Sometimes as a change from a suit it is nice to wear a dress to the office. Finding a dress that is suitable for a very serious and sober work environment can be quite a task if you are anything like me and feel like parting with your cash for boring clothes is a travesty. It is very hard for me to feel good in dull clothes that hide my personality rather than reflect it and my opinion is that if you don't feel good in your clothes your confidence suffers.
However, in my line of work the reality is that you need first and foremost to look smart and it is generally advisable for the sake of your career to tone down any big fashion statements you may be tempted to make in favour of cookie cutter suiting. No leather here ladies, unless we're talking shoes and bags.
Dressing for corporate offices in London can descend into a depressingly dour affair with a palette restricted to shades of blue, black and grey. I have towed the line in the past and bought boring staid suits to fit in with the status quo only to find I don't end up wearing them very much at all, precisely because I find them boring. How to strike the balance between personal style and box-fresh-fit-for-purpose boring?
Italian tailoring to the rescue! For smart work wear with a fashion forward twist that falls in the realms of office acceptable and simultaneously appeals to a love of details in clothing I love Sportmax. It's pricey but the clothes are impeccably made and they are wearable for years after buying them. Every season I stalk pieces waiting for them to go on sale. Unfortunately most sell out at full price as it is that popular.
I like this dress from their Winter 2009/2010 collection because from the front it looks very serious. Made from wool in a classic fine houndstooth check, it has figure flattering draping that is not too clingy, sharp shoulders and a high neck which lends it an almost school matronly air.
Turn around though and it lightens up with some interesting, quirky details. The coquettish contrast black silk yoke, bow tie and figure accentuating darts in contrasting thread can be hidden under a jacket if need be until after work drinks and I love the little kick pleat detail in the skirt. And for the cherry on the icing there is a small rectangular Swarvoski crystal discreetly stitched on the cuff of one sleeve.
Dress: Sportmax; Patent wedges: Zensu; Tights: Falke