The Uniform: Work heels

I was pretty clear about what I wanted for my work heels:

(1) They have to be all-leather and well-made
(2) They have to be comfortable
(3) They have to be pointy
(4) And they should be reasonably priced (i.e. within 4 figures so the Jimmy Choo Agnes or the Manolo Blahnik BB are sadly out of the question).

Most shoes I found only met one or two of the criteria. Some shoes would be comfortable and well-priced and butt-ugly (seriously, what is it with the abundance of fugly shoes?). Others would be comfortable but made of synthetic leather, while the construction of a lot of shoes would be just downright shabby. I’ve gotten so desperate that I broke my own rule: not to buy shoes from a store that doesn’t primarily sell shoes.

I have that rule because I think that shoe-making, especially high-heeled shoe-making, is not something that a clothing brand might particularly do well on or focus on. Luxury brands are probably the exception, of course, but I wouldn’t know. But I don’t really trust, say Zara, to be able to consistently make well-made, comfortable, high-quality shoes when that’s not their forte to begin with.

So it was with some reluctance that I tried looking for shoes at Massimo Dutti. Not only did it break my aforementioned rule, but MD was also on the expensive side, with items routinely costing twice as much a similar item would cost at Zara. But I was desperate and I wasn’t too optimistic that I’d find anything anyway, so I went in.

Imagine my pleasant surprise (my wallet felt otherwise of course) when I found these: The Massimo Dutti Antik Leather Court Shoe.

Massimo Dutti shoes
 And these:

Both were all-leather, interior included, perfectly pointed and juuuuuust within my budget. They were reasonably comfortable (at least from the few times I circled the store in them), too. I bought the black ones on the spot and had my parents buy me the nude ones in Spain, where Massimo Dutti is roughly 30% cheaper than in Manila (yey!).

And I have no regrets. Massimo Dutti makes great shoes. Even the patent ones, with the 90mm heel, are comfortable. Both pairs  pretty much go with everything and their classic shape means they probably will never go out of style. The only thing I would say is that I wish the black ones were just a smidgen higher. At 70mm, I do sometimes think that the height is slightly awkward (my sister calls them “starter heels”). Other than that, I think they’re pretty much perfect.

I alternate these shoes with each other and with my Anthology flats (because alternating shoes is essential to foot health!) and they are now essential parts of my self-imposed work uniform.

Not that I will be needing any new ones soon, but Massimo Dutti will now be the first place I look in case I want need shoes in the future.

Rule? What rule?

Jimmy Choo? Manolo? Who?

Okay that last one’s obviously a joke. Let’s not get too crazy over here.

Click on the pictures for their sources, if you must. But the photos are obviously stock photos from MD anyway.

The Uniform: Work

I wore a uniform to work for two years. I worked at a plant and had to wear company-issued, ill-fitting and high-waisted khaki pants, collared shirts that were only slightly less unflattering than the pants and closed shoes. Needless to say, I didn’t like my uniform and tried to minimize the times I was seen in public in it.

A few months back I moved out of the plant to our Makati offices. And yes, as shallow as it sounds, one of the things I looked forward to the most was not having to wear my uniform anymore. A few weeks in, though, I wanted my uniform back.

For the first few weeks, I found myself sitting on my bed, with closet and cabinet doors flung open, staring. I was now back to having to think about what I had to wear to work. I took for granted how easy I had it when I could dress myself while half asleep (which was the case sometimes, since I woke up at 4:30 am to go to the plant). I just had to grab a pair of pants from their pile, any of the shirts from theirs and I was good to go. Of course, that was no longer the case now.

To save myself the unnecessary stress and, also, to get myself to work just that teeny tiny bit earlier, I figured I should come up with my own uniform for work: a wardrobe that would require minimal effort in putting outfits together in the morning before work. I wouldn’t have to worry about putting together outfits half an hour before leaving the house. I’ve done the careful thinking and stressing before I’ve even bought the pieces, making sure it will fit with the look I want to achieve, and will go with multiple things that I already have. In other words, I could still be half-asleep and dress myself appropriately for work, albeit this time with more variety, and better-fitting pants.

In the two years I was at the plant, I didn’t shop for work clothes. I’ve had to overhaul my wardrobe a bit, clean out the stuff that no longer fits me either physically or style-wise (stylistically?). I’ve had to really think about what I wanted to look and dress like. I had to be careful about not buying things on a whim, like I did when I started earning money, only have to those purchases end up in the discard pile after my wardrobe clean-up. So after careful thought and consideration, this, in condensed form, is what my new work uniform looks like:

The Uniform

Pencil skirts – I bought two black ones from Zara and had our family tailor copy one of them for three more. Two of them where in basic fabrics, khaki and houndstooth-ish gray. But the third one was in a bright purple-blue tweed with green, yellow and pink threads running through.

Skinny cropped pants – I bought a pair of J. Crew Factory Winnie pants during my NYC trip, fell in love them and promptly bought two more. I’ve been looking for a similar fabric in other colors to have some made, but no luck so far.

Sweaters – Zara and Uniqlo for fitted v-neck ones, but I also have looser sweatshirt-ish ones similar to the gray one above.

Shirts – Slim fit cotton ones from The Gap and Uniqlo and flowier, looser silk ones from Massimo Dutti and Joe Fresh. Alas, Equipment is still beyond my reach.

Pointy flats and heels – The flats pictured above are J. Crew Vivs, but mine are my favorite Anthology Carnabys which pretty much look exactly the same. Massimo Dutti, surprisingly, has some well-made, comfortable and relatively affordable heels.

I will spring for something printed (dots) or with texture (like that tweed skirt) or with more color (a deep purple silk shirt from Joe Fresh) sometimes, but as you can see, almost everything is in a neutral: white, black, gray, navy, khaki (the influence of the plant?) or blush.

And because everything is in either a neutral or in a classic style or cut (or both), everything goes together. Like I used to with my plant uniform, I can pick any bottom and any top (there will be some exceptions, of course) and be good to go.

I have a uniform again.