Finding work clothes, without shopping on the high street.

Lately I’ve had a bit of a conundrum. I have lost some weight (yay!) but that has meant I’ve had to get rid of some clothes (booo!), which obviously in turn has meant that I would need to replace these clothes, or else be left with some questionable outfits (I am currently in a position where I am more or less left with all the things I used to wear under other things). Up until about a year and a half ago, I probably would have took myself to the nearest Dorothy Perkins, but since discovering Philip Greens tax avoiding schemes, I now absolutely refuse to shop at anything in Arcadia Group, which takes up a fair proportion of the highstreet. If I was of less morals,  and didn’t mind my clothes falling apart after two wears, I’d probably take myself down to Primark. But I’m not one for singling out shops, I’m pretty sure if I looked into the other high street shops with any amount of scrutiny I would no doubt find things I don’t like about them either, so I like to try and avoid the highstreet altogether, when possible.

I’ll be honest, against my better judgement, and with time absolutely not on my side (something desperately needed when shopping online and buying handmade) I tried Next, and H&M. Found nothing. On the one hand I was kinda gutted cos I had a pretty important work conference coming up the next day and really could have done with something a bit smarter than my usual work clobber. But on the other hand, there was a little part of me that was kinda glad I hadn’t been able to part with my money and support the corporate monsters that litter our highstreets selling Made in China garments for either pittance, or poorly made tat at ridiculously marked up coinage.

So I came home, in a state of limbo, had a quick rummage around my fabric, found I had some fabric I could have made up into a skirt, but when I really thought about it, I knew full well what would happen. I would begin the skirt in good spirits. Then I would get increasingly frustrated as time went on, knowing I had one evening to do it, and still had to do all my packing. Then, due to frustration and the want to finish quickly, I would mess it up. I’d sew through a bit that wasn’t meant to be sewn, or I’d do a wonky seam, and then rip the fabric trying to remedy the wonky stitching. I knew I could do without the stress. So I sucked it up, decided what I usually wear for work would be quite acceptable and thought if anyone seriously had a problem with it then I could certainly hold my own against them! “I’m a graphic designer, we’re creative souls, you can’t put me in a suit, I’ll die” , or something like that…

Obviously nobody batted an eyelid at the fact I was wearing a floral skirt, black top and mary jane style shoes amongst the sea of suits and loafers, at least, I don’t think they did. I was left wondering however, what options are out there for those of us who do not wish to shop on the highstreet, at least as much as we can avoid it anyway, but need to look smart for work. Work clothing seems something not very vastly catered for on sites such as Folksy and Etsy. I guess a good old tailor would be an option, but I’m not looking for a proper suit, just something smart enough for sitting at my desk, not facing any customers, with a little quirkyness so I don’t feel like I am a corporate zombie. So I’ve done a bit of searching and come up with what I can, but what I would really love is for you guys to leave some links in the comments to handmade work clothing you have found! That would be marvellous! The things I’m finding tend to be a bit out of the price range I would be willing to go to for work stuff, perhaps you have some ethical options I don’t know about?!

Bright pink handmade pencil skirt

Handmade smart orange trousers

Handmade wide leg smart work pants

Black handmade office dress

Purple handmade work dress

Handmade monochrome blouse

So what do you think of the options I have found?! Personally I would wear them all and think they’re all awesome, but then I would! Please do share your work clothing related finds in the comments, lets all give each other a little help in finding some ethical, well made, quirky, different, unique and damn right amazing work clothes that will have the suits running in fear!

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  1. Nice article! I am a charity shop person, love recycled or even upcycled clothes. Love the clothes here EXCEPT for that first image, that pink skirt is appalling, badly made and badly fitting. Surprised you liked that, but then I suppose there are many different tastes!

    • Yes I think the pink skirt may well split to audience in two! Love or hate kinda item, I think it does look a bit odd fitting because of the detail on the hip, and I’m sure it would be one of those things that looks terrible on me, but it’s got people talking hehe!

  2. Excellent post – and what a conundrum!

    I avoid MOST of the high street but more for cash flow reasons than ethical if I’m 100% honest – though it does give me that same little thrill you described.

    Saying that, if not rescued from a charity shop and altered at my sewing machine in some way, my clothes are all from asda or TKMaxx!

    I can’t think of anything off the top of my head but you’ve definitely got me thinking – and I’ll hook up with a post on this subject later on this week!

    • Altering clothes is one thing I haven’t had much practice at to be honest, I need to get better at that, but then I kinda have an excuse for buying new things if I can’t take the old things in 😉

  3. I’m a make do & mend kinda girl so I tend to whip out the sewing machine & alter what I’ve got or make it in to something else.

    Worth a look for vintage style dresses :

    I just started following you after seeing a link on Craft Blog UK FB page this morning, looking forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

    • Hi there! Oh thank you so much for following me, it’s much appreciated! I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to say pretty soon hehe! The website you linked to has some FAB dresses things, LOVE it, thank you! xxx

  4. Great post Linzi – so many of my clothes come from my sister, I like to have a look before she takes them to the charity shop – she’s always trying to make space for new stuff so there’s some good stuff! 😉

    x Hilary

    • Thank you Hilary! I have an older sister that you think would be great from getting cast offs from, but shes 15 years older than me and about 8 inches shorter so that hasn’t quite worked out lol!


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