The Daily Mail has some style rules for women at work, 2016:
Replace your droopy cardigan with a tailored jacket.
Update your scuffed handbag. They recommend something “structured” with panels of patent leather.
No scuffed shoes, trainers or flip-flops.
Avoid flashy, clanking jewellery, but don’t replace it with tiny, timid, conventional pendants and earrings.
Avoid too much animal print.
Keep updating your image, and get your teeth done.
Shoes and bags – invest in quality.
Don’t wear anything too tight (skinny jeans, or a pencil skirt that ends up as a concertina of wrinkles).
No ripped jeans.
Dark denim is classier than bleached.
Caroline Stow-Crat comments: "My 'scuffed' handbag was handmade for my grandmother and is still going strong, thank you very much. And I would ban animal print in offices – or anywhere! How about a nice velvet blazer with an antique brooch on the lapel?" She wonders when a bowtie, a perfectly normal accessory worn with men's evening dress, became a “dicky bow”? A "dicky" is a fake blouse consisting of a Mao collar and enough material to show through a V-necked jumper. It's a useful way of using up remnants, and will delude your friends that you own more blouses than you do.
In the US, people look down on jeans with rhinestones, writing or flowers on the back pockets – or without back pockets.
Two-buttoned sports jackets were naff, and “never brown in town”. (JP)
A lady would not go to a wedding in her riding clothes, and she would not go shopping in a ball gown. At a basic level, she shows her taste and decorum by dressing quietly. She does not seek to draw attention to herself through her dress. Elegance is found in understatement. A lady’s apparel should be neat and tidy. (Victorian etiquette manual)
In September 2017, John Lewis removed “boys” and “girls” labels from its children’s clothes. In response, a Catholic priest vowed never to visit the department store again, with or without a cassock. Caro wonders why small children are all dressed in pyjamas these days.
The piece of Burma jewellery worn glitteringly over one breast instead of in the centre where any sensible woman would have worn it. Or the shoes cut away so that the big toe was open to the weather. Or the clip-on ear-rings. (A character from London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins worries about his daughter’s choice of friend. The Burma company made Art Deco rhinestone brooches.)
"My dear! and got up regardless... one of those little hats with an eye-veil... three-inch diamanté heels... such bad taste with a semi-toilette... fish-net stockings and all...’ (In Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy L. Sayers, two typists speculate about an unexpected visitor to the office. Another Sayers character, Miss Murchison, wears skirts that are “the regulation four inches below the knee” – in the 20s - and “not too much face powder”.)
"You won't mind Robert not wearing evening dress," she said. "He never will if he can help it. I shall just slip on a semi-toilette myself." (All Roads Lead to Calvary, Jerome K Jerome But what was it? A more restrained kind of evening dress?)
In the 1950s and 60s, there was a type of older lady who wore hot pink lipstick, a fur coat, magnificent faux jewellery, a Chanel-style suit over a corselette, long lacquered nails and lots of rings. She walked about in a cloud of expensive perfume. She had been elegant all her life. She pretended she’d heard what you’d said, and understood what you were talking about, and laughed rather desperately. She may have thought it common to keep saying “What did you say?”, associating deafness with lower-class ailments like adenoids. EM Forster in Howard’s End calls it “degraded deafness”. Poor Jacky is always saying “What?”, but she is “not respectable”.
The Times had a field day when Pippa Middleton married a hedge fund manager. Apparently HFMs are VERY rich. But the couple are new, not old Chelsea: “Pippa is a nouveau-Chelsea girl.”
“To us Notting Hill dwellers, these ladies seem to live in a fashion time warp. ‘Frankly, Pippa often looks like she’s going to work in an office as a secretary,’ says a neighbour. ‘You have to understand that fundamentally Pippa and Kate’s style is English suburban,’ says a society friend. ‘They’re very plain and safe in their choices.’”
An interior designer speculates about the couple's new home: “There will be white sofas with pink and turquoise touches. Not too modern... Perhaps a Perspex table with some colour... There will be a Plain English kitchen and lots of Farrow & Ball."
The Times adds that “having been raised in a middle-class household”, Pippa probably won’t employ many staff, but for big dinners she may hire a sought-after Italian butler. Basically, concludes the Times, “She is a Home Counties girl at heart”. And what could be more damning?
More here, and links to the rest.