Office Dress: Bags

In the final in this mini series of office dress, I’ve covered suits, shoes, and now its the turn of bags.

I am a hoarder of all things, not least of handbags. I’m forever buying beautful bags and then finding that actually the one I was already using is more useful/comfortable/practical. The best solution would clearly be to use my pink Berghaus rucksack for work just I like I do in “real life”, but it doesn’t really fit in that well with my office image :)

For work I think there are some basic requirements which a bag needs. One is to be pretty spacious as I need my umbrella, wallet/phone/keys combo plus a cardigan or scarf, hairbrush, tissues, gum, lip balm and painkillers. In addition I often pack my mini flask of coffee, maybe a snack or even some lunch, maybe to drop off at the postbox, a music player, and who knows what else (knitting, notebooks, maps, assorted gadgets, penknife, kitchen sink, you get the picture). It must fit onto a shoulder or shoulders, I used to be fine with bags to hold in my hand but since having some RSI problems it isn’t comfortable. Oh and they need to shut at the top to keep the rain out!

Pretty bags are a complete non-starter, they quickly get dirty and often are designed for looks rather than strength. I’m not geeky enough for a briefcase and anyway since I don’t carry papers its completely the wrong shape. I have one I use for intervews and rectangular just isn’t useful! On dry days I have a largish turquoise coloured bag with two sections and handles long enough to put them on my shoulder and tuck the bag under my arm (just). My other favourite is a black leather (actually plastic) record bag which at least keeps most of the water out and looks good with my suit.

I am constantly changing between handbags though, and leaving things behind in the old one! It doesn’t help that I don’t dress remotely smart at weekends and there’s also a weekly office dress-down day to complicate the issue. Maybe I will just give up and go back to the rucksack – it worked when I was a student – what do you think?

Hush Puppies Hysteria

I warn you now that this article is entirely about shoes.

I love Hush Puppies. I have several pairs of them and they’ve all been fabulous! They’re pretty, practical (ish, the soles weren’t made for steep streets!), and very very comfortable.

In the last couple of years I’ve bought:

  • flip flops
  • flat office shoes with velcro strap
  • knee high boots (wedge heeled; tall and beautiful)
  • high-heeled court shoes
  • more smart middle-height heeled shoes
  • this season’s version of the flat velcro strap shoes, as mine are about to disintegrate
  • ankle-high boots

The last two I bought yesterday and today, and its starting to look like a bit of an obsession – every pair is also black! I don’t collect them or anything, I genuinely wear every pair at various times and weathers.

Am I taking this too far? Does anyone else behave in this way or have I gone mad?

Happy Holidays

Slightly late I know as its the 28th today but just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, if you like to celebrate Christmas, and general good wishes of the season if you don’t.

Santa was very good to me this year and I got a new watch (its this one, following on from my earlier rant about ladies watches), lots of nice toiletries, a beautiful casserole dish, a couple of lovely jumpers, and countless other nice things too. I’m very happy that most of the gifts I gave seemed to be well-received as well, its a nice feeling :)

Christmas Holiday To-Do List

Well, I’ve got almost ten days off from work and there’s a few things I’d like to sort out (in addition to the eating, drinking, being merry and lots of visiting I will also be doing!)

  • The comments box on this site – its tiny!
  • Upgrading Textpattern, disgracefully I haven’t done it yet!
  • Upgrading Textpattern for the woollyblanket site as well.
  • Writing some content for above site!
  • Looking at ideas for a website for my netball club. We need a news page, an events diary, a contact form, and some static pages with information and directions to venues and stuff. I haven’t found an open source (LAMP) solution that really fits the bill so all suggestions gratefully received. Its something they definitely need to be able to maintain without my assistance.
  • Choosing a new crochet project – I might even make something for myself.
  • Writing a long-planned mini-series for this site about small meals (I go home for lunch each day). Lots of search hits to this site revolve around food and I am a foodie … so I’m going to write more about food!
  • Removing the blogroll to a separate page of its own and putting in a little feed of recent comments instead … sometimes debates break out in the comments of a post long after I’ve posted it and it would be nice for people to be able to see the activity I think. Especially as most of my visitors are new and don’t see every article as it gets posted.
  • Writing the cringingly long-overdue review of Google Analytics and how I like it, that I promised ages ago.
  • Playing on Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I’m almost at the Water Temple and I can’t get enough.

Now I’ve admitted my to-do list in public, maybe that will help me to actually get started on some of it! Tell me about you, what are your plans for the festive season?

Office Dress: Suits

Suits are the friend of the office-dress-rule-constrained person. At a few places I’ve worked, its been shirt, trousers and shoes for guys, and “appropriate dress” for girls. That’s no help to anyone, its such a vague description. I want a uniform that comes in multipacks of similar pastel shades with no thought required as well!

For some reason I am significantly colder-blooded than most of my (male) colleagues. They seem to sit about in the office in shirts all year round, but after about October, I’m freezing! I’m not a big fan of knitwear as office wear – not in general, but for me personally. The soft, stretchy clothing bundles up around me and turns my curves (which never look great sitting down) into worse rolls than I really have! Jumpers and cardigans are never long enough either and they just stop at a really bad point, making me look heavier than I am.

The solution is simple: trouser suits1 are the way forward. They’re warm, comfortable, and are like wearing trousers and a coat to the office except they match. Its acceptable to wear normal t-shirts underneath a jacket. They don’t look bad with flat shoes. Actually the only downside that I can think of is that they reek slightly of power-dressing. I’m blessed with the ability to look untidy and uncoordinated in every possible situation though, so I doubt I look overdressed!

I have a series of similar black, mostly pinstriped, suits. Dorothy Perkins do a longer leg length in trousers which fits me fine. They are all machine washable and disintegrate after about two years of wearing one or two times per week each. I finally found my uniform and I’m happy … although I’m sure I would produce much better code in jeans, slippers and a pony tail :)

Does anyone else have any tips to share?

Edit: You can also read my thoughts on shoes and bags

1 Machine-washable trouser suits, to be specific.

Meme Tagged

OK, so I’ve been tagged in a post by dotjay for this meme1. The idea is that you write five thing about yourself that people probably didn’t know, and then tag five other people to do the same.

So here goes:

  • When I was twelve, I wanted to grow up to be a concert pianist.
  • I still sleep with cuddly toys, even though I’m 26 and cohabiting. At the moment I have a cuddly gibbon in my bed, he’s got long gangly arms and legs that get wrapped around everywhere but he’s fab. I also have the cuddly tux from thinkgeek that my boyfriend bought for me.
  • My first job out of university was writing football games for gameboy and something called an N-gage which seems to have sunk without trace.
  • I would like to work for myself but I secretly know that I will never do it. I tell everyone I don’t have the confidence but really its because I can’t go for more than an hour without talking.
  • I touch-type at a rate of 70wpm.

I’m not tagging anyone because it feels like a chain letter and in the same way that I read the amusing story on the letter and then delete it, I’m going to join in the game and then stop. I am not superstitious and have never been afraid to break the chain.

If anyone would like to tag themselves and join in then go for it – and add a link in the comments below!

1 I was going to write about what a meme is but actually its best if you read the wikipedia link

Worry About YouTube

I haven’t had a quote-of-the-day for a while, and I just fell across this which really made me think:

The big media companies shouldn’t worry that people will post their copyrighted material on YouTube. They should worry that people will post their own stuff on YouTube, and audiences will watch that instead.

Its from The Power of the Marginal , a long but riveting article that appeared in my RSS feed from

The point being made here is spot on. The problem with easily-available media isn’t the proliferation of existing material being accessed by people who haven’t paid for the privilege. The risk is that the “little people”, the non-corporate-financed underlings, will be able to tap into the same channels as the big guys and reach the same audiences. We live in interesting times, don’t you think?

Office Dress: Shoes

This is the first entry in a planned mini-series on the issues relating to looking presentable at work when you have to walk there. The article mostly relates to women, since I am one. When I last moved jobs I went from stepping out of my house into my car and out again in the company car park, to a half-mile walk across an exposed section of park, so I’ve had to adapt quickly.

Shoes are all about aesthetics vs. practicality. High heels look great but I’m a programmer, not a model, so I don’t feel obliged to wear high heels for work. Also since I have large feet (a UK size 7), pretty shoes just don’t end up pretty when they get to this size and flat shoes become long – like a clown’s shoes! There are some lovely shoes out there this season but many seem to be soft-soled. That’s all very well but if you actually walk places in them other than indoors, the soles wear away in no time!

Smart office shoes are often rather uncomfortable and I do walk some distance in shoes each day. I love my berghaus walking boots but can’t get away with wearing them to work. In addition I like my feet the shape they are so I won’t wear shoes that hurt.

This winter, I’m wearing these hush puppies – they’re fab!

What do you wear on your feet for work? I’ll be jealous if the answer is “slippers” ….

Edit: you can also read about suits and shoes

Cold Crisp Cotswolds

At the weekend I did a bit of a trip across the country as I was going to a party in Warwickshire (complete with ballgown and tiara – photos later if anyone sends me some). I popped down to Witney in Oxfordshire to catch up with some old friends as we lived there until about a year ago.

The weather was lovely, clear and cold but sunny, and it shows off the countryside in that area to its best advantage I think. The cotswold stone is sandy but somehow does look better in the frost so I think I was pretty lucky with that. As I was spending my last few weeks in that area of the world (we had a house near Burford), there were days of still, foggy weather where the frost seemed to condense onto the tree branches and hang there – very spooky and atmostpheric – and the conditions on Saturday reminded me of it.


We pulled out of our second sale1 yesterday. We can’t get a mortgage on this house unless we pay for more surveys, and we already know that the damp proof course has been breached and the whole house needs repointing. Spending money to prove that we can’t afford something we already can’t afford didn’t seem like a great plan so we’ve cut and run.

Feeling a bit sad about the whole thing but I’m sure its for the best. Something will turn up in the New Year I expect.

1 In case you haven’t been keeping up, you can catch up with the whole story