Two months ago, I went from office worker to self-employed. Not just any old office job, mind you, but one that involved being in and out of the fashion cupboard, days out of the office on shoots and days between the office and meetings. Nonetheless, they were always relatively structured, and there were two uncomplicated truths: I'd be seeing an office full of people, and I'd be representing a brand to the outside world. For the most part, I dressed accordingly: somewhere between remaining appropriate to the brand, a small dose of typical workwear, and a little of my own style.
The rules were never stringent, and yet to say that the thought of wearing whatever I wanted every day would be an understatement. That is until the unfailing freedom—and the complications of no-rules dressing—crippled my productivity. The plan was to work from home. I'd recently launched my own website, and my business partner was to remain in full-time employment for a few more weeks. Yet I quickly realised that it wouldn't be that simple: Most days, I found I'd have to fit working at home between important meetings with collaborators and clients, and my dream of lounging around in cashmere pants quickly faded.
I'm the kind of person who can't work productively if I'm distracted by even a moment of discomfort: heels, tight trousers and high-neck blouses are a no, no and no. Yet leggings and a cashmere jumper give me subconscious permission to put a series on in the background (subsequently becoming distracted) and curl up with a hot chocolate, ergo achieving relatively little with my working day. Plus, who has time to change from smart to couch potato after every meeting in the name of comfort? Sadly, not me. I had to find a sartorial solution.
I quickly decided that investing in a few comfortable yet relatively smart trousers was a good starting point. In a state of complete uncertainty, I looked to some of my fellow self-employed (and impossibly stylish) friends for inspiration. From my sleek Greek girl Natalia Georgala to multitalented Doina, they are a constant reminder that women wear the trousers, and they wear them well. Mercifully—and possibly not coincidentally—I went looking at a time when suiting is all the rage.
From Mango to Margiela and from J.Crew to Jacquemus, I stumbled on more great pants than I could shake my salary at. So I settled for a good variety: a black high-waisted pair for smarter days, vintage check trousers to pair with other prints and some camel wide-leg pants that were perfect for making comfortable knitwear look all grown up.
Next on my agenda was making denim look professional enough to wear to important breakfast and lunch meetings. I established years ago (whilst working in a finance office as a university student) that white shirts made me feel frumpy, so I sought inspiration from better denim wearers than myself. I've often wondered how Lucy Williams is so brilliantly smart in casual get-ups, and I found the answer in her blazer repertoire.
I'd decided on my path: I needed the sleekness of a shirt with the impact of a blazer and the comfort of a silk blouse (sitting at my home desk in a stiff shirt couldn't be less appealing) and went in search of alternatives that made me feel professional yet were in keeping with my new working-from-home wardrobe. I found the answer in a new wave of brands making clothes for women like me: Monographie, Maggie Marilyn and Rixo London are putting personality back into blouses and shirting, and they're putting the versatility back into my denim catalogue.
Where am I at now? Current status: seeking comfortable shoes that say "business woman" and can also be worn at the weekend. It's the last piece of my working-from-home wardrobe puzzle, and I've almost solved it. I hope to report back soon, but for now, shop the working-from-home essentials I think you'll need.