Some of us have to wear a uniform for work; it’s just a sad fact of life. While other lucky so-and-sos are trawling the racks at House of Fraser for the ultimate work wardrobe, the rest have their daily wardrobe dictated to them, and it’s rarely flattering. While others get to express themselves with cute blouses and pencil skirts, some of us have to pretend we’re back at school every morning. Fair enough, it removes that “what on earth am I going to wear today” dread, but whatever happened to individuality? Well, there are a few ways to jazz up a work uniform without breaking the rules – here’s everything you need to know.

Study the guide

Is there any room for negotiation? Could you wear your own white shirt with darting up the back to flatter your figure, or does it have to be their regulation branded shirt? Work with the rules at hand – if you have to wear scrubs or a jumpsuit, but they don’t specify the colour, choose one which flatters you, your skin tone, eye colour, and hair. Also, are you expected to buy your uniform from the company, or wash it yourself? You could be entitled to a uniform tax rebate from the government. That’ll go some way to cover the costs of all the awesome accessories you’re going to have to buy.

Get a great fit

Poorly fitting clothes are often the problem, not the clothes themselves. If you’re wearing corporate clothing, you could be stuck. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, however, you could hem your skirt or add darting to your shirt. Make sure your shirt doesn’t gape, your collar isn’t too tight, and the trousers or skirt fit. Ask your employer if you can give them a go before you take them home – they want you to look presentable after all.

Accessorise til the cows come home

It doesn’t take a genius to know that if your clothes are dictated to you on a daily basis, you express yourself using everything else you wear. Accessories are the way forward: cute velvet chokers, stacking rings, bangles, earrings – you name it. Pay attention to your dress code, find the loopholes, and make the most of them. Be sensible, though. If you’re using heavy machinery, rings and hooped earrings probably aren’t sensible – the same if you work with children. But otherwise, there is no better way to style your work uniform than with some cute accessories.

Have fun with makeup

The beauty of makeup is that the natural look can go virtually unnoticed by even the most eagle-eyed boss. There’s something really therapeutic about putting makeup on every day, and it’s easy to style it when you know exactly what you’re wearing every single day. So make the most of it, and have some fun. If you’re allowed makeup at work, this is the perfect opportunity to perfect the winged liner, experiment with lipstick colours, and have some fun. If not, it’s the perfect opportunity to perfect stealth makeup and the natural look.

Learn some crazy hairstyles

Finally, whatever happens, you’ve always got your beautiful hair. Even if you’re not allowed makeup and fun accessories are banned, you’ll always have to style your hair. So make the most of it. Learn to braid in every conceivable way. French, Dutch, fishtail – you name it! It’s a skill that will turn heads, and it’s always fun to master a new style.

Looking great in a work uniform is partly about making the most of a bad situation, but also about adding a personal touch to your look.