Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Back to Reality?

So, this week saw one of those unsettling life events for me, the return to work after more than a little time off. 

Two years as a fashion student have come to an end (for now) and the public servant is back in the office. 
Well actually, it should have happened a few months ago but life came up with one of those blips that turned me from student to patient before I was quite finished being a student!

Now I won’t lie, despite my gratitude for having a job to return to during difficult times, my motivation seems to have taken extended leave.  As a result I’m looking for every little coping mechanism to get me through the first week in one piece. 

I’ve seen some great pieces online giving tips and advice on returning to work after maternity leave. I can’t even begin to imagine that struggle of leaving a child at home and adjusting to working life at the same time. That must take some serious self discipline!

Anyway, I’ve decided I’d share my thoughts for those non-parents amongst us who return to work after any other kind of absence. 

1). First and foremost, as a pre-return motivator you can’t beat a work wardrobe update.  Mine was somewhat forced upon me due to a change in clothes sizes, but that’s a whole other story.  I didn’t need much persuasion all the same.  

It’s a tough one this, if you’ve been on unpaid leave for a while, but you know there’s always the old reliable Penneys/Primark. I picked up a few pieces to keep me going for a while; some new collar-less shirts, Breton stripe top, a burgundy blazer, some printed trousers and a few cheap and cheerful neckerchiefs.  
Accessories are great for creating some new outfits on a budget, I just mix them with my existing wardrobe and everyone asks if I’ve been shopping.  
And who doesn’t get a little lift from a new outfit?

2). Leave work at work. One big advantage of working over studying is the lack of homework to bring with you, and more chill out time at home.  Feels a little odd at the beginning but sure we can all find some way to spend those extra few hours.  
I try to start the switching-off process as soon as I walk out the front door – into the car, radio on as-loud-as-you-like, and off I go, whether to home, or the gym or wherever. The traffic is one thing I had forgotten about until I found myself sitting in it on the first day, but not much we can do about that one. Just turn up  the music and ignore all those professionals in their bigger-than-ours cars with steam out their ears. 

3). Once in the front door then, first stop kettle, second a wardrobe change, to clear the mind along with the office clothes. So far it’s been the slouchy (pink) sweatshirt and track bottoms for me, not necessarily stylish but wow is it comfy.  I did match the trainers to the sweatshirt if that makes it any more acceptable..?

4). The absence of the creative focus I had in college seems to be affecting me more than I expected, what with a more business like environment going on around me now.  So something creative to do at lunch or in the evening is a must, even its just browsing some magazines or watching a fashion-related TV show.  Or writing a blog about how I miss being creative. Whatever works!

5). The average office space might not be the most Instagram worthy, and mine is no different.  But there’s nothing to say it can’t be spruced up a bit with some personal touches. My 2014 calendar needs replacing for a start.  A few inspirational quotes, photos or nice stationery can help it feel less clinical and more personalised.   And don’t forget the obligatory coffee cup! My one came from Penneys/Primark as well, and I’ve still got my eye on their rose gold/marble one too. Has anyone found that yet by the way??

So these are just some small tricks that have so far helped me through the first week, no doubt I’ll be looking to amp it up a notch next week.  Of course if these don’t hit the spot, there’s always the chocolate and/or wine treat option if it comes to that. 

Has anyone else had a long time away from work?  What tricks did you use while you settled back into your routine? Please do share!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Dressed up or dressed down?

Something I've come across a lot these days, whether in magazines, facebook posts or blog articles, is the art of dressing a garment up or down. A very interesting topic for those of us on a limited budget looking to make the most of existing wardrobes. 

The part I'm not too keen on though is the notion of dressing an outfit "up with heels" or "down with flats".
Now don't get me wrong, I can appreciate a fine pair of strappy heels along with the rest of them, but for me, that's where it ends. Destined to a life in flats means my admiration extends as far as the shop displays or fellow bloggers' purchases.

This comment that frequents the fashion advice pieces often has me wondering, as a perpetual flats wearer, am I ever really "dressed up" in the eyes of the fashion elite?

Such is my reliance on flats, I've become accustomed to planning an outfit from the feet up. Does it go with the shoes I already own? Will I be able to find suitable flats in store right now? Does the outfit work without extra height added? 

Say I come across a fab pleated midi skirt - plenty of styling options, lot of choice and price points, plenty in my wardrobe to go with it. But will it work with my flats (and lack of natural height)? Invariably the answer is not what I want to hear, so back on the rail it goes. 

What about the latest jumpsuit or culotte trends? Don't even think about it...

Some would say the fashion 'rules' are made to be broken, but that can take some courage, and I can't always find enough of it!

My outfit planning saga is currently underway as I look for a special event outfit. A visit to a personal shopper out of curiosity led me back to square one really, as she presented me with just two outfits to wear with my existing shoes! Nice 'n' all as they were, I'm not one to give up quite that quickly so the search continues.
So many perfect outfits, so few shoes...

With all the pressure from the fashion industry and media these days, just how brave do we need to be to challenge the widely accepted "norm"? 

Take a fashion lookbook for example, showing the same garment with heels and flats.. which would catch your eye on first glance? 

I have to admit that even my own eyes would be reluctantly drawn to the glam heeled look, before logic and reality set in.
No, I don't understand me either. 

So where does this height obsession come from? In spite of my shoe situation, I've seldom lost all reason over a pair of flat brogues, but grant me three wishes and I'd be down to Penneys faster than you'd say patent-nude-mary-janes. 

Maybe it's one of those things I'll never fully understand, but if there are any to-die-for flat brogues/pumps/boots out there, I'd love to hear about them! 

What are your thoughts on the heels v flats issue? Is wearing heels really all it's cracked up to be? Go on, tell me what I want to hear.... :-)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Making the Papers.

Amid a busy week of assignments and deadlines, I was absolutely delighted to see my first article(s) published in the newspapers!  The articles about our "Made By Stylist" assignment and photoshoot, and our "Streetstyle" assignment were featured in the Dublin and Wicklow Voice Newspapers, under "My Favourite Things". 
Not a bad week's work if we do say so ourselves :)