A curated workwear wardrobe is an essential part of the modern woman’s toolkit. But how do you build a collection of clothes that are both stylish and practical?
We sat down with Charlotte Hicks, the founder of Esse Studios, a sustainable fashion brand that's all about creating timeless, versatile pieces that can be worn for years to come, to discuss the top 5 ways to elevate your workwear wardrobe. From how to select the right pieces to ways of defining your personal style, and buying responsibly. Below she shares her thoughts:
Curate the key pieces you need. Approach it as you would a capsule wardrobe and create a checklist. In this format you will be able to see what you have covered and what you may need.
“Start with the base notes - nothing is more important than a staple trouser. A pair that fits well, performs for you but most importantly makes you feel good and comfortable all day long. Next, a great tank layered with a shirt and a blazer to complete and you’re set.”
Invest in considered silhouettes and luxurious fabrications that will stand the test of time. Think silk, wool and linen.
“Fabrication and fit are paramount. Look for fabrics that are designed to perform, that are comfortable but that also keep you feeling polished. It's the subtle nuances of fit and a well considered fabrication that elevate a piece.”
Select pieces you know have the capacity to be easily styled back with each other and to be worn year round. Consider the functionality and versatility of each piece, how can that lightweight cardigan be worn as it warms up? In what ways can you style that oversized shirt to get the most wear out of it?
“Invest in a good suit. Take your time to find the right fit that makes you feel good and that works for your body. Select the right fabrication so you know there is longevity in it. The right suit you can wear back with a sneaker, a heel, a slide whatever the occasion - so you have that versatility. A blazer you can wear open and closed. Something to consider is to not be afraid to invest in something with a little texture in the fabric or even with a bit of a polished or luster finish. You can always dress down something that feels more ‘evening’, although it doesn’t always work that well the other way around if you invest in that more casual finish.”
Define your “personal style”. What are the key silhouettes, fits and fabrications you’re drawn to? How do they all work together to create a cohesive capsule wardrobe?
A great way to explore your style is to make a list of your values, favourite brands, go-to fabrications and fits and your style inspo. From those lists create a moodboard you can refer to when in a style rut and when purchasing new pieces. Think of it as your personal style guide.
“I always say, find pieces that make you feel like the best version of yourself, that allow you to feel comfortable so you can be you. Simple as that. In terms of selecting pieces: I always think it's important to find a brand, then make that brand your go to. Find a brand that doesn’t just speak to you and your values, but takes into consideration your lifestyle needs. It might be that there is an alignment in how they design, or that their fit standards align with your body shape. It could be that the rationale behind how they select their fabrics speaks to you. When things line up it just makes it easier for you to know they are your go to, year after year. You will invest in less and curate pieces that actually work for you.”
Take a considered approach to the way you consume, the brands you align with and the waste you contribute to. At The UNDONE we take pride in aligning with brands that are working to excellent ethical and production standards and encourage our community to invest in those businesses too. These brands are often producing clothing to a much higher standard, that is both durable and better for the environment.
“Think about the pieces you held onto from your mother, your father or your grandparents. Do you still have a blazer from your mum from the 70s or 80s? Now look at your wardrobe - what pieces in your wardrobe do you think you would be able to pass down and would still look good in 40 years time? Now think of all the blazers you might buy in that 40 years in your endless pursuit for the perfect one. I know it's a little more complicated than that, and our lifestyle is very different but it’s interesting to just consider in general just how much more we consume now. And really, just how much more our quality standards have reduced too.”
Need some new outfit ideas for the office? Download our Workwear Capsule and Lookbook for 52 office approved outfit ideas. Plus the 15 wardrobe essentials you need to create them. And you'll have every Monday morning sorted for a whole year. You're welcome.