I adore a bold statement purchase just as much as the next person, but as experience continues to teach me, you just cannot underestimate the power of a good old staple.
You may fall in love with a pair of whacky trainers or fluffy heels, or even a pair of show stopping animal print trousers, but ultimately, it’s those failsafe buys – the key pieces – that act as the glue in our wardrobes, that we will always return to, time and time again.
While good quality knitwear falls under this category for me, I find that it can be a particularly tricky category to navigate throughout winter; somewhat ironic right? The Christmas period is a time of embellishment and pageantry; one of the few times in the year when sporting chunky, colourful jumpers to work is absolutely acceptable, and even welcomed. But every year, as January lurks around the corner, I decide that it’s time to get my act together, turn it up a notch, and attempt to shift my knitwear-centred looks into the realm of ‘feminine’ and ‘put-together’.
What I’ve learned is that no matter how hard I try, I am absolutely incapable of achieving this aesthetic; I just really don’t know how people manage to look smart and polished throughout the winter months. In my experience, there seems to be a very inevitable trade-off at hand; you either look perpetually boxy and casual, or you freeze to death while looking perfectly chic. There are no two ways about it! Getting workwear right can be tricky at the best of times, not to mention throughout these earlier months, as temperatures take a plunge, and the idea of stripping off your pyjamas and even having to get dressed at all seems like a major effort.
But as my ambitious ‘new year, new me’ disposition began to kick in once again towards the end of last year, I decided to properly analyse this issue of mine in the hopes of finding a solution, as well as sharing my newfound wisdom with anyone who may also find themselves in this ‘I-can’t-make-jumpers-look-chic’ rut.
As the weather becomes bleaker, we often find our workwear wardrobes tend to mirror this and become a little more lacklustre and tired. But I’ve realised that there are a number of ways you can look smart and stylish even when you’re in hibernation mode. Firstly, colour is key! For instance, a camel-coloured cashmere jumper will instantly make you look more put together, and will never go out of style. Sticking to one colour palette from head to toe is a great way of refining and streamlining a look that could otherwise look a little clumsy, particularly when layering is involved. Think cream and camel tones, paired with a smart trench coat in a complementing hue, complete with some brown boots. You really can’t go wrong!
Number two: silhouette is everything. Polo necks are a must in the glam knitwear pursuit. A switch up in neckline styles can be enough to take an entire look from casual to elegant. Tuck a high-neck ribbed jumper into a pair of high-waisted trousers, or layer a neutral polo neck under your favourite dress and finish off the look with tights and smart ankle boots. In a similar vein, cropped crew-neck styles that hit you just below the waist are gorgeously flattering and are perfect for tucking into jeans and high-waisted skirts. Ditch the oversized boxy styles and opt for form-fitting and lightweight pieces.
Great tailoring is timeless and doesn’t discriminate by age or gender. It also doesn’t have to feel formal; think of a cropped checked suit with crisp white trainers. The key here is to simply swap out your typical blouse or shirt (which can make a suit feel even more restricted and dressy) with your favourite jumper. Not only will it make your work wardrobe feel fresh again for the winter months, but it’ll also be perfectly weather-appropriate.
Last but certainly not least, accessorising is crucial! I’ve become a huge accessories advocate over the past few years, as I’ve realised that a simple choker necklace or belt can totally transform an entire look. If you’re not too sure about a particular jumper and jeans combo, whack on a pair of gold hoop earrings, some funky stacking rings, and finish off the look with some smart patent loafers. Watch your entire outfit instantly go from bland and non-descript to perfectly post-work-drinks appropriate with only a few simple additions.
Considering that jumpers feature in 90% of our outfits for a good few months, it’s no wonder that knitwear fatigue and lack of inspiration starts to kick in at some point. Cosy, while also stylish and practical, jumpers tick so many boxes when it comes to versatility, but they can often look frumpy and too casual; perfect for a cinema outing perhaps, but not quite hitting the mark for the office. It’s not too difficult to keep the spark alive, though. All it takes is a switch up in colour palette and styling, and you’ll have a total wardrobe refresh. Luckily for us, the high street’s knitwear offering is out of this world – flattering, high-quality pieces in a huge range of colours and textures, for absolutely all shapes and sizes!