If you are considering returning to work one of the things you may have started to think about is your work wardrobe.

Prior to going on maternity leave, your work wear would have been the main stay of your wardrobe but you may not have given it a second thought all the while you have been on leave.  Having been out of the workplace for a while the question you may be asking is, will my work wardrobe still be relevant?

Whilst workplaces themselves change all the time, work wear can be fairly predictable. Different jobs and different industries of course have very different expectations, so if you are returning to a different role you should definitely research their dress code. In general, work wear etiquette is changing towards more relaxed environments, even the House of Commons no longer require men to wear ties as of June 2017, so it is always worth checking with former colleagues to see if there have been any significant changes you need to be aware of. The Government are soon to issue guidelines to employers for ‘appropriate’ dress codes following the incident of Nicola Thorp being sent home for not wearing high heels so it is likely that the trend towards less formality may be set to continue.

Returning to work can be daunting in itself, so you want to be able to give yourself the best advantage when it comes to feeling confident and being able to wear something you know makes you look and feel good will mean you can perform at your best too.

In terms of taking action to really overhaul your wardrobe, the best way to revamp your work wear is to review exactly what you do have so that you can decide what new items you may need.  Start with the obvious, your shape may have changed. If it does not fit, be it too small or too big, remove it from your current wardrobe and if they are items you or someone else may wear again, pack and store them safely.  If there are items you hadn’t worn prior to falling pregnant and they are not investment pieces, are you ever going to wear them? Be honest! Ditch them or recycle them but clear them from your wardrobe.  If you have work items that need repairing or altering, take them now to a dressmaker or do it yourself, do not delay.  Only put back into your wardrobe items you know you can and will wear for work.

Your working patterns may have changed so you need to start to think about how your wardrobe needs to work for you. Most importantly, understanding and knowing how you want to look, how you want to be seen and what you want to communicate ensures that you can look your best every day.

It is likely you will have less time to worry about what to wear for work so planning ahead is crucial.

Starting to plan your wardrobe week can also identify any gaps in your wardrobe so that next time you go shopping for clothes you know exactly what you need instead of choosing items that may not be necessary and may end up never being worn.

  • Start by planning your work wardrobe at the beginning of the week:
  • What appointments and meetings do you have?
  • Who are you seeing?
  • How will you be travelling to appointments?
  • What is the weather forecast for the week?
  • What accessories will you need?
  • Are you having to switch from business to family activities during the day and social for an evening event?

Is everything you need for the week cleaned and laundered? Remember, for clothes to last longer, don’t wear the same items or shoes the very next day, allow them to breathe.

The best advice for planning your wardrobe to reduce time and stress is to adopt a capsule wardrobe approach for your work wear.  A capsule wardrobe is a compact selection of clothes that provide multiple looks when combined in different ways. It requires coordination of colour and, of course, the cuts and styles that suit your shape and lifestyle. Create a capsule wardrobe with some quality staple items that you love and make you feel good and you will save that stress in the morning of thinking what you will wear.

An easy way to update and revamp your working wardrobe is with accessories. You can add injections of colour and prints and show some personality in the shoes, bags, scarves and jewellery that you choose. Following the latest trends for your ‘off duty’ wardrobe may be important for you but for work it may be simpler to add a splash of this season’s colour in the accessories that you buy and keep your core capsule items in staple colours that you can coordinate with all your working wardrobe.

The most important aspect of all is to look good, feel good and be great. Dress for work in a way that means you can be the best version of you.