When I returned to part time work after having my sons, I was faced with a bleak looking wardrobe. My clothes were either a bit shabby looking, a bit tight, a bit out of style or a bit maternity!
I needed an efficient and versatile collection of pieces that provided maximum options. Wearing the same dress every Tuesday was not a fun prospect and definitely not sustainable (on both a style and laundry level!).
I work three days a week and while I don’t need the same quantity of workwear as I did during my full time days, I still want variety in my life. I also want quality pieces that are comfortable, easy to wash and suit my multi tasking routine of dropping kids at daycare, driving, walking, meetings, more driving and daycare pick up.
My work clothes do not need to be fully corporate every day. I need smart outfits mostly with the occasional day of smart casual.
To establish a practical part time work wardrobe I developed the following simple rule:
The 2+1 Rule
When choosing new pieces for my work wardrobe, they have to meet this criteria:
- They have to work with at least 2 outfits for work AND
- They have to work with at least 1 outfit for non-work purposes
Example 1: A classic pair of black pants
- I can wear these to work in summer with a short sleeved top / blouse
- I can wear these to work in winter with heels, a shirt and jumper
- I can wear these out for dinner with a black top at any time of year
Example 2: A shirt dress
- I can wear this dress to work with sandals in summer
- I can add a blazer and ankle boots when the weather is cooler
- I can wear it on the weekend with flats
Example 3: A printed blouse
- I can wear this to work with a skirt and heels
- I can wear this to work with pants and a blazer
- I can wear this with denim shorts for a day of mum duty
So now that I had the formula, I had to work out how to best allocate my part time wardrobe funds!! Good quality basics with a sprinkling of colour was my goal and the six pieces I now can’t live without include:
- Black / navy pants
- A smart dress (e.g. shirt dress)
- Black / navy / grey blazer
- Printed blouse (I like a sheer style that requires no ironing)
- Skirt (plain or printed)
- Comfy heels (I love a low wedge or ankle boots the most)
All these items work together or with other pieces from my wardrobe. I can add bright scarves and jewellery for more colour and I can justify a new top here and there because I know it goes with these work basics. Here are some more examples of how I base my work outfits around these core pieces:
For more practical ideas on what to wear to work when you have young kids in tow (including the importance of pockets and the beauty of elasticated waistbands), you can read my post on choosing workwear that works with small kids.
Do you have any other tips to add? How do you choose your outfits for work?