How to go about picking out a casual work outfit

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Image from Flickr creative commons via …love Megan

Depending on where you work and the nature of your work, you may find that you have a dress code to adhere to. If you work in a high-powered professional role, it’s likely that your work ‘uniform’ will consist of a smart suit, shirt and a tie for men, whilst women may be required to wear skirt suits or smart dresses and blouses. Tradespeople on the other hand should wear heavy duty casual clothes that allow ease of movement and incorporate high visibility elements to increase health and safety. Some offices adopt a policy of smart casual dress code, meaning that employees are allowed to wear some more casual items but they have to have a smarter edge. So how do you go about picking out a casual work outfit?

As we discussed above, workwear doesn’t have to be purely smart. You’d be forgiven for assuming that work clothing is all suits and ties, but when you consider the sheer diversity of jobs and job industries, you begin to realise that just as every company is different, so differ the dress code policies. Many offices also have what’s known as ‘casual Friday’ where all employees, including management dress down in a bid to welcome the oncoming weekend.

Whilst the idea of business casual sounds appealing, it can be a little confusing for most people. Many HR managers attempt to define the rules and set boundaries about what is smart casual and what is in fact, plain casual. However, it’s not so simple, as many people’s opinion about smart casual differs. Some people find the wearing of jeans inappropriate, whereas others say that jeans are fine as long as they have no rips and are not overly baggy. There are others still who feel that smart casual is somewhere in between a full-blown suit and jeans. They say that men should be able to get away with wearing trousers or khakis and a shirt with a collar. Women on the other hand can wear trousers or a knee-length skirt and a blouse or a shirt with a collar. Jeans and athletic wear are not permitted.

It seems therefore, that there is a general lack of consensus about the notion of smart casual and that it can actually make deciding what to wear for work more problematic than having clear cut rules. Although a good indication is to see what other employees are wearing and try to match their style. Furthermore, if you find you’re receiving strange looks from the managers, it may be an indication to change your work attire.

Let’s take a look at some examples of casual business attire for men. You should always choose shirts that have collars and make sure you tuck it in to your trousers. For business casual, it’s not necessary to wear a tie. If you’re totally unsure, it’s best to play it safe and stick to a white button-down shirt, although any colour of shirt is acceptable.

When it comes to trousers, styles such as khakis, dress pants, trousers and corduroy pants are all acceptable. Jeans are generally not considered to be business casual although check with your employer if you’re unsure. It’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed, so if you’re unsure about an item of clothing, it may be safer not to wear it and stick to the safer options.

Rather than wearing a blazer, layer a jumper over the top of your shirt for a more casual look. Stick to formal work shoes in traditional black, grey or brown colours.

Okay so now we’ve covered what is appropriate for men to wear, let’s focus on the rules for casual office attire for women. For a good indication of the sorts of styles you should be wearing, take inspiration from the men. Of course, as a woman, you’ll want to distinguish yourself in a way that makes you look both stylish and feminine. Try a pair of linen pants teamed with a fitted top. Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight fitting but opt for styles that fit your form and emphasise womanly curves. In terms of shoes, black heels are an obvious yes but make sure you keep a comfy pair of flats by the side of your desk to pop on when your feet start to hurt. Ballet flats are chic yet comfortable and make an ideal choice of footwear for business casual.

The main thing to remember about smart casual dress codes is that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Oh, and if you have a client meeting, ensure you’re wearing your smartest clothes.

Quick Fixes For Simple Shoe Damage

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Image via Flickr creative commons via mlinksva

We wear our work shoes all day every day, meaning they can get worn out pretty quickly if you don’t take care of them. While it’s easy to stitch up a frayed hem or darn a hole in some socks, it’s not quite as easy when it comes to women’s shoes because of the thick materials they’re made of and their more technical construction.

Of course, instead of buying yourself a new pair of high heels you can get them repaired at a cobbler’s, but this takes time and can cost quite a lot of money for even a small job. Instead, you should think about trying to repair your shoes yourself. Your immediate thought will no doubt be that this is impossible, but you’d be surprised at what you can do yourself if you give it a go.

One of the most pesky problems for women is broken high heels. We all know that feeling when you step off a curb or into a crack in the pavement and you feel your heel breaking underneath you. But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean the end of your shoes as you can fix them.

Using a very strong glue, such as superglue or specialist shoe glue, should work to re-attach a heel, just remember to apply it evenly and so that you don’t upset the balance of the shoes. Take a look at the other heel while you’re at it – if this is starting to wobble secure it with some glue as this could prevent it from coming off completely further down the line.

Alternatively, you could find that it is the rubber on the bottom of the heel that is starting to wear away. If you have thin, pointy heels such as stilettos this will probably happen faster than if you have chunkier heels. This doesn’t mean you need a new pair of shoes, as you can fix these yourself by purchasing replacement shoe pieces from any shoe repair shop.

If you’re going to try this, it’s important that you pull off any of the original rubber that is remaining before sanding down the bottom of the shoe to ensure you have a smooth surface to which you will attach the new shoe part. All you need to do is peel the backing off the new rubber and stick it to your heel, of if the product is not self-adhesive use specialist glue.

A common problem a lot of people find during winter is that their favourite boots are no longer waterproof. All of a sudden, your feet are soaking after a walk in the rain or the snow. You can solve this problem yourself by treating the shoes with mink oil, which will not only soften the leather but make it water resistant as well. You should then treat the seams with a water repellent spray. If you do this on both the inside and outside of the boots every three weeks, you should find they keep the water our far more effectively.

Undoubtedly one of the most common problems that occurs with shoes, whether it be high heels, boots or ballet flats, is that they get worn, scratched and shabby looking. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be replaced.

If the upper material is leather, you can purchase leather lotion or wax from most shoe repair shops. This will help to shine up your shoes, as well as prevent cracking and scuffing. Using a soft cloth, you need to work the lotion into the shoes, ensuring it gets absorbed by the leather. This is then topped off with polish that matches the colour of your shoes to disguise scratches.

When cleaning suede shoes you first need to brush off the dirt using a suede brush when it has dried. You can also purchase special suede protector spray to treat your shoes and help to prevent further scuffs.

As you can see, taking care of your shoes on a regular basis will help to prevent more serious damage. But, when something does happen to your shoes, why not see if you can’t repair it yourself before rushing out to replace your favourite heels with a new pair.