Darren Kennedy: Style Dilemma
Q I really love fashion, style and dressing up, especially at the weekend. I'm in quite a senior managerial role at work and, recently, I've been finding it difficult to dress so I look professional yet stylish. I'm aware I don't want to dress too sexy for the workplace either.
Susan, 31, Dublin
A When it comes to the workplace, it's all about striking the right balance between your own personal style and what's considered appropriate attire for your work environment. This is sometimes easier said than done and varies from industry to industry.
Ultimately, you have to judge it based on your specific work requirements. That said, versatile separates combined with accessories sound like your solution. Boardroom chic, as I like to think of it, is best achieved with a combination of loosely tailored jackets, skirts, shirts, trousers and heels.
Simply mixing different textures will inject panache into your work wear. For example, this grey shirt (€55) combined with a tweed skirt (€69) by Esprit hits all the right notes and is very feminine without being overtly sexy.
Equally, the loop-stitch cardi (€25) from Heatons) gives a great silhouette when nipped in at the waist with an embellished belt.
Often, accessorising basic separates with a classic handbag, skinny belt or a cuff will add the right amount of embellishment for work.
Q I've been asked on a date (which I've accepted!) by a delivery guy who has been coming to my workplace for the past year. I always dress quite conservatively and, if I'm being honest, quite boringly at work. I never imagined in a million years he'd have any interest. Our date is next week and I've no idea what to wear. I'd like something stylish, young but not too overly dressy.
Please help, I'd be eternally grateful.
Helen, 34, Mayo
A It's important that whatever you wear on the first date reflects who you are as a person, while at the same time making you feel special and good about yourself.
Obviously you want to make a good impression. Some people would say the choice is simple and that there is no substitution for an LBD (little black dress). It's hard to go wrong with a classic black shift dress, such as the one from M&S (€95).
For a more contemporary take on the LBD, alwear's black, velvet and lace dress (€40) is elegant yet sassy, with the added bonus of providing coverage for the arms. Alternatively, if you wanted to go slightly more casual, a piece such as this floral-print dress with satin belt from Mexx (€59.95), looks great paired with some colourful tights.
Either way, you don't want to give too much away on the first date, right?
Q I consider myself quite a sharp dresser and always like to look well when I'm out. I've decided I'm now over the whole jeans and blazer look — can you give me some advice to shake up my overall style?
Ben, 27, Limerick
A There are any number of directions you could go with your style. A couple of the stand-out trends at the moment in menswear include a new wave of Americana-inspired items which we've seen over the past couple of months, as well as styles reminiscent of the slopes of Aspen to the Alps. Both styles are unashamedly male and widely accessible, and there tends to be a lot of crossover, so you don't have to commit fully to any one look or style. Feel free to mix it up as you see fit.
A chunky cardigan, such as this one from Urban Outfitters (€111), will make a good substitute for a blazer on a night out. Or, add to the layers with some khaki drop-crotch jeans (Label Lab at House of Fraser has some for €71) for a very fresh, laid-back look.