Career · Style

Career mom’s guide to dressing stylishly for work

It is definitely a challenge for me to get ready in the morning while trying to get the kids ready at the same time.  Because my husband has to leave for work an hour earlier than I do, I end up being the parent in charge of changing, dressing, and feeding the kids.   If anyone has ever tried to do their hair and makeup with two little ones, they will realize that it is no easy feat.  Toddlers find makeup, hair dryers, and eyelash curlers to be incredibly fascinating toys.  I have multiple broken compact foundations and gouges in my eye shadows from little fingers finding their way into my beauty drawer.

I’m not an expert in make-up, hair, or style.  There are numerous bloggers and YouTube gurus out there.  Jean, of Extra Petite is a good inspiration for me and she always looks stylish for work and play.  I have learned quite a few make-up and hair tips from Jen, of From Head to Toe.

As a working professional with two young kids, I have had to adjust my morning routine so that I can look as good as I can in the shortest amount of time possible.  A big part of getting ready quickly is being able to get dressed in less than five minutes.  Below are some tips that I can offer to help streamline your process for getting dressed in the morning.


Step 1: Finding your style and figuring out what outfit types work for your body type. Look through your recent pictures and study your outfits.  Find the color schemes and silhouettes that flatter your skin tone and body type.  Alternatively, you can find a stylish friend, colleague, or celebrity/blogger with similar body type and use them as your inspiration.  The main reason  some people look good in what they wear is because their clothes fit them well.  Don’t be hesitant to get clothes altered to fit you.  No matter what your budget is, it is worth the investment to get things tailored because a well fitted sheath dress or pair of pants can make you look like a million bucks.

Step 2: Figure out how “fancy” you have to dress for work and what pieces of clothing work best for your line of work.  I work in a profession where pants are more practical than skirts or dresses.  As a result, most of my work outfits involve a blouse with blazer or structured cardigan and slim fitting pants.



Step 3: Find your “uniform” for work.  In order to get dressed efficiently and quickly, you need to have an outfit formula.  Have you read the article about the pretty art director who wore the exact same outfit to work every day?  I don’t think that I could ever pull that off, but I definitely appreciate the idea of not having to think about what to wear every morning.  Men have it so easy, right?

For me, I knew that I would need to have multiple pairs of pants in various shades and textures.   I committed myself to a few hours at the mall to try on every pant style from a few major retailers that made work clothes for women.  I went to Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and J Crew.  I basically found two pairs of pants that I liked and fit well for my body type.  The fact that I didn’t have to have any alterations was a major score.  I bought these two pairs in multiple colors and textures.

Banana Republic Sloan Pants (on 50% sale right now!)
J Crew Martie Bi-Stretch Wool pants

The next thing to look for are tops.  For me, I have a few non-iron button down shirts, peasant tops, and short sleeve and long sleeve blouses.  Again, you need to spend the time to figure out what looks good on you.  I watched TLC’s What Not To Wear for many years and have learned that empire waist tops tend to be flattering for most women because it nips at the skinniest part of the body and hides a tummy.  Once you find a few good silhouettes that flatter your body type, it will be easier to go shopping because you will be looking for variations (colors and patterns) within the same theme.  By the way, the non-iron thing is a game changer for me and my husband.  These non-iron shirts come out perfectly from the dryer, no ironing needed!

Step 4: Accessorize your basic outfit.  This is the most overlooked part of most people’s daily dressing routine.  It takes a basic outfit from okay to great.  I believe that accessories like jewelry, scarves, bags, and shoes make the outfit.  Kat, of Feather Factor, talks a lot about the “cost per wear” of articles of clothing and accessories.  I personally think that it is okay to splurge a little more on certain things because they either elevate your look and/or you can get so much use out of them.  For example, shoes can cost more than pants or tops, but you can wear them more often.  When I hem and haw over a splurge item, I often consider the cost of wear and how easily that item can be integrated into my existing wardrobe.


Step 5: Develop a signature look that makes you feel confident.  I used to get offended when friends would tell me I should get a certain top or dress because “it’s so you.”  I’ve learned that it is not a bad thing to be known for something because it makes you special and memorable.   Olivia Palermo is a style icon known for wearing statement necklaces, cat eye sunglasses, etc.  She has a great sense in accessorizing and it makes her stand out from the crowd.


Step 6: Aim to be the best version of yourself.  Accept and love your body, wherever you are currently.  Your body had to go through incredible changes to allow you to grow a human being.  Love and honor your amazing body.

Just like everything else in life, you can’t expect to look good without the initial investment in time, effort, and money.  Realize that it will take time to procure an organized closet full of clothes and accessories that flatter you.  You will also have to edit and update your closet every season or biannually to stay fresh and on trend.

I hope that you have found these tips to be helpful.  Are there any items in your closet that you cannot live without?  Click here to see my list of splurge worthy items that enhance a basic wardrobe.

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Happy Chic Mom, a blog for moms

The post, career mom’s guide to dressing stylishly for work, first appeared on Happy Chic Mom.

Photo Credit: Michelle Dang

13 thoughts on “Career mom’s guide to dressing stylishly for work

  1. What amazing and wise tips!!!!!!! So happy I have this blog to go to. I will now follow every step to get my wardrobe together🙂🙂Thank you Melissa, online fashion consultant/blogger extraordinaire 2017!


  2. Nice post! Definitely agree about the “uniform” bit. Lately, my go-to is a sweater dress, black opaque tights and booties; I add a checkered scarf if it’s not a turtleneck dress, if it’s cold enough. Also agree about finding clothes that fit you well and getting alterations as needed. And being okay spending on accessories, as they can truly elevate a simple outfit. Thank you for sharing all these tips, Melissa! Looking forward to following your blog. Congrats again on this new adventure!


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