It’s back to school for us today which means back to work too. We need to get back into the swing of mealtimes and bedtimes, lunch boxes and shoe polishing – all of the things that don’t seem to matter over the long summer break. I had a shock last week when I realised I only had one set of name tapes to stitch into uniform this year. I still have a large pack for each boy in my sewing box, bought in anticipation of their first school uniforms at the age of four. One set is green, one is red and the other is blue. I can’t bring myself to throw the greens and reds away but now I only need the blue. One more step along the way we go.

I used to love going back to school in September: the new form room; new teachers; new pencil case… especially the feeling of crisp new uniform. And so at this time of year I usually find myself thinking about my ‘back to work uniform.’ When I was chatting to my friends from the Over40Collective we realised that we were all in the same frame of mind. So, between us we’re pulling together some back to work looks that are versatile enough to take us from desk to dinner.

Desk to dinner the easy way

Desk to dinner (or at least drinks) is something I have to do at least once a week and I’m going to be doing it more than ever during the year ahead. Mr MC has been elected as Vice President of our region’s Chamber of Commerce. Suddenly I’m finding that my diary is peppered with events that he thinks it would be ‘useful’ for me to attend!

Going out after work isn’t too bad when you have a day in the office and can take something to change into before you leave. What I find often happens though is that I go somewhere to give a presentation or seminar with an invitation to drinks and a bite to eat immediately afterwards. So that is where my focus lies for this post: how to transform yourself magically in the loos when you have to be quick!

Dressing for work

You don’t need me to tell you how to dress for work but I’m going to go over what matters to me. For a day at my desk – or if I’m walking around tables helping people at a seminar – I like to be comfortable.

Desk to Dinner by Midlifechic

Coat; Blouse; Trousers; Shoes

You will be used to the way that I dress for the office by now. I tend to work with simple basics and then add accents of colour. Here I’ve used a wool coat and accessories in berry colours for a slightly less corporate look.

I’m wearing my top loose so that I can do things like waving my arms around when I’m talking. I’ve tied the bow at the top of the blouse so that the neckline doesn’t fall open when I lean over someone’s shoulder. The sports luxe trousers have the joy of an elasticated waist and I’ve added shoes with a low heel so that my feet won’t ache if I’m standing to give a three hour talk.

Desk to Dinner outfits - Midlifechic

Blouse; Trousers; Shoes; Leather and suede bag – available to order soon at Midlifechic!

The outfit itself is very simple but even when I take the coat off, the shoes and bag add interest. If anyone in the audience is bored by what I’m saying, at least it gives them something else to think about.

Desk to Dinner outfit for women over 40 by Midlifechic

Changing it up for dinner

The magic of this outfit lies in the detail that enables you to make it look a little more sassy. First of all, hidden in my larger bag were a pair of heels and a smaller clutch. I’ve then thrown my coat over my shoulders which has a slimming effect. This is why you so often see Instagrammers doing it.

Desk to Dinner outfit for women over 40

Coat; Blouse; Trousers; Shoes (past season); Clutch – available soon at Midlifechic

In addition I’ve tucked the shirt in to the trousers which, with the heels, helps my legs to look longer. I’ve also untied the bow of the blouse. With its hint of tux tailoring and cufflink style buttons, it transforms brilliantly for evening.


Finally I tucked my hair (which desperately needs cutting) behind my ears, added kohl to my eyes and applied a darker lipstick. The whole thing took about 3 minutes in the ladies loo. My aim is always to avoid the awkwardness of people shuffling about waiting for you outside.

Desk to Dinner

This is where I should imply that these skills have been honed throughout my long professional career. Actually they’ve probably been fine-tuned more by having a husband and three sons who take a collective five minutes getting ready to go out. They then stand at the bottom of the stairs intermittently shouting up “how much longer?”

Desk to Dinner by the Over40Collective

So, that’s my take on desk to dinner, here’s how the rest of the Over40Collective approached it.

I love the way Michelle from RetroChicMama looks as though she’s had a WonderWoman moment and transformed as she walked through the station.

Michelle from Barefacedchic whipped off her trench coat to reveal a classic black dress.

Annette from LadyofStyle switched her top and accessories, as well as her make-up.

Lisa from TheSequinist changed the trousersuit under her orange wrap coat for a dress and heels.

Liz from WhatLizzyLoves swapped her opaque tights with nudes then added heels and a wrap.

Catherine from NotDressedAsLamb paired her velvet midi dress with boots for work, revealing on trend fishnets for dinner.

So if you have that “Back to School” feeling this week I hope that’s given you a little desk to dinner inspiration. I’m determined to get back into the swing of my usual routine so I should be posting twice a week from now on. That means that with the wind behind me, I’ll be back on Friday. See you then.

Disclosure: ‘Desk to Dinner’ was a collaboration with Hobbs and the Over40Collective. Words, thoughts and pictures are all my own.

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