In the last two weeks I’ve had several people lament to me that they have no idea what to wear to work now that they have a new job that requires them to step it up in the style department. So I donned my super hero style cape and jumped into action.
Let’s be honest. Dressing for work and for being a mommy is a difficult task. We need to look good enough at work that we are taken seriously, but also safe enough to walk in the house with the kids before or after work without worrying about getting syrup on your ass or snot on your shoulder. This means, care-free, washable, comfortable clothes. Dry Clean Only is getting the big stink eye here. (Although I have been known to hand wash dry cleans with good success, but be careful.)
I wanted to make this as simple as possible, especially if you are just starting out in the career world after a brief hiatus in Mommyland. I listed below the essential work wear pieces that I think every woman should have in their wardrobe. Take a look at the list and fill in the missing holes when you are shopping. These few items should keep you covered at work without needing to add much more which is great if you are on a tight budget. Another few words about budget: it shouldn’t matter what your budget is when purchasing these essentials. You can buy dress pants at Target or Brooks Brothers. Look for quality where ever you shop. You know how I feel, cheap clothes look cheap. Spend more money where you can and your clothes will last you a lot longer. Cost per wear ladies. Personally I like to spend more money on my pants and shoes as those are in heavy rotation and spend a bit less on tops and accessories.
This is what I’m wearing today. Everything in this picture is budget friendly. The shirt and pants I got at Marshalls, the cami is from Nordstrom Rack, the shoes are from Target, and the necklace is from Urban Peach. (Urban Peach is having a sale right now and everything is an extra 50% off-time to stock up on baubles!) Most of these items are eons old, but still look good.
Enough about me, here is the list of Work Wardrobe Essentials:
- 3 pairs of neutral dress pants (black, charcoal, navy)
- 1 pair of colored pants (feel free to go with what’s trendy here, wine is a big color for fall)
- 1 pencil skirt
- 1 dress
- 1 blazer
- 1 neutral cardi
- 1 fun cardi (print or color)
- 5 shirts, including one white button down (let your personal style and work environment guide you here) Look here for inspiration
- 1 pair of work appropriate jeans* (if your office has casual Friday or if you have casual work events like volunteering to attend)
- Shoes: black pumps, black flats, animal print, nude, knee high boots, ankle boots
You should try as much as possible to infuse your personal style into how you dress for work. Be your best professional self. There is a great blog, The Classy Cubicle, that is devoted to at-work style. Mary Orton has broken it down in a way I never could and in a way that appeals to everyone.
*I don’t really feel like I need to spell this out for you but I will. No holes, no jeggings, no so low rise your thong shows when you bend over. If grandma would disapprove don’t wear it to work. Keep it classy.
I’d love to say I’m cool enough to use Polyvore and create looks for you all but I’m just not. Although I promise I will try…someday. Below are some links to pieces that could work for all these essentials at various price points. I also tried to think of specific people I know who could rock these looks at work. Elise, Jennifer, and Vivian I’m talking to you!
Over the summer when I posted the style questionnaire I did have one brave reader, Anna, complete it. Anna works in a relaxed environment but enjoys looking nice for work. She describes herself as preppy and gravitates towards lots of pink and black. She’d love to detract some attention away from her chest and highlight her legs. She’s not big on accessorizing, but it willing to try. She gets a lot of her wardrobe from White House Black Market. Anna, here’s some picks for you, you might be able to get quite a few of these and stay in your budget:
Love, love, love the dress above. Belt it, throw on a blazer or cardi and call it a day. Heels or boots. Elise this has your name all over it I think!
Vivian just got a new job and her business attire is beginning to need replacing. She works in a highly corporate, conservative setting and gets frustrated trying to fit her petite frame. Her budget is higher given the nature of her job. Here are some picks I scouted for Vivian last week too:
Right before this post got posted I got an email from Macy’s saying there was a sale on work attire. I hopped on to sort through the selection and found a few good buys. This dress ends up being $55 with coupon code STYLE and these pants are a great dress pant option at just under $30. There’s plenty more basics on sale so check it out!
Get the idea ladies? Stick with these essentials and you should be nailing Working Mommy style in no time!