At work it can be easy to fall back on workwear staples that make you look smart but don't leave you feeling like you. Whether you work in the fashion industry or in Canary Wharf, what you wear to work can go a long way towards making you feel more confident. One office that shows the power of creating your own dress code—or at least adding some personality to a daily uniform—is the team at Browns.
I know it's not considered very cool to use the word "cool," but it takes a lot to omit it from a piece about the Browns team. Browns' edit is always the most adventurous and spirited—designers that are still enrolled in Central Saint Martins are placed alongside Gucci and Céline. The buyers will take a risk on sheer bodysuits made by a Brazilian designer they found on Instagram and back Loewe's next It bag. This eclectic mix is naturally reflected in how the team dresses for work each day.
Nine women from all departments met me on a rather bleak Wednesday morning in early January at the East London store—their only instruction was to wear an outfit that is representative of how they dress for work. These nine ensembles couldn't be more varied, leaving no doubt that this is a workplace where sticking to your own personal style is valued. No one is hiding behind a safe all-black "fashion" uniform here. You sense that even if they did arrive at work in the same shoes (we've all been there), they would all wear them in a completely different way anyway. Keep scrolling to see how one of London's most stylish teams dresses for work.
Yolanda Dombo, Sales Associate
On Yolanda: Vetements dress; H&M boots; Nike socks
Not many people would think of wearing a velvet backless party dress to work in the second week of January, but Yolanda shows you can make anything a Wednesday morning outfit with a pair of sports socks and boots. Yolanda is one of Browns' sales assistants, working in the men's' store on South Molton Street, and she isn't afraid of experimental styling.
"You can be really flexible with what you wear to work and do your own thing," she says. "I tend to wear about 50/50 men's and women's pieces. I love to buy printed men's shirts from the Japanese brand Wacko Maria, but then I also love wearing long netted dresses. And I will wear my Vans with anything."
If you're wondering what a product owner does, it is Cat's job to work on developing Browns' website and make sure everything is functioning correctly. "I wear a lot of colour to work and always love a bright accessory," she tells me while wearing a red Gucci polo shirt and retro flares. "Jeans, chunky knits and boots are my everyday go-tos." This season she says that the one thing she wants more than anything else is a Vampire's Wife dress—and to dress like Princess Diana.
It's not just the buying team that has an eye for amazing pieces, as Lorraine from the HR department has shoes on the brain too. It helps that she sits right next to the buyers. "This is my outfit," says Lorraine. "I always wear jeans and an oversized jumper." She mixes high-street staples with special purchases, and this season it's the Loewe basket bag that she plans on buying as soon as it arrives.
It is Hollie's job to hunt down the best shoes and handbags—you only need to look at the patchwork Reike Nen shoes on her feet to see just how good she is at this. "As a bag buyer, I change my handbag a lot," she tells me. The current bags she's loving are Wandler's Hortensia bag, Staud's net bags, Loewe's basket bag and Tara Zadeh's round bag.
As for how she advises carrying your laptop around for meetings, she is an advocate for carrying a practical tote or a men's laptop case as well as your mini showpiece bag. Naturally, Hollie invests in accessories but will spend less on knitwear as she says she has a habit of ruining jumpers.
Annabel tells me she has two outfits she wears to work that make her feel comfortable but put together — a dress worn with boots, or a T-shirt and jeans dressed up with heels. "I wear these Balenciaga boots constantly and will wear them to dress up high-street pieces. I also always have on these hoops by All Blues hoop that we stock for £275."
"I am very into tonal dressing," says Millie. "I usually wear high-waisted wide-leg trousers to work by H&M, Topshop, Reformation and then invest in pairs, like these, from Céline. In the office the one thing everyone wears is Ganni, as the dresses are such a sharp price point, and you can easily dress them up for dinner."
Costanza's role is all about discovering the next generation of design talent, and she isn't just looking for new talent from Central Saint Martins either, as she finds small brands from all over the world via Instagram. "Getting dressed is a statement of who you are and what you say," says Costanza. "I really love wearing menswear, and it is part of my job to scout genderless brands. I'll wear knitwear and shirts, a lot of streetwear and oversized looks."
"I wear these Céline trainers almost every day," self-confessed trainer geek Suzy says. "I usually wear them with black jeans and a big jumper. Black is my colour. I mainly like to be comfortable around the office." After a minute of talking about clothes with Suzy, it is clear she is a knitwear obsessive, and she says Céline, Helmut Lang, Theory and Acne are her favourite brands.
So what do you see the most in the Browns office? "Black hoodies have been known to take over boardrooms and there are daily sightings of Gucci logo tees, but you’re most likely to see the Browns office blurring the gender boundaries," editor Sarah explains. As for what most people are buying for the new season, she adds: "I can’t speak for everyone, but the Balenciaga Triple S sneakers might be breaking a few hearts and bank balances."
When it comes to her own wardrobe, Sarah says she has a habit of pressing the snooze button in the morning, so tends to lean on black, white, grey and navy staples to give her extra sleep. "The Wright Le Chaplain collection, (and more specifically, the pinstriped navy jacket) is going to be the key to avoiding floordrobe meltdowns!"