves tailored pants and a chunky statement shoe.
I’m always reaching for black tailored pants; our Mortimer Pleat Front Pant is a staple in my wardrobe. I like to pair these with a tank or a crisp white shirt. A tailored blazer always makes me feel put together, I like these a little oversized for a less corporate look.
Liam Bowden, founder and Creative Director of Deadly Ponies
I favour a grab-and-go piece that’s functional but looks good. Leading a busy life, I think it’s important to have one seasonless wardrobe staple capable of carrying everything you need (and a few things you don’t). Mr Breton is our newest tote bag. It hits all those notes and was designed especially for the working woman, with multiple compartments and plenty of room for your tech. It’s perfect for the office.
Emily Mae Poole, founder of Studio Marlene
Dressing for the studio and beyond – for me, it’s all about that coming-together moment. I like to start with a simple baseline – a cotton top, trousers and leather shoes. Then I’ll add a pop of colour (if I’m feeling it) and accessorise. Get to know the wardrobe companions that give you a dressy edge when you need it and the pieces you reach for when you want to casual it down.
Here I’m wearing a Studio Marlene shirt in cobalt, Studio Marlene pant sample (these will be available soon), my Miu Miu bag, Prada biker boots and a pair of vintage statement earrings.
Olivia Cashmore, founder of Olivia Cashmore
We’ve turned to comfort in our wardrobes over the last few years – for obvious reasons. Tracksuits and leisurewear have become a staple. [But] as the world starts to jump back into action, I think finding the balance between casual and formal is key.
A great blazer goes a long way. A blazer – due to the way it’s constructed and detailed – adds ‘formality’ to any outfit. You can keep your outfit relatively simple… but once you add a blazer, you instantly feel put together. Oversized and boxy silhouettes are a great way to ease yourself into [professional dressing] as well!
I’ve always been a fan of relaxed yet slightly formal trousers, pared back with a crisp white T-shirt or freshly ironed shirt. [It’s] my ‘I’ve made an effort but am also comfortable’ look.
Meg Wilcher, founder of Apres Studio
Do you reach for the same, dark, boring, ‘executive-esque’, softly-tailored workwear every week? Have you lost your sparkle?
I’m here to help all of you expand the constrictive parameters to which you feel your dress code for getting work done should adhere. I always approach dressing [for work] with layers that match my mood. I want to feel supported [by my outfit] for the main task at hand. It’s always cold here in Melbourne so [I usually go] for the more-is-more approach.
Hot tips to leave you with: wear what makes you feel powerful, what you put on your body creates a feeling [and a] mood. Your energy is transferrable. Leave the people feeling inspired because you do.
Effortless-looking style can be comfortable, too. If you feel constricted and boxed in, you will approach all tasks with the same mindset. If your outfit feels mundane or boring but you have an incredible coat, shoes and bag on, I truly believe those items will take the rest of your outfit from dull to delectable.
For more on dressing for the office, head here.