Why did I never take advantage of the opportunities to dress fabulously when I worked in an office? Why did I slop around in jeans and mulchy-brown tops? Why was I not wearing obi belts and little pixie boots, trilby hats and waistcoats? Why did I never once wear red lipstick?
If the saying holds true that you should dress for the job you want not the job you have, I clearly did not want to be an ace journalist and was desperate for a career selling flowers by the side of the A40.
I remember once going to interview
Julian Clary – Julian Clary! – and he arrived wearing a crushed velvet suit and silk shirt and I felt so drab and ashamed of my dowdy clothes.
Of course, I did nothing about it and resigned the following year (nothing to do with Julian) to begin my glittering new life as a penniless freelance hack who had no money for clothes but would write in exchange for food or a compliment.
That was 12 years ago, and I often forget – usually when tipsily shopping for clothes online – that I don’t work in an office. Rightfully, the only work clothes I need are a single black trouser suit, white T-shirt
and white trainers, which I wear when I very occasionally need to interview someone in person.
And yet somehow in my wardrobe there seems to be hanger upon hanger of clothes belonging to a completely different woman, leading a life that doesn’t involve standing about watching a five-year-old boy playing football in the mud.
Long, patterned dresses; Seventies-inspired knee-high ruched boots with a heel so high I’m not sure I’ve ever left the house in them; a Prince of Wales-check blazer that is absolutely terrific and yet does not leave the wardrobe, because who am I kidding?
These are not clothes I bought when I had an office job, my friends – these are clothes bought quite recently, in full knowledge of my daily life.
Oh, the fun I would have if I still worked in an office! Along with colleagues to talk to, a proper Christmas party and free stationery, having a reason to put on smart clothes could convince me to go back to having a commute – if anyone would ask me. That’s not a hint! (It is.)
Photographer: Jonty Davies / Stylist: Chloe Forde / Make-up: Kim Jaco
Hair stylist: Ben Cook / Manicurist: Joanna Newbold