Why do I ask whether the Devil in you wears Prada to work, you might ask. There was this epic movie centered around fashion called “The Devil Wears Prada” and it can be safely assumed that I got inspired by the name of the movie. But more so about some conceptual elements of the movie. They show this boss lady running a tight ship as editor in chief of a fashion magazine. They show her to be extremely disciplined, often rude, very bossy, extremely successful at work, not so much at life and with an excellent taste in fashion- but the one thing that really drew me in about her was the poise and elegance she exhibited. Much like the real life Anna Wintour of Vogue.
It makes me really happy to see a lot of working women in Pakistan making an actual effort to look poised, elegant and well put together. For the longest time, we have read this phrase “well put together”, in both young adult fiction and classic novels. It is a general presumption that looking good for work, takes a lot of effort and is an unattainable standard for everyday life. Some even call it “high maintenance”. So I have compiled this little list of things you could do to make sure you always looks “situated” as Carly Whitten from “The Other Woman” would say. Some of these tips/tricks/hacks can be classified as high maintenance but I know that deep down inside, every woman likes to rock a composed, confident and stylish look to work. It isn’t always about wearing Gucci or Prada – it is mostly about “mandatory maintenance”, little things you can add to your lifestyle to ensure you look polished and presentable at all times.
The Three Bag Rule
After a good ten years of work experience have I discovered and perfected the Three Bag Rule. There is something with women’s bags, the bigger they are the more stuff you have. And if you are anything like me, you too carry around your life in that bag. So whenever I had to go out for lunch or to a meeting outside my office, I had to either carry the whole thing or carry my phone, wallet, keys and sunglasses in my hand. Not to mention, I had to always (always, always) cut down on the stuff I could carry which for my FOMO being, was a proper irritant. To cut the story short – I was not the picture of a woman “well-put-together”. So this rule came to the rescue. Now I carry three bags (as pictured below). One large solid colored tote bag (mine is from H & M), a smaller more structured handbag ( Jafferjees) and a reasonable sized wallet (Jafferjees). The larger one houses my laptop, planner, makeup bag, tech bag, medicine bag, a book maybe or two, some stationery, jewellery bag etc.,. The smaller one just carries house keys, office keys, phones, wallet and gum and the wallet contains just the basic wallet stuff. So whenever I am headed out of office for lunch, I take the handbag. If I am on the way and need to stop over at a shop, I just carry my wallet which easily houses my phone too and other than that, I have all three. Now this, I agree, is more of a HM hack but I like it all the same.
The Mini-mergency Kit
Buy a little coin purse from a thrift market – the more antique the better – and store some mini-emergency items in there to keep in your handbag in the instance of a rainy day. Mandatory maintenance (MM) items should include a small sewing kit, a few plasters (in case of blisters or paper cuts, painkillers some bobby pins and a hair tie. A high maintenance (HM) kit can include
The Art of Minimalism in Hair and Makeup
For all the working women out there, it is perfectly alright to attempt daring hair styles and bold makeup for events/parties but my recommendation would be to stick to the style that goes with everything, takes less time to achieve and does not look over done. For me personally, during summers especially, a bun just rocks my world paired with burnt amber/orange on the eyes and a pinkish/coral nude lip. It is a plus to always use the products that you know will work with your skin/hair type. If you can spare the time to try a different look everyday – more power to you – but it is better to look presentable every day than to look like Miranda day one and like a drug peddler day two, three, four, five and six. You get the gist!
Jewels & Watches
To me personally, a dainty string of pearls around the neck, a spot of jewel bling in your ear lobe and a watch, is the ultimate girl boss style statement. It shows that you made an effort, makes you look polished and the overall look gives off a very trendy vibe. So to attain the look, you can opt for some jewels as mentioned above maybe adding in a few delicate rings, a subtle bracelet to stack with the watch or you could do all of the above for a more interesting look. None the less, this will surely make you look like you are unstoppable. As with makeup, try to reserve bolder pieces for events.
In your everyday work life, you are working in close proximity to people. Needless to say, BO is just not acceptable. So to counter that and to maintain a fresh presence, it is important to keep handy a few things including: a hand lotion, a sanitizer, a travel size bottle of dry shampoo, a few breath mints, a deodorant and a sample size of perfume. It is also important to recognize that it’s not just BO that is an immediate turn off and a true sign of lack luster hygiene, but cracked skin is equally off putting. So hydrate the skin of your hands especially in the winter time, deal with a greasy hair day with dry shampoo and fix those chapped lips with a lip balm. Oh and let’s not forget, chipped nails are the worst. So either do not paint them and if you do, keep the paint bottle with you to fix a chip. Lastly, pop in those mints and spray on some perfume to complete that squeaky clean look. Nothing beats a proper self care routine but these tips are for just one of those days.
For me, eye wear is almost as essential as jewellery when it comes to a sophisticated look. Not to mention, you do need to protect your eyes against the sun the same as your skin. It is never a good idea to compromise on the type of glass being used in your sunglasses so I recommend always opting for a brand that ensures such safety. I personally invested in three different pairs as pictured below and they work with any outfit, eastern or western.(The gold large aviators are the Quay x Desi High Keys, the black are Ray-Bans Clubmasters and the red are also reflective glass in classic Ray-Ban aviators)
If you have eye sight glasses as well, you can amp up your look by switching between frames and the colors of those frames. For instance, try the retro chunky black frames and then also thin metal gold frames in classic aviator style for a nerdy twist to your everyday look.
The Shoes you Walk In
For appearing polished and sophisticated, my all time favorite accessory is a pointy court shoe with medium or kitten heel (which ever your can carry without wobbling – I can sometimes get away with high heels). In colors you can opt for nudes, blacks and creams, neutrals that go with everything. If heels are difficult for you to carry then you can opt for a more wedge style look but any shoe that gives you just a bit of height and posture will do the trick.
Some Extra High Maintenance Tips and Tricks
If you are fortunate enough to bring your own car to work then you can easily bring an extra outfit and a pair of higher heels for when there is a wardrobe malfunction or if you have to attend a gathering right after work.
Disclaimer: You should always be confident in your own skin. Never feel pressured to do something just because the girl next door is doing it. However, if you really want something a little bit extra for your own self and it is something that makes you happy, these tips and tricks will get you there. These are my suggestions to achieve and maintain a polished look at work, any time any day. A little bit of hassle, a whole lot of hustle will get you to your goals, I like to say. So, does the devil in your wear Prada to work?