For 12 years I worked for one of the biggest employers in the UK.
We had a typical office dress code of suits most of the time, with the option for dressing down on Friday.
Coming from a fashion background into a more corporate world, I found the thought of a black suit stifling feeling that what I wear is a reflection of my personality.
I love vintage and clothing that is colourful which sometimes people dont really get.
For a few years I conformed but slowly I decided to be the real me and wear my unique fashion, which made me feel more confident resulting in doing a better job.
For those of you facing the same battle, here are some simple ways to wear your own style in a sea of suits – and believe me it wont be long before others start to join you.
1. Start slowly
The best way to introduce a new look is start slowly, as this way the gradual process of adding more vintage into your day to day look will almost go unnoticed.
Start with a vintage blouse which is often quite smart with a pussy bow neckline and matching buttons.
This could be added underneath your usual suit to add some colour or teamed up with a smart pair of trousers and slim belt.
Use dress down Friday or an evening out to test what your boss and colleagues think of your usual look and use the opportunity for something less safe than a vintage blouse.
Maybe wear a vintage jacket with a day dress so the whole look is vintage rather than just one item.
2. Choose vintage accessories
A great way to add vintage if you dont feel confident in ditching the suit yet is to use older accessories to finish your look.
Add a brooch to a lapel, an interesting belt over a dress, tie a vintage silk scarf around your neck or carry a 1960s handbag.
You will feel like a bit of you is coming through without making too much of a statement, and if you lose your nerve you can always remove them.
I remember presenting to the board in a modern skirt and top but added an eye-catching antique brooch which people complemented me on afterwards.
3. Choose vintage versions of modern styles
Another good way to wear vintage, whether it be original or reproduction is to wear the old version of what everyone else is wearing.
If the rest of the team are wearing peplum jackets, then wear an original version.
When they ditch the suit in the heat replacing it with a summer dress, wear your own vintage one.
Or wear a vintage blazer – I bet they are wearing modern versions of classic styles without even realising it.
Some vintage designs have very eye-catching patterns all over which I of course love, but this may be a step too far for a corporate office.
If you love pattern maybe choose muted colours for big designs or a small pattern in brighter colours.
You dont want to be the talk of the office for the wrong reasons.
4. Mix vintage with modern
Another way to add vintage is to team it with modern items; wear a vintage skirt with a modern knit, or a vintage jacket with a modern dress.
This may end up being your office vintage look, which may be less out there than you would usually wear but it could be a happy compromise.
Us vintage fashion lovers adore to really dress up but all that glitz and glamour maybe is a step too far for work.
Try hard to leave the sequins at home although small detailing such as a beaded collar or a piece of sparkly jewellery will be great.
4. Remember that you can still be smart
There are so many styles from the past that will work in an office environment today, from pencil skirts to tea dresses or, of course, a suit.
Vintage inspired fashion such as these designs by The House of Foxy are a great alternative too, as they have carefully studied the original patterns but recreated something new, which may be the way forward in some offices.
Try some of these key classic styles:
Wide leg trousers
The wide leg trouser became popular in the 1930s as women started to wear more casual styles for sport and leisure.
Worn high waisted, these look great with a fine knit and cropped jacket or a blouse.
The wiggle dress was made famous by Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s as its narrower hemline compared to the hips made her wiggle when she walked.
This design is still a classic shape as it is smart and often comes in muted colours.
1940s style suits
In the 1940s, fabric was rationed so suits became quite fitted in shape which is a look that works today.
Team up with a blouse and heels and no-one will even know that you are wearing vintage.
1930s style dresses
The 1930s and 1940s tea dress are another classic shape from the past that is popular today for its wearability, especially in the spring and summer.
Wear with a fine knit fitted cardigan in a matching colour and maybe add a belt.
The 1980s were known for power dressing.
While the huge shoulder pads may stand out too much in todays office, but the blouses are perfect.
5. Dont over do it
Finally, try not to over do it as you dont want to be recognised more for what you are wearing than your work achievements.
Some styles, such as a 1970s maxi dress or a 1960s mini dress can be a bit much for work, so try to stick to a classic vintage look unless your office is more relaxed with its dress code.
While I hate to tell anyone what they can or cannot wear you do need to be careful not to end up looking like Miss Moneypenny with your vintage look either, so just try to be yourself.
The most important thing is to feel comfortable and to have some fun with it.
Remember that life is too short for a boring suit.