Women's Clothing: Fashion Tips for Moms Heading Back to Work

Deciding to return to work after being a stay-at-home mom for a few years is a big step and a major life change. You’re excited but apprehensive at the same time. In preparation for your job interviews, you take a quick survey of wardrobe and realize a few things:

  1. Almost nothing in your closet fits you
  2. The items that do you really wish didn’t
  3. You need a wardrobe overhaul

Even if you’ve been back in the work force since your maternity leave ended, your wardrobe may still need a pick me up. As a mother, it’s easy to lose sight of your inner fashionista. Kids, home and work tend to take priority over you and especially over your clothes. So, how do you get yourself to look like the hot mamma you are without breaking the bank? With a few right pieces.

Unlocking the Secret
In today’s fashion obsessed society, almost every woman wants to look her best and this means being on top of the latest fashions. But we’re not all Donatella Versace with our own fashion empires and millions of dollars to spend on clothes. Nor are we celebrities who have designers sending us free clothes and wardrobe consultants to make sure we look fab-u-lous every time we step outside. This means you have to make some key purchases that will take you from season to season.

Before you get shopping, though, you need to learn some basic rules first.

  • Rule #1: Buy clothes that fit you. This doesn’t mean always buying clothes in the same size; the reality is that a size 10 in one store may not be the same size 10 in another store. Sure, this may mean you have to go up a size sometimes but it also implies that you get to go down a size at other times. Besides, in the end, clothes that fit you properly will look good no matter what the tag says.
  • Rule #2: Know your body shape. Because different styles have different cuts, certain styles will suit certain people. Also, if you know what your best assets are (legs, shoulders, waist), then show them off! Emphasize the good while minimizing the not-so-great.
  • Rule #3: Trying is not buying. Make this your mantra. There are many items that look fantastic on the rack but absolutely hideous once you actually put them on. Likewise, items that seem just ho-hum on the hanger look va-va-va-voom on you. But you’ll never know unless you take it to the change room.
  • Rule #4: Never buy without trying. Sizes can vary from store to store (and even within the store); an item may be cut awkwardly; and not every piece of clothing will look as good on you as it does on a mannequin. So you must must, must try clothes on before you decide to buy them.
  • Rule #5: Love what you buy. If there is ever a doubt in you mind, then put it back. If you find yourself thinking "It’s okay, but…" then put it back. If you don’t walk out of that change room feeling great and absolutely thrilled at what you see in the mirror, then put it back. Why? Because you won’t wear what you don’t love and feel comfortable in and there’s no sense in wasting money.

Let’s Get This Wardrobe Started
Now that the rules have been established and you’re ready to get out to the stores, it’s time to make a shopping list. Every wardrobe needs to have a few key pieces. From these various items, you start to build out. These items should be thought of as an investment because they will remain in your wardrobe for years to come, no matter what is currently in fashion. It is okay to spend a bit more money on these pieces since they will not be getting the old heave-ho in a few months time.

  • Pants: Wide-legged trousers are a great shape for pretty much any woman and are a very classic style. Think of Katherine Hepburn when you’re shopping. Stay away from tapered pants; they will make you look like a triangle with your hips being the widest point.
  • Skirt: An a-line skirt is great for those who would like to minimize their hips while drawing attention to their waist. A straight, pencil skirt is also a great classical shape that flatters many women. However, steer clear of any skirt that hugs your body just a little too close. If you have VPL (that’s "visible panty lines" for those of you who are new to this), then it’s not the skirt for you.
  • Blouses: It might sound a bit dull, but the more plain, the better. If it is plain, then you can dress it up with the latest accessories or use it underneath a hip sweater. Sometimes plain is good. Remember, you’re buying basic, key pieces for your wardrobe.
  • Sweaters and cardigans: Again, simple is best. These items can easily be dressed up for the office or down for everyday use. And when your clothes have versatility, the more use you can get out of it.
  • Pant or skirt suit: No career woman should be without a nice suit, whether it is a pant suit or a skirt suit. Unlike men, women can mix-and-match their suit to wear with other items in their wardrobe. So wear your suit pants with your sweater and the jacket with a pair of jeans. Wearing the suit altogether also looks stunning and gives you a very authoritative and business-oriented look, which is perfect for impressing the bosses!
  • Colors: Since these are key elements to your wardrobe that are meant to last, you should stick to basic, neutral colors. Black, white, brown and gray can easily be matched with whatever the color du jour is for this season. Reds and blues, although not always considered to be neutral, are also easily integrated into most current fashion styles.

Putting it Together
So now that you’ve spent some money on getting the basics, it’s time to have fun. Because fashion is always changing, there is no sense in dropping a lot of money on one fashionable item, even if it is good quality. If you only spend $20 or $40 on the latest hot pink blouse or turquoise skirt, then it’s okay to replace them in six months.

After being banned to the back of the closet, accessories have made a huge comeback. These days, accessories are all the rage and a huge part of fashion - so stock up! Better still is the fact that they are an easy and cheap way of adding the latest pizzazz to your clothes. Currently, the "it" item to have is rhinestone jewelry. Anything sparkly, whether it is a pin, necklace or even your shoes, will help make your outfits pop. But keep in mind, a little can go a long way, especially in the office. Bows are also making a wave in the popularity pool right now. Use a lovely satin or velvet pink ribbon (tied in front or on the side) as a belt on your black pants.

Once you have your key pieces, it is easy to create new, exciting and fashionable looks without spending a lot of money. Now go have some fun with your clothes!