'You have a bit more license to be creative with what you wear when you work at a fashion brand.’
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‘I buy something from ASOS every two or three days,’ admits Karen De Caux. ‘When you start working there, your wardrobe grows exponentially!’ A never-ending clothing collection: just one occupational hazard of working for the world’s most popular e-commerce site.
As Supplier Marketing Manager at ASOS’ London HQ, much of what Karen wears to work is based around her diary. ‘If I’ve got a lot on I’ll unquestionably wear trainers to make running from A to B easier. Then I think about who I’m meeting and, if it’s a specific brand, I’ll always wear something by that brand. It’s just polite.’
Thankfully, given the ‘wear what you want’ culture at the fashion brand, no number of meetings will force her into being suited and booted. ‘I don’t feel obliged to look typically smart; I’d never wear a blazer or a suit. I treat an outfit like an artwork, because it’s all about composition and playing with different textures, proportions and colours. You have a bit more license to be creative with what you wear when you work at a fashion brand.’
And it’s that creative license that’s had the biggest influence on Karen’s wardrobe during her two and a half years with the online retailer – well, that and the discount. ‘Working at ASOS has definitely given me the confidence to experiment more. I’m subconsciously inspired by everyone around me, but because everyone who works there also shops there, you quickly have to get used to everyone buying the same things.
‘Every so often there’ll be a key item that you love, but that six other people in your peripheral vision have – the red satin top I’m wearing in the shoot was one of those, but you just have to deal with it! I rarely shop elsewhere. I’ll occasionally pop to & Other Stories, Cos and maybe Liberty.’
With everyone walking around wearing whatever they please, and becoming more experimental by the day, it’s easy to assume there must be a catty side to life at the big fashion brand – sort of like the, ‘Oh my God, I love your skirt!’ scene in Mean Girls (if you don’t know, Google it). However, Karen assures us, it’s actually the opposite. ‘There’s a real compliment culture. If someone wears something cool you’ll always tell them, and if someone’s not sure about wearing a piece that’s a bit out there you’ll always encourage them.
‘Equally if you’re having an off day you can roll in wearing joggers, a T-shirt, some trainers and no make-up if you feel like it, and literally no-one judges. It’s a really nice environment.’
While off days are definitely allowed, what key piece does Karen have in her armour to ensure she can always look like she’s ‘on’, should a client meeting make joggers a less likely choice? ‘My go-to is a good jumpsuit. If I’ve got stuff to worry about during the day, I don’t want to be worrying about my outfit too, and jumpsuits are amazing for that. I probably have 10 different ones for when I don’t want to think about pairing up a top and bottoms; I’ll just chuck one on with some trainers.
‘If I’m going out after work I’ll stick some heels on and if I want to step it up a notch I’ll always wear statement jewellery. Sometimes it’s the little things that really complete a look, so I’ll go to Dominic Jones, Shaun Leane or Monica Vinader, or I’ll buy stuff on Otiumberg. I’m a bit of a tomboy, so I’m not very into dresses, but Realisation Par and Reformation do some amazing ones for when I need to dress up.’
And what about weekends – can you legitimately separate your working wardrobe from your off-duty look when you don’t even nearly have a uniform? ‘Weekends are when I’m generally in a yoga outfit or wearing comfies. I don’t wear make-up, I have my hair scraped back and it’s all about comfort. I walk around hoping that I won’t bump into anyone from work!’
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