Life takes interesting turns and throughout it, we take on different roles. We might switch careers, we may go through pregnancy—possibly multiple times, we might decide to be stay-at-home moms or to work part-time while raising children, or we may go on a sabbatical. These kinds of experiences can put our lives on another course. It can put our careers on hold and can change our identities. So what do you do when you want to move forward with your career or dreams after taking a break?
This is not about a specific season or weather. Life takes us through many different paths. Recently, a colleague told me her story of becoming a mother and trying to balance her new identity—a parent and businesswoman. I could completely relate to this challenge. What is the new personal brand? A mom and also an individual who still has her own sense of self. What does that mean in relation to fashion and style?
In my personal experience, with my first daughter, I gained 40 pounds and with my second daughter 21 pounds. After pregnancy, all kinds of questions circle in our minds like “How can I possibly fit into my ‘regular’ clothes?” In the back of your mind, you might be thinking: I want to look my best during this transitional time. I want to go out with my girlfriends, on date nights with my partner and back into the workforce before all the baby weight is off. Most important of all is I want to look and feel my best for me! Can you relate?
This kind of scenario is not only relevant to women who have just gone through pregnancy. You may be figuring out your new fashion identity to return to the workforce after raising kids for years or after taking a sabbatical. No matter the reason, maybe your old wardrobe no longer fits your body. Maybe it does not resonate with who you are now or what you want moving forward. And it’s important to look your best, especially since networking is so important to landing a new position or growing in your career.
If you’re returning to the workforce and don’t know where to start, focus on these components of fashion
Choose the right silhouette to flatter your body. Avoid the “tent” silhouette. Instead, think more along the lines of “draping”—not tight so the fabric does not cling. These are good silhouettes to try on:
- T-shirt silhouette
- Empire style dresses
- Wrap dresses
- Flowy dresses with a belt to provide an entirely different look
- Sheath dresses
- Maxi dresses in a light fabric, which are feminine but easy to move in
- Pants that are tailored versus wide leg to achieve a more slimming effect. Wear this with a feminine, flowy blouse that has a light pattern.
Fabric makes such a difference to the way the piece sits on your body. If you choose a light option, make sure it doesn’t cling. Try these flattering fabrics:
Perfect Go-to Pieces
Certain pieces are perfect as go-to fashion choices during your transition. The following pieces will help elevate your look:
- A knit blazer or cardigan with a shape, don’t wear over-sized pieces during this phase
- A skinny jean with a stretch coupled with a wrap top
- Pencil skirts with ruching and gathers or a skirt that includes a wrap paired with a buttoned shirt or tunic
- Leggings—these can be a savior for many women at any time, but give yourself a break from them if they are your go-to outfit. However, wear them in an elevated way—the message here is that many women tend to wear leggings that make them look too relaxed and frumpy.
- Beautiful silk tanks and buttoned tops can be worn with many bottoms and layering pieces.
- Slim neutral pants with a stretch
Undergarments and Accessories
Complete your outfit with the right complementary undergarment and use accessories to complete your look.
This has been a life-saver in the world of attire in general. And during a time when you are conscience of baby weight or your body has simply changed, this undergarment will help give you a smoother look to provide more confidence. Just be aware of the level of compression so you are not feeling uncomfortable.
For work, go for classy pumps, mules or loafers that are versatile enough to work with many pieces in your wardrobe.
For a night out, throw on a chic mid heel or stiletto. These shoes are a sure way to give you that extra bounce in your step, especially when you are wearing your “practical” shoes on a daily basis.
Jewelry, Belts, and Scarves
A statement piece can pull your outfit together and add interest to a simple wardrobe. Scarves, necklaces, and earrings give wonderful ways to accent your outfit and take some focus away from your clothing and your body. A well-positioned belt over a dress can enhance your silhouette. Accessories play the role of making your wardrobe seem larger and more exciting than it really is, and you most likely already have many of these pieces.
Focus on Beauty and Self-Care
Think about your entire look from top to bottom, and focus on taking care of yourself as you make a change.
Allow for a blow-out bi-weekly or monthly (whatever suits your budget). I find the power of a good blow-out is just as impactful as your attire.
Getting a manicure and pedicure improves your overall look and confidence. Plus, it allows for some me time, and you will make you feel more polished.
Take time for yourself, whatever that means to you. Treat yourself to a facial, a bubble bath or a massage. Make sure you check in with yourself during this transition so you make the right decisions and stay on track with your goals and dreams. After all, your fashion will only reflect what’s happening on the inside.