Heading back to work after maternity leave or a few years as a stay-at-home-mom can feel like moving from the Midwest to Paris. There’s culture shock, for sure, but what’s truly jarring could easily be referred to as fashion shock.
Before you signed that contract, dressing up was a matter of finding clean yoga pants. Now you need to present a professional face to the world five days a week, and that one maternity dress that still looked kind of passable just isn’t going to cut it.
So it’s time to assemble your work wardrobe! The easiest way to build a new professional wardrobe is to think capsule.
The modern capsule wardrobe is usually based around neutral tops and bottoms in a dark color like black or navy and accessorized with lighter or printed accent pieces that can be combined hundreds of ways to make different outfits.
Here is what you need to get started this fall.
Fall Fashion Tips for Back to Work Moms
A Tailored Blazer
A well-tailored black blazer that’s been fitted perfectly to your body can be worn with a pencil skirt or jeans with mile high heels. If you don’t have time to have your blazer tailored, opt for a size smaller than you think you need.
The Iconic Button-Down Shirt
A simple, crisp, well fitted white shirt is so versatile that no working mother’s closet should be without one. Dress it up with a statement necklace, pencil skirt and heels for a no-nonsense power look or pair it with new skinny jeans and flats for casual Fridays. It’s a staple that can be the focal point of almost any look.
Sleek dark trousers aren’t trendy, but they’re never out of fashion, either – and they rival the LBD when the measure is utility. For a trendier look for fall, opt for a cropped cut that showcases the fall-hued heels and flats that will be replaced by ankle boots soon enough.
Basic black pumps
Black pumps add polish to any look and tend to take on the characteristics of whatever they’re paired with, so a LBD will dress them up and a pair of cropped jeans will make them feel casual chic. Don’t assume you can’t wear bright, funky footwear to work but splurge on some black pumps to keep on hand for those occasions when less is more.
A Sophisticated Shift
Autumn is the season of cold mornings and hot afternoons, so layering is the order of the day. A comfortable shift in a neutral color is a lifesaver for working moms because it can be paired with a blazer or cardigan when there’s a chill (or the AC is cranking), and then worn alone as the day warms up.
The sun is getting lower in the sky, which means that your commute may be hard on your eyes. The drugstore sunglasses that were perfect for the beach don’t always wear as well when you’re walking into work, so invest in fall-friendly sunnies that gel with your new professional look. Ray-Ban has a mix of sunglasses that are the perfect match with feminine fall coats and will last forever.
A Bag with Power
Moms are almost always the ones fielding calls from babysitters and the school nurse, so it only makes sense to have a fully charged phone at all times. New, fashionable bag-plus-battery combos are making it easier to stay in touch. Everpurse (with its Kate Spade collaboration) and the Mighty Purse from HButler are two stylish options for mamas working the 9-to-5.
A lot of women don’t know that makeup has expiration dates just like groceries do. Using your old makeup probably won’t do any serious damage, but don’t forget that pregnancy can cause changes to skin color, texture and sensitivity. A trip to Sephora for a consultation with their experts and some new makeup bag staples ensures not only that your skin will stay in tip-top condition but also that you’re using the right palette.
But, let’s back up. The first step is simply identifying your workplace’s uniform. If you’re still interviewing, make sure to take a peek at what your future colleagues are wearing and if you’re ever in doubt, no one will fault you for simply asking how employees are expected to dress on any given day. Remember that a killer haircut can make up for a multitude of wardrobe sins, and good quality basics will give you more bang for your buck than cheaper trendy pieces.
Finally don’t forget to have fun! If you can handle night feedings and teething, you can crush this, too.
Samantha Rivers is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago (Go Cubs!) and loves writing anything in the lifestyle,travel, and parenting realm both online and print. When she’s not running the Upward Onward blog, she enjoys reading, finding new restaurants, being active outside, and indulging in a glass of wine or two. Follow her on Twitter!