by Elaine Yu
Is your work wardrobe a mix of clothes that blends your mom uniform with the outdated suits — complete with chunky shoulder pads — you wore to the office ten years ago? Do you need to retire your “mom look” and sharpen your appearance because you started a new job, created your own business, or are rejoining the work force?
Moms who are transitioning back into the workplace face unique style challenges. Our professional wardrobe requires key pieces that elevate our image but don’t break the bank. We need to look our best and the most efficient way to achieve this is by starting with basics to create a range of versatile work ensembles. Let’s face it: Personal appearances matter. It’s no secret that studies show that what you’re wearing can make or break a first impression. Whether you’re meeting new clients or interviewing for a new position, you need to look and feel your best. No matter where you’re headed, why not arrive in style?
Believe me, I know how challenging it is to reinvent your image. For ten years, I was a stay-at-home mom, raising my three kids. It’s a job I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world, but when I started my styling business earlier this year, my wardrobe needs changed. My daily mom uniform of designer jeans, t shirt and accessories no longer matched the image I wanted to convey. I started attending networking events and meeting with clients, which meant I had to look both stylish and professional.
My wardrobe is still in transition but I am cultivating my professional look with the help of some key pieces. These are the 10 essential items every working mom should have in her closet:
1) A Black Blazer. Nothing says “I’m professional” like a blazer and gone are the days of the boring, boxy navy blue suit! Thank goodness. A black blazer is a must-have for your ward-robe because you can wear it with black pants as a suit or with jeans for a more casual but still put together look.
2) Great Fitting Black Pants. As moms, our bodies have been through significant changes. Putting on pants we wore pre-babies doesn’t quite work. So invest in a pair of great fitting black pants that you can wear with your blazer for a professional look or with a printed blouse for a business casual outfit.
3) Black Pumps. Every woman needs a great black pump. This pair by Ivanka Trump can be worn with your black suit, jeans for a night out, little black dress for fancy occasions and your versatile day dress for presentations.
4) Versatile Day Dress. A dress like this one can take you from the boardroom to the dining room of an upscale restaurant. Perfect for those days when you have an evening event right after work. I also love this dress for presentations. Wearing a dress is so easy and it’s a powerful statement piece as well – it says feminine and professional all at once. A dress is so easy to wear because there’s nothing to fuss with – no shirt to tuck in, belt to buckle, shirt to button – just put it on with a pair of tights and pumps and you’re ready to go.
5) Delicate Statement Necklace. Jewelry is the icing on the cake of a great outfit. A fun piece like this one adds just the right amount of polish – not too big, not too small – and adds a splash of color!
6) Printed Silk Blouse. The printed silk blouse is another must-have because when you’re unsure about what to wear, throw this on. You can wear this pretty print with a pair of jeans or with your suit.
7) Little Black Dress. When that party invitation arrives in the mail, do you panic because you have nothing to wear? Do you run out and buy the first dress you try on because you’re pressed for time? Avoid the frustration and stress that comes with not having the Little Black Dress. Including this classic piece in your wardrobe means that you always have something to wear for every event. Change up the look by wearing it with a dazzling statement necklace for evening cocktail parties or with a cardigan sweater and pearl necklace for your next business luncheon.
8) Leather Work Bag. Remember the brief case? I remember buying one for my first job out of college in ’95 and feeling very awkward carrying it around. Thankfully, the work bag has been transformed! This one by Diane Von Furstenburg will carry all your necessary paperwork and business cards while adding a punch to your outfit with the fun black and white design.
9) Printed Scarf. This is the easiest accessory to wear and it also keeps you warm! Scarves can liven up any outfit so have a good time and choose a great print.
10) Color Cardigan. For the days you just don’t feel like putting on a blazer, a colorful cardigan can also do the trick of helping you look more polished. For a pop of color, choose something bright that can be worn with your black pants and t shirt with your delicate statement necklace or printed scarf.
I put together all of the options above on a Pinterest board for you to view! If you have questions about how to put your new work outfits together or need some help picking out professional basics for your wardrobe , let me know. I’d love to hear from you! firstname.lastname@example.org
Elaine Yu, personal stylist, started Simply Chic Styling to share her love for fashion and, ultimately, help women look and feel their very best.