5 fashion items every working mum should own
25 Oct 2019
The number of working mums in the workforce is on the rise – 53.4 per cent of Australian mothers now balance careers and children. On average, they work 77 hours a week (that’s two hours more than dads), spend 20 hours on paid work, 30 hours on housework, and 27 hours on child care.
With time a luxury most working mums don’t have, it’s imperative to have a well-curated corporate wardrobe – one that takes the guesswork out of what to wear, saving not only time, but also stress.
“Having children, your body changes and you have to dress differently,” says Kari Arnison, 42, Head of Marketing at Schroders Australia, who found QVB’s Styling Session invaluable to help evolve her work style. “The session showed me there are many ways I can put together looks that are interesting and comfortable, yet also look great as my body changes. It's a different lens on how you can find your own style, in your new way of being.”
Leading Sydney stylist Carol Sae-Yang’s top tip for working mums looking to build a professional wardrobe is adding tailored staples for the most versatility. “If your body shape has changed, it’s best to invest in a few key pieces that suit your size and shape now,” she says. “Classic tailored jackets and pants that fit well will flatter your figure, so they’re worth investing in. These pieces also help to elevate a simple top. It’s all about high-low dressing.”
For women returning to work after having children and looking to start from scratch, Carol recommends building a wardrobe around a cohesive colour palette. “If you’re going to be investing in a few pieces, make sure they all work together well.” This includes buying more separates that can be easily paired up with other items for endless outfit options.
Ready for a wardrobe that works smarter and harder for you? These are the building blocks for a working mum’s corporate wardrobe.
#1 Classic tailored pants
Pants can be a comfortable option on days when you’re constantly on the move. They’re also guaranteed to make anything you pair with them look office-ready. “Tailored pants are an office wear essential because they’re so versatile to style and wear,” says Carol. “The most important thing to look for is cut and comfort. High-waist styles are very flattering, just make sure the front of the pant sits flat. Look for fabrics with a little ‘give’, and keep it simple by avoiding fussy pleats or details.” As for the fit, Carol says the right length make all the difference. “I like the hem to end at the thinnest part of my ankle. It means the pants are cropped, however, they’ll look good when you wear them with flats.”
#2 A crisp white top
White tops aren’t solely an office classic: they’re a working mum’s secret weapon. “White and lighter colours can instantly lift tired complexions,” says Carol. “White also offers endless styling options. For instance, it can break up a dark-coloured suit to keep the overall look fresh and contemporary,” explains Carol. “Cotton and silk women’s business shirts are a timeless staple, however, any simple white top will prove to be a hard-working addition.” Teaming a white top with tailored pants or pencil skirt from Monday to Thursday amounts to effortless style. On Casual Fridays, it’s the ideal way to dress up jeans or a midi skirt.
#3 A blazer
Nothing smartens up an outfit faster than a blazer. It can also conceal an un-ironed shirt on days when you’ve run out of time to fuss with the details. “My personal favourite is a pinstriped, single-breasted navy blazer. You can pair it with tailored pants for a chic office look, and also with jeans and a white t-shirt for Casual Fridays,” says Carol. “The navy is a softer tone than black, and it goes with everything. In summer, I look for a lightweight, looser style to throw over a linen dress or pants. I also advise buying the best you can afford: a good blazer takes a few kilos off your frame and will last a lifetime,” advises Carol. Consider buying pant suits, too. “When you find a blazer you love, take a look at the matching pants or skirt. After all, you never know when you’ll need to wear a suit.”
#4 A tailored skirt
“For women returning to work, I always recommend buying additional separates such as skirts and pants. They can be mixed and matched with tops, so you’ll always get more mileage out of your work wardrobe,” says Carol. A structured silhouette like a pencil skirt is a great foundation piece for a versatile work wardrobe. However, don’t discount other styles. “A pleated silk skirt paired with ballet flats is an easy, sophisticated look,” shares Carol. “Also, look for skirts with textures such as leather. A timeless favourite, it will take you from office to after-dark with ease.”
#5 A shirt dress
Traditional office dresses can often feel restrictive, but a shirt dress offers a comfortable fit that still looks formal. “Shirt dresses are the new sheath,” says Carol. “They’re more relaxed, but versatile enough to wear to a meeting with a pump and jacket, or with an ankle boot for a smart, casual feel.” A flattering style for most body shapes, choose a low-maintenance fabric that doesn’t require ironing, and consider a button-down style if you’re still breastfeeding. Dark colours and prints hide an array of unexpected stains and always look proper and professional.
For guidance on how to rebuild and curate your ieal corporate wardrobe post-baby, book a personal styling session with one of Sydney’s leading stylists, Carol Sae-Yang, at qvb.com.au/rise