Every working woman knows what a struggle it is to shrug on something halfway presentable for the office each morning. It's not simply the lack of time, it's the need for five outfits which are simultaneously suitable for office-based meetings, a lunch with clients and a boardroom presentation not to mention fashionable enough to reflect the modernity of one's ideas yet not so hip as to indicate a lack of independent thought. And, unless one is in an extremely creative industry, one is really hoping for elegant anonymity rather than a strong style statement.
Small wonder I've started to pine nostalgically for the days of school uniform. I mean, not my exact school uniform which was composed entirely from different weights and weaves of wool and, because I was educated in the dreich far north, meant we all smelt of wet sheep for nine months of the year. But ugly as it was, uniform meant not having to fret about what to wear every morning, thus freeing up one's head so it could be filled with other, more interesting, things. Ideally, I'd like to get dressed in about three minutes, with minimum fuss and without a single agony of indecision
So, I've resolved to create a workwear uniform of my own: obviously it's in fashion's default colour, black, but two pairs of well-cut trousers, two black skirts (all worn with black cashmere jerseys when cold and white shirts when, erm, less cold) and a black dress will form the daily staples and then it's down to accessories and jewellery to dial the look up from unexceptional to interesting according to what the occasion requires. Such a pared-down look relies heavily on good grooming: a decent hair-cut at the very least, and, in my opinion, on a little more thought given to one's makeup - it's not really possible to get away with a scrubbed face and a slash of bright lipstick when one's wardrobe borders on the monastic. It's also essential to invest in really good pieces - I spent a decent sum of money on a black wool trouser from Armani six years ago and they're still working as hard as they did when new, making cost per wear about tuppence ha'penny. The same is true of a great DVF wrap dress - again, six or seven years after I bought it, it's still a wardrobe staple. As the saying goes, you can have two out of three - good, cheap and quick - when it comes to workwear, go for good and quick.