I am a big believer that you should wear what makes you happy and what you feel comfortable in. I also think that the clothes you wear can contribute to your mood or frame of mind. For example if I am wearing my ‘trackies’ I feel less likely to engage with things in a progressive way. By that I mean I will probably end up pottering around the house or garden and not focus on the job in hand. Days like these can leave me feeling unproductive. When I get up on a Monday morning and want to nail the week, you are more likely to find me in a pair of jeans or a skirt and more often than not wearing a jacket. Doing my hair and make up always makes me feel way more on top of my game.
This is particularly top of mind at the moment as we find ourselves in week three of lockdown. I normally wear clothes that are appropriate to the job in hand. For example I will garden in ‘gardening clothes’, decorate in older ‘decorating clothes’, and wear gym kit to exercise in. So what is appropriate attire for lockdown living, if there is such a thing? There is a school of thought that now more than ever the clothes we wear can dictate or influence our mood. I am not saying that you can’t don luxury and stylish loungewear and not be productive. The way I am doing each day is to try and carry on as normal in the clothes department. This has seen me using the hashtag “quarantina” to document my outfit of the day. As I write this we are on day 18, and don’t worry I don’t garden or jet wash in these outfits, but they are what I put on to kick start my day, post exercise.
So where does my love of fashion come from? I started working in retail for Next, part time at first when I was studying. I got a place on their much coveted graduate scheme after Oxford Poly and was fast tracked to become a shop manager. As a manager part of remuneration was a substantial clothes allowance, so I was always dressed smartly from the current season. It was a great way to promote the clothes within the store in addition to setting an example to my shop staff. It also provided me with a very versatile work wardrobe which served me for years to come. My next job saw me working on the motor racing circuits around Europe. Always in a smart skirt and heels (so impractical if I look back on it now), then with one of the team branded racing jackets to top it off. Very smart and I have to admit to thinking I was cool too. (Pit chick not!)
My final place of work pre settling in to being a full time Mummy was in the City of London. I was working in recruitment finding temps for some of the top banks. The company was all female and the dress code was skirts NO trousers. Can you imagine that working today? Both the all female bit and the skirts only rule. There was definitely a slight competitiveness to getting dressed for work in the morning, but it was a fabulous environment to work in.
Where does the phrase ‘dress to impress’ come from? I have always thought it better to be overdressed than underdressed. If you are the only one in a skirt or a jacket and all around you are in ripped jeans don’t feel embarrassed, just own it. The great thing about wearing a jacket is you can discard it the moment you arrive. Someone recently invited me to lunch and said ‘don’t come dressed up, you always look so smart’. Red rag to a bull. I made even more effort that I might have originally! I owned it; I felt good and true to myself. I was particularly glad I did as I only knew two of the 8 people there so they met me in my normal guise. You do you boo!
When you work for a company and there is no dress code, I actually think it can be harder to work out your wardrobe. In an office with nearly all women it can become a bit of a competitive arena. There is one time I was not able to crack it. I was working part time for Burberry in their head office. Arriving on my first day having not worked in an office for 18 years, I had dressed in what I thought was a stylish and verging on trendy outfit. As I entered the lift I could have been mistaken for thinking I was on my way to a drinks party but without the invite. Backless dresses, sequins and killer heels all filled that ride to the 3rd floor. But I decided to be me and did things my way rather than try to compete. I think by this stage there was an element of being more mature too and therefore not caring as much.
One of my favourites is occasion dressing. A wedding or black tie event, I love nothing more that getting properly dressed up. The dress with the heels and the bag that all match, and all finished off with your favourite jewellery. On these occasions I always make sure I get my nails painted and my hair blow dried at the hairdressers. There has in the past been the long or short dress question, easily overcome with the wonderful maxi dress in evidence and still going strong. Personally I would choose long over short every day. It just feels that little bit more special.
Which brings me onto school uniform. Clearly there is a really good reason for it. As much as I am sure our children would have loved to have gone to school in home clothes every day of the week, uniform is a leveller and each and every child is the same. Once our children started boarding school, there was definitely a lot of clothes comparison that went on. By this I mean who wore what home clothes in their free time, and the inevitable awareness of which labels they did or didn’t have.
I grew up with two older sisters, both of whom have very different dress sense to the other. In the first few years of our lives, my mother (an amazing seamstress), made all of our clothes. She made three of everything going down in size. The only slight problem was I got to wear it the first time, then it was handed down to me twice more! Even I tired of the same garment three times over. I therefore think my style developed from wanting to be a little bit different from my sisters. However the result at that stage wasn’t a triumph as I never quite knew what to wear or how to put it together. There is a well told family story of me taking ages to come down one morning when we were going out to lunch as a family. When I did finally appear I was wearing tights, knee socks and ankle socks, all on top of one another, simply because I couldn’t decide which to wear. So I have loved clothes for a very long time and they have made up a big part of who I am today. But one thing that will never change is that I think we should dress to please, but dress to please OURSELVES!
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Thank you for reading. Stay safe. Tina x