In 2013 I founded Hawkins & Shepherd shirt makers as I decided there was more to life than a normal 8am-6pm office job. However prior to this shift in careers, I worked in IT for a commodities company over 12.5 years. As my career in IT was at its early stages, so was the company I worked for and we grew together. At the beginning of my employment there, I had the pleasure to work for some incredible mangers who inspired me (the type that are leaders rather than micro-mangers) - in many ways they have shaped who I am today. I certainly got my work ethic from them and they taught me the value of getting along with people, working hard, being creative, listening to others and most importantly respect/value your employees.

During my career I progressed from your everyday IT Support employee "hmmm perhaps a reboot will fix your issue". To more technical projects based roles and finally in charge of the global network and telephony estate, managing a small but great team of around 7 people in geographic locations such as USA, South Africa, China & of course London. For my IT career, that was pretty much where I always saw my progression going but it was hard work and not by chance or by luck that got me there. Everyone knows that moving jobs is a great way of increasing salary and at the very early stages of my career I chopped and changed jobs a couple of times, a year here and a year there. That is fine, although unsustainable because you do not want to be labeled as an un-loyal employee who will jump ship at the sight of a few extra grand! Eventually you'll land a perfect job for the perfect company and thats when you anchor down and shape your career for the future. However, this brings its own challenges. How do you ask for a pay rise within your current role that you have happily been doing for years on a certain salary? You don't want to leave but you know you're worth more?

Asking for a raise is no doubt nerve wrecking but remember that most companies want to bend over to keep good employees. Before you pop that question you need to think about how you are going to ask for a raise. Instant Offices have highlighted what you should and shouldn’t say when asking for a raise. Lets start with the DONTS'.

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I recall that once during my 12.5 year career, I actually did one of these DONTS' in fact No1 on the list! "I Quit" - well I didn't phrase is like that, it was more along the lines of "I don't want to leave this amazing company, I love it here and see a future for years to come. However, I have been offered similar roles for a bigger salary than what I'm currently on. Is there anyway you could match what they are offering?". Well I'm not sure of the exact words, but the point is that I didn't want to leave but I was willing to risk leaving in order to get the pay rise or promotion that I desired. However, when I put my job on the line, it was a measured risk, as I did actually have other employment offers to jump into if their reply would have been different. 

Asking your boss for a pay rise can be quite daunting but be confident and do your research, you need to be prepared...don't just demand an unreasonable salary that you can not justify. For me as well as many other people, my confidence comes from dressing well. 

Here are a few of my favourite formal workwear looks:

Well it looks like you are all set for that crucial life changing discussion, read the below tips and you'll do just fine....GOOD LUCK :) 

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Every so often I have to head out of the comfort of my Clapham home office into town for a meeting and I always struggle to know what to wear. London's office style is changing and it is no longer as simple as putting on a shirt, suit and shoes. With more traditionally corporate offices adopting casual-Fridays, some opting for no-tie smart attire, some smart-casual and others just wear what you feel comfortable makes dressing for a meeting a bit of mission. 

On this occasion I was visiting digital design agency Vitamin London to discuss some major changes to the ascetics and functionality of my website Digital, creative...hmmm...that sounds casual right? Probably but then again I don't want to turn up looking like I haven't made any effort and after all I have another meeting afterwards in a traditional office block. What to do? 

More often than not, we worry about things that actually don't matter much at all and this meeting was one of those occasions as Jacob (Vitamin's Founder) greeted me in a floral bomber jacket over the top of a navy check shirt (see above images). Talk about creative!

What I tend to do is dress in dark black jeans with no rips, or a pair of slim-fitted fashion trousers, what I mean by fashion trousers is not just a pair of baggy trousers that you wear with a suit but instead a tailored pair of grey prince of wales check for example. Shoes, but a type that can bridge the gap between smart and casual, like a pair of brogues. Then a button-down shirt as it is the perfect shirt to look smart but also casual with the sleeves rolled, lastly a big long smart overcoat. You might feel a little over dressed for the most casual and fashionable offices. You might also feel too under dressed in a hedge funds head office but generally speaking you'll tick all the boxes. Now just concentrate on the meeting itself!






Dressing for an interview is not the time to start experimenting.
— Carl Thompson, Founder Hawkins & Shepherd

Interviews and important meetings can be a very stressful time wether it is getting your presentation right, making sure your voice doesn't get that embarrassing shaky tone or what to wear to make the best impression.

Although I'm a dab hand at PowerPoint, I'm probably best qualified to help you out on the styling aspect and leave someone else to deal with the other stuff!

Firstly the most important thing is that you dress in something which you are comfortable in both physically and mentally. So pick a shirt that fits you well, not too small that the buttons are screaming out for extra stitching or the shirt is cutting off your circulation under the arms. What I mean by dressing comfortable mentally is just dress in something that doesn't make you feel anxious. Wear something you have worn before and liked what you felt and looked like. An interview is NOT the place to start experimenting with different colour combinations. Focus on whats important, which is getting that job!

Don't go over the top. Choose a plain Navy/Grey suit or if you are fashion forward maybe opt for a subtle window-pane or Prince of Wales Check suit. You should avoid bold tones, black or brown suits, as these can be seen a depressing colours.

Saying that, you need to stand out. So you can best do this with either the shirt or the accessories. In this look, I have gone for a gingham check red and navy extreme cutaway shirt which is bold however I have kept the tie simple with a knitted navy design and not worn a pocket square.

Do not over accessorise. There are many options when accessorising your formal look. Pocket squares, socks, tie bars, flower lapels, ties etc. Do not over use all of these accessories and do not match the colours as it can be too over powering.

Be yourself and be confident, now get out there and smash it!



Hawkins & Shepherd Shirt | Suit Supply Suit | Gibson London Tie | Hawkins & Shepherd Socks | Dune Shoes | Tie Bar by Stytched

Photo Credit Sophie Milner