Were you once the sort of person for whom getting dressed in the morning entailed leisurely trying on several different clothing items in several different ways, turning this way and that in front of the mirror before flouncing out the door?! If so, I imagine all that became a dim, distant memory once you had your first child!
Suddenly getting dressed each morning becomes a ritual of just finding something that fits, is vaguely clean and allows you to climb into one of those little huts at the top of a slide to rescue a bawling child should you need to. Add to that the requirement to turn up at work appropriately, or even smartly dressed and the level of difficulty increases exponentially.
Well, here’s how to do it! It’s all about organization. (You knew I was going to say that didn’t you!)
1. Find your style
It’s easier if you have a signature look. I’m not talking about a uniform, just a theme. Work out what you want your look to say about you and marry that up with all the different professional roles you have within your day/week. For one person that might be just wearing navy blue all the time because she loves it and it makes her feel authoritative, professional and slimmer. Another will only wear dresses because she loves feeling feminine. So she will wear a soft knitted dress with riding boots on the days she can be informal and a more tailored dress and heels on days where she is client-facing or in high-level meetings. (Knowing your most flattering colours and styles will also make things easier!)
2. Create a capsule wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe means you can mix and match to create enough different outfits for your needs. Calculate all the different professional roles/environments you have (might be only one, might be several) and ensure you have an outfit for every eventuality and day of the week, including a couple of day to evening looks. A necklace and a pair of heels added to a silk shirt and tailored trousers may be all that’s required to look great if going out after work. – Read more about creating a capsule wardrobe.
3. Do a Wardrobe Edit
Identify any gaps you have regarding your work capsule wardrobe. Are you missing a great pair of black boots? The right colour tights? The perfect jacket that will smarten you up when necessary? Is anything out of date (ageing!) or in bad condition (makes you look unprofessional!). Chuck things out, get them cleaned or mended and go shopping for the missing bits.
4. Create an iWardobe
Play around and make some new outfits. Lay them out on the bed complete with the accompanying footwear and accessories, then photograph them! Arrange them in a digital album. When you are out of ideas, there they will be in your iPad!
5. Organise your wardrobe
Put work clothes one end (or in a separate wardrobe if possible) and non-work clothes the other end. It’s fine to have an overlap section of tops in the middle, especially if your work dress code is very casual. If you like, put whole outfits together on one hanger along with the scarves, belts and jewelry for them. Otherwise, just arrange your clothes in groups of skirts, trousers, dresses, shirts etc. and then colour code them from light to dark. (Do use thin rubberised hangers for most things. They take up less space in your wardrobe and you spend less time retrieving fallen items from the floor!) Everything else will be organized in drawers or shelves.
6. Check your underwear
The single most useful and unobtrusive bra to have is the nude-coloured, T-shirt bra (ideally with a bit of padding to disguise any nipple action!). Have at least 2 of these for work days. Ensure you have plenty of tights and leggings if you wear dresses/skirts. It saves time if you separate out the different deniers, colours and patterns in labeled ziplock freezer bags as it’s very hard to tell a grey from a black on a misty Monday morning.
7. Organise your accessories
Accessories are what will professionalise your otherwise casual outfit in a second! Hang your jewelry, belts and scarves from hooks or curtain rods fixed to the inside of your wardrobe. That way you will always see what you have and what will go with which outfit. It may be useful to separate work-appropriate items from the rest for speed’s sake.
8. Make a distinction between your work and non-work look
For those of you who work from home or whose job carries a dress code so relaxed you could almost turn up in your pyjamas, I say – Don’t do it! Try to make a distinction between work clothes and non-work clothes . Changing into your non-work clothes is a sartorial signal to yourself that it’s time to relax! And it is a proven fact that we work more efficiently if we dress more smartly. “Casual attire means casual attitude” said Kim Fennebresque, CEO of SG Cowan . I’m not saying truss yourself up in a stuffy suit everyday, just make a little extra effort for work. Sophie Dahl had it right when she said “You have to put lipstick on eventually, even when it’s just you and the computer. Otherwise it’s not writing, it’s depression.”
Author: Angela Weyers of My Stylist London - 7 years ago, bored with a career in Local government and facing empty nest syndrome, Angela decided to follow her passion for fashion and re-train as a Style and Image consultant with Colour Me Beautiful. She now provides services that help people to look the best version of themselves. She has two grown up children, two dogs, and one big wardrobe!