Q.Working in the City, my weekday look consists mainly of dark trousers, collared shirts and v-neck knits. I want some new ideas on wearing separates but am also wary of looking inappropriate. Any tips?

IT is so important to feel inspired by what you are putting on for your working day. Not only will you stand out from your peers but your body language will be more positive and confident. The trick is to find work wear pieces that, styled differently, you would be just as happy to wear with your friends at the weekend. That way your own personality doesn't become lost in your working role.

Remember that the traditional work uniform was developed for the triangular male silhouette of broader shoulders and narrow waist. Replicate this on a woman's body and often you can end up looking a bit boxy and square.

Starting from the top: replace the stiff cotton shirt with a silk blouse. This softer fabric is more flattering on the body and has the added benefit of bouncing light upwards to illuminate your complexion. Neutral creams, ivories and golden tones are all very appropriate for the office. Don't be put off by stronger, especially blue-based, jewel tones too (e.g. peacock, cobalt and amethysts) which, when paired with sober work trousers, are the simplest way to add an injection of colour.

Although v-neck cashmere jumpers might keep you warm, they are not sophisticated when paired with trousers, look bulky over a bust and are generally infinitely nicer on a male figure than a woman’s. Instead, focus on developing a selection of nipped-in cropped jackets to show off the waist in flexible soft fabrics that allow you to move easily.

Finally, to complete your work separates, you need a few pairs of trousers in classic shades and different cuts. Focus on higher-waisted styles that draw attention to the smallest part of your body. A slightly cropped (7/8th) trouser, that skims the shape of your legs rather than drowning them, is both modern and practical as you can wear them easily with flats when rushing about, and heels for meetings.

So, this Monday, why don’t you try a cropped trouser shape with a high waist, teamed with a silk top tucked in to show your waist and a delicate skinny belt (in patent or even a neutral snakeskin) to pull everything together. Top off with your cropped jacket and you will look instantly more polished, sophisticated and stylish. You will feel more like yourself in the office and will stand out from the sea of black trousers and brown v-necks in the City.

For your own City style questions contact: Clare Rous & Kara Iland, Rous Iland Members’ Boutique, tel: 0845 003 8945