Sep 27, 2012

Work and Walk: NAILED IT

If you're like me and work in an office environment, in the city, work clothes can be a hassle. Unless you're very senior or in a very staid industry, you probably don't have to manage pantyhose (shudder), high heels, suits or full make-up, but you still need to look a bit corporate and moderately well groomed.

At the same time you probably catch public transport, which means walking a little, which means you also need to be comfortable.

In my head I have a hazy sort of ideal outfit that I call "Good To Go". The Good To Go outfit is dark trousers, a mid-season top, cross-body satchel bag and low-heeled boots or shoes. Possibly an artfully-knotted scarf or non-bulky jacket on top. It's something you can wear almost anywhere, and it is comfortable and hassle-free.  It's the kind of outfit worn by girls-on-the-run in spy movies, or hot lady cops in the better TV mini-series.  It doesn't have to be plain - it can be a sparkly top, or satiny pants - but the main requirements of Good To Go are that the outfit is streamlined, simple, stylish and walkable.

Unfortunately, though this outfit is my daily goal, I rarely come close to achieving it, due to limitations imposed by money (style is expensive) and body shape. Most days I settle for a pair of nice-looking black pants that are not too short (hard - very hard to find), a longish top and a soft jacket or cardigan. Oh, and the artfully knotted scarf.

I have three good quality bags, one of which is a cross-body satchel (though too small for everyday work use really), and the other two which are great-looking and were expensive but are not ideal designs for carrying. One is a good shape but too heavy, the other can only be looped over a wrist or carried by the handles, which gets annoying.

Shoes are tricky. In my youth I never found shoes hard. I wore what I liked and I walked everywhere. In the 80s I was a student and wore Doc Martens, brogues or flats. In the nineties I was living in Greece where appearance is everything, baby - this was my stylish phase, and I wore high-heeled ankle boots or very high platform heels, along with short skirts, slim dresses, leggings, fitted jackets and other gorgeous stuff I can no longer go near.

I never remember shoes being too uncomfortable back then. Heels were a bit, of course - but certainly not everyday flat shoes.

These days? It's IMPOSSIBLE for me to find a comfortable shoe. I think once you're past 40 no shoe is going to be totally comfortable, unless it's a runner. I'm also quite a bit heavier than I was in my youth, and I know that has an impact. But more than that, with age comes wisdom or perhaps grumpiness, and I have close to zero tolerance for sartorial discomfort as a result.

Since my accident and surgery I've been wearing casual pants and runners pretty much non-stop - that's almost 4 months - and that's been very comfortable, but I'm pretty sick of them.

This week I returned to the office for the first time in weeks, having worked mostly at home since we came back from Greece. Since I can't drive, I have had to abandon the car commute I was so fond of and return to public transport. Which I am quite enjoying, to be honest, though not loving the hour and a half the trip takes me most days.

But I am finding it seriously challenging to put work outfits together, which are also comfortable for my "walking bouts" in between buses and trains and the office.

Here's the thing:

  • I'm sick of wearing runners to work and carrying an extra bag for my work shoes.
  • I want to wear nice shoes which are also comfortable, and I don't want to break a sweat on my morning commute.
  • I want to carry ONE bag. And I don't always want that to be a giant tote or a backpack.

Another thing - and I blame my kids for this because it didn't happen before them - is that I find it very difficult to leave and arrive home carrying ONE bag. Even if I leave with one bag (e.g. having left my work shoes at the office so no need to tote them), I arrive home with two or three, by the time I've picked up emergency groceries, a schnitzel and veggies from a cafe to serve for dinner, or some, um, magazines and books (but I've cut that out now, really).

(The last 2 days I've had to stop at the quickie-mart on the way home, to pick up margarine, hair clips, lunch box snacks and the like which my organised self neglected to order from the supermarket).

Soooo.... you appreciate how difficult and unwieldy my life is, I hope.

Except today - thanks to a fortuitous combination of circumstances, I managed to achieve Good To Go.

The circumstances:

  • warm and mild weather. My favourite weather in Melbourne today: warm but not hot, mildy sunny and blowy. Perfect. No sweating, no freezing, no lugging around an umbrella or a coat
  • second day back at the office. This meant I had already lugged in my extra bag with notebooks and files from home the previous day, so I only needed one bag

The outfit:
  • slim straight black pants
  • long silky top with elbow-length sleeves
  • long, black sleeveless jackety thing (dressy, slimming, adds coverage and a little warmth)
  • taupe patent platform sandals - comfortable to walk in 
  • moderately-sized, non-heavy bag which loops comfortably over arm or shoulder, leaving other hand free for Myki card, phone or coffee cup. 
(I 'shopped my closet' and rediscovered a lovely bag which was not expensive but looks it, and which being mostly fabric is light to carry, while still being roomy [and bonus, the lining is pale caramel, making it easy to find stuff inside]).

I was going in a little late to the office after we dropped the kids at their holiday program, so Y. dropped me at the train station near his work, which is in a MUCH nicer area than where we live. There is a cafe across from the station so while I waited for my train I picked up a takeaway coffee and in my perfect outfit and large sunglasses I swanned stylishly down the street imagining I lived there and that every day I sauntered thusly across the road from my renovated Edwardian house to the train station.  I passed a boutique home furnishing shop which advertised 'Hours: 9.30 - 3.00', and I thought, Well, wouldn't that be nice.

I felt mobile, powerful, stylish and comfortable. I was Good To Go.

Now... what am I going to wear tomorrow?

Image by adamr courtesy of

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...