Back to work fashion

We're all guilty of making judgements about people based on their clothes. How you dress may be a personal thing, but have you ever thought how it comes across to other people? Before you head back into the world of work after being on maternity leave, take a look through our workwear style guide.


We've put our thinking caps on and found out what your choice in colours, silhouettes and accessories say about you and what it can portray to others in the workplace.

From the boardroom boss to the nursery teacher, we've selected a range of outfit suggestions to help you head back to work with a stylish start and big dose of confidence.

Back to work - Boardroom

Back to work - Boardroom

If you're heading back to the workplace and straight into a boardroom, you'll need to look and feel confident. Presenting a meeting can be nerve-wracking but with the right look, you can transform your mood and approachability with these simple style tips:

  • Keep colours at a minimum. If you mean business, your colours need to be neutral, yet sharp so that people focus on what you're saying rather than how bright your shirt is. if you do opt for colours, choose a jewel colour.
  • Keep the silhouette simple and sleek. This blouse is smart but with a feminine twist, and the suede pencil skirt is contemporary, looks well groomed and won't ride up like the old-fashion type. Wear the belt high at the waist to create a more 'together' look.
  • Heels should be kept at a mid-height, and to appear more approachable and on-trend, opt for heeled shoe-boots or midi-heeled courts. Skyscraping heels can be a nightmare if you're trying to concentrate on different things, plus you don't want to look like you're trying to 'power dress' as this can give out an aloof vibe.

Jewel ruffle blouse, £29.99, H&M (available in-store only, online store launching on September 16).

More like this

Black gold buckle belt, £14, Topshop.

Black patent shoe boots, £60, Monsoon.

Faux croc handbag, £69.99, River Island.

Black suede skirt, £150, French connection.

Back to work - Casual

Back to work - Casual

If you're heading back to a workplace where the dress code is casual, it's still important to keep smart while enjoying the leeway that other offices might not have. Tailored casuals are the best way to work this look, as you don't want to appear messy, despite the casual dress code. Here's how to do casual cool:

  • Oversized tailored blazers are the best way to pull together a casual look. Team it with a basic t-shirt and you have yourself the perfect combination.
  • Ruched sleeves make you seem approachable, plus it's very on-trend, so hank up the sleeves and wear with a casual ease.
  • The slouch trousers could risk looking like PJ bottoms in jersey, but because they're tailored, they look sophisticated yet laid back - perfect for casual work wear. Wear them dressed down or glammed up with heels. A versatile investment for sure.
  • By adding quirky accessories, it signifies that you have a personality and aren't afraid to try new things. This is good in any workplace, but as the attire is casual, this the perfect place to do this.
  • Choose warm hues that compliment each other. This will make complexions pop and give you an approachable feel.
  • Brogues are THE shoe for the Autum/Winter 2010/2011 as they do the job of the ballerina pump but have an edge and air of smartness to them. They can be perfectly teamed with anything, whether it be a dress, jeans or trousers.

Ruched sleeve blazer, £60, Topshop.

White t-shirt, £5, Dorothy Perkins.

Brown satchel, £28, ASOS.

Tailored harem trousers, £50, Warehouse.

Horse necklace, £17.50, Anna Lou of London (call 020 7287 6975).

Tan brogues, £62, Office.

Animal print belt, £20, CC Fashion.

Back to work - Corporate

Back to work - Corporate

Working in a corporate office needn't mean stiff trouser suits and clumpy loafers. There's a wealth of fabulous office wear available and the key is not to fall into dowdy twin-sets and treat your office clothes like second hand options. If you look and feel great, it'll increase your performance at work. Check out how to do this:

  • A fitted dress is a definite staple. Choose a neutral shade so that it's versatile and works the hardest in your wardrobe. Wear the belt around your upper waist, as this gives off the vibe that you're well organised - always a good trait to have if you're eyeing up a promotion!
  • Give your attire a colour pop. Nothing too garish, but 'happy' colours like yellow, orange and soft pinks. The perfect way to do this is through accessories or shoes. Wearing too much black or dark colours creates a subconscious protective barrier, so splashes of colour is vital for communication.
  • Layering an outfit softens the silhouette, making you more approachable and look more trustworthy.

Boat neck striped dress, £45, M&S.

Floral bag, £25, BooHoo.

Embellished cardigan, £16.99, Max C Lonson available at TK Maxx.

Yellow courts, £159, NE3 at Hobbs.

Back to work - Creative

Back to work - Creative

Working in a creative atmosphere, it's important that your talent is reflected in your physical appearance. We're not saying go to work dressed as a mad punk, but working in the creative industries does give you the freedom to express yourself like you do in your work. The key is to opt for statement pieces. Here's how:

  • Choose colours from the same tonal group that reflects your personality. Doing this will make you feel more happy and attractive, which will show in your mood and work.
  • If you're brave enough to try out the latest trend, for example the caramel leather dress, it shows that you're confident and eager to try new things.
  • Warm hues are also benefit if you have to work as a team. These will cause people to communicate with you better, which is especially important in team meetings, creative brainstorms and when pitching ideas.

Feathered shoulder cardigan, £24.99, H&M (available in-store only, online store launching on September 16).

Multi cameo necklace, £10, Topshop.

Caramel faux leather dress, £35, Next.

Mid heeled boots, £28, SoYouShoes.

Zip front bag, £28, Accessorize.

Back to work - Hands-On

Back to work - Hands-on

Being on the go all day requires comfy yet stylish wardrobe essentials. If you work in a nursery, school, anywhere busy or hands-on with people, the key is to keep it quirky and simple. Here's how:

  • Playing with colours and patterns gives your outfit a sense of humour and a lift. Surprising colour and fabric combinations give you an edge.
  • Jeggings are a must-have for those on the go. They are still smart (choose darker shades of denim) and flexible enough to let you move around with ease.
  • Keep shoes flat and comfy. Choose a quirky pair to keep your happy vibe going.
  • A big canvas bag will fit all your essentials in and is good for travelling around with as it's not too heavy.

Cote d'Azur Collar Dress Navy, £74.99, Fever.

Alphabet canvas bag, £11.50, Anna Lou of London (call 020 7287 6975).

Jeggings, £14, Peacocks.


Ballerina pumps, £30, Oasis.