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4 Workwear Looks That Aren’t A Suit

For the freelancers, flexi-workers and anyone who doesn’t want to look “corporate”

Anna Saunders

Presented in partnership with Marks & Spencer Australia

Think workwear, and what springs to mind?

Pencil skirts and pinstripe suits? Suits-era Meghan Markle in high heels and mid-length hems? Brightly coloured Claire Underwood-style power dresses?

In today’s era of flexible hours and freelance life, work life has changed – and so, too, has the way we dress for it.

Here at PRIMER, Fliss and I wear a lot of hats – and handle editorial, advertising and marketing. As a result, in any given week, you might find us on set at a shoot, locked away with our laptops, meeting with advertisers or attending a beauty launch on a superyacht in Sydney Harbour. Ok, that was just once, but you get the picture: none of these scenarios scream pinstripe or pencil skirt.

“These days, everyone wants a work wardrobe that’s versatile,” confirms our stylist Lill Jenner. “One with layers, where pieces can be worn on the weekend, too.”

These days, every wants a work wardrobe that’s versatile

One woman who knows a lot about versatility is Paige Griffith-Carmichael, the marketing manager for Marks & Spencer Australia. Not only does she divide her time between Sydney and London, but her days are varied, filled with meetings with agencies, and Skype calls to the UK, not to mention time on her laptop.  “Most of the time I work from home as my office is located on the other side of the world! I love to take meetings at coffee shops or spend time at our local PR office in Sydney.”

This week we convinced Paige to play model and wear four Marks & Spencer workwear outfits that we chose for women – like us! – who need work wardrobes that don’t conform to the tired workwear trope.


The rise of slip skirts has been a boon for anyone wanting a relaxed, but polished look. “They’re so easy to wear, and so comfortable,” agrees Lill. “The slip skirt has been in fashion for a while now and it’s not going anywhere. I love the spot [pattern]. It’s a classic, like a stripe.”


On the weekend, this is a skirt that could be worn with a white t-shirt and trainers. But at work, the blazer pulls it together to create a more corporate look. “I’m a bit of a sucker for a double-breasted blazer,” says Lill. “I think they look really fashionable, and I just love the gold button detail on this one and the fact that it’s a bit over-sized.”


Lill, who is partial to a tonal look, describes layering neutrals as a “stylist’s hack” for “those mornings when you can’t pull yourself together. Wearing neutrals can make you look very polished. There’s something very sophisticated about it. The loafers are great, too.”

And, she points out, you can’t go wrong with a trench coat – and this one, which is very lightweight and completely waterproof is perfect for Autumn in Australia, when the weather’s stifling one moment and stormy the next.


Another look, another blazer. But this time the jacket’s checkered pattern elevates Paige’s otherwise-casual jeans. “It makes it a bit more fun, too. I also really like that it’s one of those pieces that really holds its shape. It has a real structure to it, which makes you look and feel quite pulled-together,” says Lill.

The shoes are a practical take on the mule trend, with a strap at the back ensuring that they stay on and remain comfortable (no matter how many street corners you’re asked to be photographed on, right Paige?).


It might not quite be winter coat weather yet, but we have our eye on this lightweight wool-blend coat (which also comes in dusty pink). “It’s a really cool shape, in that it’s quite boxy,” says Lill. “And I love a dress under a coat.”

Although this dress could easily be worn with a heel or a boot (see our choice below), the trainers make it more casual, as does the stripy top. “Sneakers are perfect for those days when you’re running between meetings, but then the coat just makes it feel polished again.”

You can shop more high-quality, versatile pieces from Marks & Spencer Australia here. 


BY Anna Saunders

Anna is the co-founder of PRIMER, and wonders whether anyone would notice if she wore Paige's entire first look

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