Frazzled but Fabulous: Working Mom Fashion Advice

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How do you stay stylish when you have almost no time to put together your look? Check out these savvy tips for working mom fashion success.

In previous posts I have confessed mommy mishaps and secrets of pseudo success. However, despite any limitations, there are two things I know I’m damn good at:  shopping and putting together an outfit.

Around the age of 5, I began planning what I would wear Monday through Friday in my kindergarten class.  I have always relished time in my bedroom closet – rearranging and organizing my clothes – even when that closet was pint sized.

How do you stay stylish when you have almost no time to put together your look? Check out these savvy tips for working mom fashion success.

Since becoming a working mom and time for everything in life has waned, I have had to readjust the cultivation of this passion.  The thought of writing this working mom fashion post and sharing ideas made me positively giddy with excitement – I would even shop for you.  If the thought of it it makes you sweat and break out in hives, even more reason to read these tips on how to be fashionable, even when you are frazzled:

1. Know your size and style, then choose a few brands/stores that work for you.

No two pants are the same, even from the same store.  And with the plethora of fits, lengths and styles available, shopping can be overwhelming.   Once you know what works, you can streamline your purchases.  I know I wear a 26 short in JCrew and I know how that transfers to  small, medium, etc. When the pants I love go on sale, I purchase them online and in more than one color.

2. Speaking of sale…Do not pay full price for anything. 

Once you know what sizes and styles work for you, let the internet be your guide.  If you sign up to receive emails from your favorite stores, your inbox will be inundated, but you will become privy to any/all sales and discounts.   (For us working moms, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and JCrew are great for this.  The latter two also offer teacher discounts on full price items.)  Knowing your size also makes shopping on flash sale sites scintillating rather than stressful.  Some of my favorites: www.Ideeli.com, www.RueLaLa.com, www.Hautelook.com, and www.zulily.com for kids and moms.  Just be careful – I have been known to get caught up in the rapture of flash sales – much to The Hub’s disdain.  I have Burberry rainboots “just because I would never find them THAT cheap,” and a couple of dresses only suitable for a cruise or a trip to Vegas, neither of which I am taking any time soon.

3. Splurge on classics you love, skimp on trends you may regret next year.

Even though skinny jeans appear to be here to stay (when I was pregnant, The Gap tried to sell me skinny maternity jeans. Talk about an oxymoron.  If I was Giselle, perhaps), statement necklaces may be gone by late 2014.  Stores are selling them for outrageously high prices and I can’t support it.  However, I have had the same pair of Frye boots for four years and they are still going strong.  (And those Burberry ones will last for-eva!)  A well fitting LBD, crisp white button blouse, a well made wool coat, and a neutral colored bag will become staples in your closet.  Pair the blouse with the chunky necklace for an updated look.  And you if can rock the skinny jeans go for it.  A staple black pant also works wonders.

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4. Mix expensive and inexpensive.

The blouse and necklace are a prime example.  I can also wear an expensive dress and cinch it with a belt from Target.  If you abide by the classic and trend tip, mixing and matching becomes second nature.

5. Don’t be afraid of consignment shops.

Many sell designer items and you can even shop online.  The Real Real is a little expensive, but they have quality clothes and accessories.  Second Time Around only accepts quality name brands and their store locations are expanding.  If you have the time, I know many moms who consign their clothes for extra cash as well.  You can Google or hop on Yelp for consignment stores in your area.

6. Have one store credit card

The Hubs would NOT condone this, but hear me out.  If you are a responsible human, having one store card will get you major discounts and make shopping online faster and easier.  The one I like best is The Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy.  You can use any one at all three stores and points and discounts apply.  You can also shop for the whole family at once.  I bought Charlee and Joey winter coats at Baby Gap and then clicked on Banana where I found a wrap dress for me and a button down for The Hubs – all at 40% off with twenty dollars in reward points.  Piperlime.com and Athleta are also affiliated and have great deals for work, weekend and for working out.  (You know, for that extra hour in the day we all have…)

7. Find a good tailor.

This can be annoying and cost a little extra, but like a bad bra, things go south when they don’t fit properly.  I found a beautiful pair of wool pants from Anthropologie on clearance; they were petite, but they still needed tailoring for my 5’2” frame.  I paid $36.00 for them, plus $7.40 to the tailor and have worn them once a week. They were originally $136.00.  #worthit

8. Find the time and sift through your closet.

Although there are time and budget constraints in life, terms like “shop your closet” and “stay-cation” make me cringe.  However, rummaging through my stuff and accepting what does not work and what will never be worn is liberating.  I can rediscover classic treasures and make one pile for Goodwill and another pile for Goodgod.

9. Finally, once you know your size, know your profession.

I am 40 and a teacher so bebe is out, but I’m not ready for Talbots.  I can wear jeans on Fridays, but I need to pair them with a blouse, blazer and boots.  My job teaching eighth graders keeps me up to date on trends, but even if I secretly covet their sparkly Uggs, I may look insane if I wear them.  Bottom line – whether we work in a classroom, office or from our home,  we all have to dress within the confines of our profession, but that doesn’t mean we have to be boring.

10. Here’s a list of websites and brands– some mentioned and some not – you can click and shop!  Next month look for working mom beauty tips.  Happy shopping!

www.Ideeli.com                                    www.TheRealReal.com             www.LastCall.com

www.Hautelook.com                                    www.Gilt.com                         www.zulily.com

www.ruelala.com                                    www.thebudgetbabe.com

Banana Republic, Gap, Ann Taylor, JCrew, Nordstrom Rack, Second Time Around

Dana Ferraro

Dana became a mom later in life, blessed with her son, Joey, when she was 37, and her daughter, Charlee, at 39. A born-and-bred New Yorker, she transplanted to Connecticut upon the birth of Joey in 2010. This fall will mark year 13 teaching students who have shuffled in and out of her eighth grade classroom in Westchester County, NY.

8 Comments

  1. Thank you. After baby two I feel like I have lost all ability to put together a stylish outfit. Buying something other than yoga pants is my goal for the end of first quarter.

  2. Dana, I need to take a note from you, and this post. Since becoming a mother, I just grab the first clean clothes I can find on the floor each morning. You’ve given me motivation to do better. Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Ladies. It’s so hard to get motivated to do anything when we are all sleep deprived and juggling life and work. Getting dressed (in something other than my Old Navy sweats) makes me feel closer to normal. Not to mention I just love pretty stuff!! Thank you for reading.

  4. This is such great advice! I am totally frumpy and unfabulous. Maybe if I follow even just a FEW of your tips, I will be a little more stylin’. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Thanks for reading, Susan! I have to find some way to reap benefits of what could be a mild addiction to clothing. It feels great to be able to help ladies of WMAG.

  6. A little late to the party, but this is a great (realistic) post on fashion for working women of any kind, including mothers. I totally agree with finding your store and size and committing to it, and the idea of being okay with buying clothes for your profession. I also have a Banana card – can you believe that Piperlime is going under? Such a shame.

    I’m putting Frye boots on the “lasts-forever-so-just-buy-them-dummy” list.

  7. […] Featured Image: Working Moms Against Guilt […]

  8. […] As a student, a new year meant sharpened pencils, locker organizers, a school planner filled in with colorful pen, and a closet of new clothes for the upcoming year. Now, as an adult and a teacher, a new year still means sharpened pencils, combined with fresh lesson plans, home/closet organizers, and even with a smart phone and an iPad, it still means a colorful, old-school handwritten calendar. And of course, a closet full of clothes for the new school year. (You will understand that one when you read my fashion tips for the working mom.) […]

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