Office Cinderella? Take off that jacket; your coach awaits

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The Independent Culture
How do you change a boring workaday suit into a fabulous number fit for the most glamorous of parties? Holly Davies has a few suggestions - and you don't even have to bring a complete change of clothes to the office.

The last thing you want to do at the end of a long day at work is to spend hours getting ready to go out, especially if the only changing- room available is a cramped lavatory with no room to swing a cat, let alone pull on a pair of stockings. The solution is a few extras for your existing outfit, to add in the comfort of the office.

Start with a classic, black trouser suit, perhaps worn with a blouse, or even with a polo-neck. Then pile on the glamour. That can be a problem, especially for those with shoe-string budgets and an already limited wardrobe. But here we have chosen examples of the best instant additions to a traditional working wardrobe. They are nearly all accessories, and all are affordable.

Unbutton your jacket, and take off the blouse/jumper to reveal a a sexy camisole or a beaded lace top. Kick off your low-heeled pumps in favour of some deadly, spike-heeled stilettos, or high-heeled boots. Heels will change the way you hold yourself, and alter the way you walk for the better. Wearing the right bra is important, so if you are going for a sheer top, make sure it's sexy and black.

The high street is fast becoming the haven for accessory fiends, particularly with the advent of shops such as Accessorize, which is like an Aladdin's cave of goodies. It produces and beaded bags and fake antique necklaces that are almost as divine as the Erickson Beamon designer version, but cost pounds 4.99 instead of pounds 99; slipping one around your neck will guarantee not only a point of conversation, but if you say "Yes, actually it is Erickson Beamon," no one will know - after a few drinks, anyway.

The good thing about this method of transforming an outfit is that it is hard to go wrong. It is almost impossible to over-accessorise, especially with today's teeny-weeny beaded things. Just remember to colour coordinate accessories - if the beaded necklace is claret, go for a claret bag. If in doubt stick to black, but be open to all things shimmery - the hottest trend this Christmas, along with sequins and beads which have been sewn on everything from bags to shoes, to give special appeal.

Keep an eye out for antique necklaces and bags at local antique centres. They can be picked up for as little as pounds 10. For once less really is more.