Forever 21 is a store. Twenty-one is an age. At what age do you think women should stop shopping at Forever 21?
I’m going to be honest. I still shop at Forever 21. I do still buy a few things from there, but age has given me the wisdom to distinguish between right and wrong. And yes, there are right and wrong fashion choices for the professional working mom.
Old ladies still shopping in Juniors
I recently read an article about specific clothes women shouldn’t wear after a certain age. There are tons of articles on this topic, and everyone has an opinion. Some say screw it, wear whatever you want. Others say ladies in their 50s shouldn’t be wearing halter tops. I say all women shouldn’t be wearing halter tops. Save your treasures for home, ladies.
Truth. In addition to still shopping at Forever 21, I continue to shop in the Juniors section. I haven’t quite transitioned to that other section. In fact, I don’t even know what you call the more mature clothing section. Petites? Misses? Those are sizes. Maybe it’s called Women’s. (I know what it’s called.) Either way, I have browsed through there but don’t exactly feel like I fit in. So, I just quasi-check it out and move on to a store that doesn’t have set sections. Just one big store of female clothes.
But, when I do shop in Juniors, I know I should not buy mini-skirts. Or fluorescent T-shirts. Or jeans with lots of holes. Instead, I can browse the jackets, sweaters, accessories. Even if I find a mini skirt I like, where would I wear it? I’m a mom. That doesn’t mean I’m a prude, but I’m a mom. It does mean I should wear clothes that reflect my stage in life, not one that I’m trying to hold on to.
Professional working mom fashion
Some may consider age to be just a number or based on how you feel, but as a professional working mom, fashion needs to be age appropriate. It just has to. When I was a teenager I wore the fire out of ribbons. I wasn’t a cheerleader, but I sure fixed my hair like I was one. I had every color, and you better believe my outfits were coordinated to match my bows. Truth again, I still love bows; I just don’t wear them in my hair. I now have a bow on my purse, on my diaper bag, on pillows. I’m too old to wear ribbons in my hair, unless it’s something for the corporate Halloween contest.
There are two amazing things about getting older:
- Giving less of a sh!t about what other people think
Ironically, both of these gifts from age relate to fashion. I don’t generally give a sh!t about what people think of my fashion choices … yet I make fashion decisions with wisdom acquired through my professional experience. It’s challenging enough being a female leader in a male-dominated environment. And I don’t need or want to draw attention to my chest or hair or insane high heels. I want attention on my ability to innovate and execute. So, while I don’t really give a flip if someone thinks my chevron, flowy pants look like something from the 70s, I think they’re fashionable, professional, and appropriate for my profession.
My point is, just make smart choices when it comes to fashion. As a professional, always try to fast forward to the looks you’ll get from the opposite sex, and same sex for that matter. Women are most critical of other women, right? But you do have to consider if the male CEO will question your ability to think if he can’t get past your outfit choice.
Top 6 fashion tips for working moms
For the professional working mom, here are my top 6 fashion recommendations. Because Lord knows you don’t have a lot of time for yourself since you’re busy making sure husband and kids have clothes on before you even get out the door in the morning:
- Invest in a black jacket. And anything you can mix and match. For example. One week wear your black jacket with red pants. The next week wear your black jacket with white pants. Buy clothes that can be switched up and gently accessorized.
- Buy clothes that don’t need to be ironed. Working moms don’t have time for ironing. If you do have to iron, it will probably be for your husband’s clothes. But really, ironing just isn’t fun. So don’t buy clothes that will force you to do this task.
- Step into the right shoes. I never really had Carrie Bradshaw shoe fever. But, remember, with age comes wisdom, so I’ve learned that by having a lot of fashionable shoes, I can really change up outfits.
- Accessories. This is an area where I still need some work. I have sensitive ears, so I can’t just wear any ole earrings. But, you can have a collection of fancy necklaces and bracelets that will jazz up any ensemble and not draw attention that you just wore that black jacket last week.
- Load up on the solids. Men have it easy. They just have to wear a button down shirt and pants in a business casual environment. Ladies, we wear a dress and you know you can’t wear it again for several months because the clock is ticking for when someone will remember the last time you wore it. But, if you do suggestion #1, invest in a black jacket and all things that can be mixed and matched, solids are less remembered than prints. I’m not saying to never invest in some prints, just more in solids.
- Buy a full-length mirror and hand-held mirror, and use them both together. In addition to Gideon’s Bibles, I’d like to recommend we pass out mirrors, because we all know some women don’t bother to look in one before they leave the house. Don’t be that woman. Just ’cause you look good in the front, doesn’t mean it’s working in the back. Check all angles, ladies. If you don’t, everyone else will.
Dress for the job you want
Confession. I’m really not interested in fashion. Maybe like 67% interested. If I had a choice between going to the mall or watching random videos on YouTube, I’d go with the latter. The older I get, the less I like crowds. And I just don’t really enjoy shopping. So for me, fashion is more of a necessity as a professional working mom, rather than something I enjoy. Whether you love to shop or you’re like me and see it as a chore, professional working moms should wear clothes that fit, look professional, and reflect your style.
Sounds easy, right? Nothing is easy when you’re a working mom. But we learn how to master a challenge, overcome it, and move on to the next thing. My biggest challenge with clothes is finding the time in which to go procure them. I am a fan of online shopping, but buying clothes online is a different ballgame.
If you’re a professional career mom, you’ll need to have a variety of clothes to fit different work-related occasions: important meetings with senior or C-level execs, events, conferences, and then there’s dress-down Friday. Some companies have them; some do not. Even though you may be able to wear jeans, you shouldn’t wear your low-rise, holey pair. You also shouldn’t wear a T-shirt. When in doubt about what to wear on a given day or occasion, always dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you want to be a manager, dress like a manager. Just because you may not have the job now does not mean you can’t indicate, through your fashion choices, that you want that job. Initiative will take you far in the professional world.
Working mom bodies
Freaking mom bodies. Someone told me that our bodies change every seven years. My interpretation of that is women get fat in areas where we never had fat before – every seven years. Again, working moms are adept at handling all kinds of challenges, and changing bodies is no different. Since you know bodies change the older we get, you can prepare for how you will handle that.
Losing weight is simple. Eat decent food, monitor the number of calories you consume, and exercise. What’s not easy is being disciplined, remaining consistent, and following through to continue to see results. And of course, handling all those unexpected crises that blow up our schedules and intentions.
I would never change procreating to avoid a changing body. Not for all the money in the world, and not even if that meant I would have a model figure. I embrace my mom body, its curves, its scars, and the fashionable clothing it displays.
Working moms may not be Forever 21, but …
We can sure shop there and not feel guilty about it. Just don’t try to be something you’re not. Like a teenager. Be yourself. Be your age. You are a wise woman who works AND raises a family. That’s amazing, and not everyone can do what you do. Stay Forever 21 in your drive and spirit to accomplish what others call impossible, and show them while looking fabulous and fashionable.