Isabel Spearman is a brand and image consultant who previously worked as special adviser to Samantha Cameron at Downing Street. Each week , she offers a helping hand dissecting workwear dress codes and offering a modern take on power dressing.
To ask Isabel Spearman your workwear questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on instagram @isabelspearman
This week, she recommends a tried-and-tested approach to new year workwear...
Q: Having packed away anything that could be deemed “festive”, my work wardrobe is a bit sparse. Should I be shopping the spring trends already?
A: “New Year, new you” is a mantra we’re expected to follow as we head back to the office for 2018. The reality is, post eating your own body weight in mince pies, the last thing you feel like doing is squeezing into a slim fitting pencil dress. I think January is the hardest month of the year clothes-wise; you’re tempted to have a refresh of your wardrobe but your waistline doesn’t feel quite up to it, the days are still dark and short, and shops are a jumble of sales rails.
Jacket, £137, L.K.Bennett; dress, £79, COS
My advice is not to get stressed about the “new you” bit just yet. Stick to your favourite – and most forgiving – shapes, whether a flattering dress or slim trousers with a looser top. Particular brands excel at this smart but a bit comfy balance, and will have a good edit of sale stock and new items.
17 pieces to buy now to update your work wardrobe
ME+EM have some of the best trousers out there (some even with drawstring waists!). My favourite is the new checked pair with red stripe detail which would look great with a black or red knit, depending on how bright you’re feeling. COS is a good place to look for less fitted shapes; it doesn’t tend to do anything you’d term as “figure hugging”, which I’m always grateful for, and its prints are always unusual. Joseph is another brand that does the looser fit well, as its designs remain feminine. I’ve bought countless wardrobe staples in the Joseph sale that last year after year – this matte silk top is a great all-rounder workwear blouse.
Sweater, £88.50, Chinti & Parker; Blouse, £125, Joseph
A swingy sweater is also very flattering (and comfortable) with a slim skirt or trousers. Chinti and Parker’s charcoal merino style with its pretty ruffled collar is a lovely example.
Finally, I’m always going on about the importance of having a well-cut jacket in your wardrobe, and this is the ideal time of year to find a really good quality one in the sale. It’s also a great time to wear them, as they’ll add structure to looser tops.