Wardrobe planning for life changes

Are you making a big change in your work life or personal life? Your wardrobe might need to change too! Here are some scenarios where you may need a wardrobe refresh:

  • Retiring from work
  • Staying home with children
  • Switching to a corporate-casual job
  • Switching to a corporate-business-dress job
  • Moving up, taking a promotion
  • Working from home or telecommuting
  • Changing industries in which you work
  • Losing a lot of weight 
  • Gaining weight
  • Expecting a baby

How do you plan a wardrobe for these changes? Planning your day is a good way to see what you need. If your day will involve a lot of high-level meetings with staff, since you've taken a CEO job, you'll need more professional dress  - unless you're changing industries and moving to high tech, then you'll need more casual, youthful clothes! Thinking about your day and anticipating whom you'll be with and what you'll be doing - and what image you want to project - will help you think about what you need to add to your wardrobe. 

Let's use two examples: changing career into another industry and retiring (or staying home with children)

Changing careers into high tech industry wardrobe planning:

  • Job functions involve working with a lot of twenty-somethings just out of college
  • Job allows casual clothing, including jeans, shorts, and tee shirts
  • Meetings will involve high level executives (or you ARE the high level executive)
  • Days will run into evening events

You will probably need a mix of upbeat, youthful professional clothing and some more casual items like jeans. Taking a look at your wardrobe of business-professional clothing (if you came from, say, banking), you determine you have a lot of suits. 

Business casual at a high tech firm will involve more casual pants and skirts, so consider adding:

  • A trendy pant shape - right now this is a "mini" boot cut - a narrow cut pant with a slight flare (try the Pants for Wovens #1010)  OR a tapered/skinny ankle length pleated pant, often in a print (try the Cuff Pant)
  • A shorter skirt: twenty somethings can get away with mid-thigh skirts, but those in their midcareer 40s should stick with no more than 4-5" above the knees (about a hand's length)
  • A longer skirt: maxi skirts are popular in the summer - you can lengthen any A-line skirt to maxi length, and any straight skirt with a side slit to maxi length.
  • A pencil skirt: above the knee, worn with a casual drapey top and flat shoes
  • Fun tops add pizzaz to any outfit and right now looser tops with a 'half tuck' in to pleated pants or worn loose over slim pants or skirts are popular. Go wild with bright colors, prints and fun on any style top or blouse you like. Shirttail hems are especially popular when worn untucked and can be drawn on any pattern with a straight hem.  
  • You can then wear fun tops with your suit skirts paired with trendy sandals or shoes, or a blazer from your suits over a casual pair of pleated print pants and platform wedge sandals to project a youthful yet professional look. 
  • Comfortable knit dresses that pack well for business travel but do double duty for evening events. If you're in high tech in Denver in the winter, this might be a turtleneck dress with a down vest and tall boots. If you're in Miami in the summer, try a sleeveless wrap dress paired with wedge sandals.

Working from home, retiring and staying home with children all require a wardrobe change. You'll look silly putting on a suit to go down the hall to your new home office or to take the kids or grandkids to the park. What do you need for a work-at-home or a stay-at-home life? Ask yourself what your daily activities will entail. They might be volunteering, pursuing hobbies like crafts and sewing, and lunches or outings with friends. If you're staying home with small children, a washable wardrobe of comfortable garments that look better than sweats but FEEL like sweats will be key. 

  • Casual tops in fun prints and colors
  • Pants in comfortable knit solids with fun prints for added wardrobe excitement
  • A dress or two - a tee dress or two (or a turtleneck dress or two) is easy to toss on with shoes or boots and head out the door. And knit dresses feel like nightgowns; trust us, we have occasionally slept in a tee dress and worn it the next day!
  • Casual skirts, especially longer maxi length, work well for moms who are on the ground with small children a lot
  • Jeans, worn with a top that is way beyond a boxy cotton tee, and a knit blazer or jacket is a great casual look. We recommend adding accessories like jewelry or scarves and carrying a great handbag.
  • Ditch the athletic shoes and go for cute flats, boots or sandals instead
  • Add a couple of knit or casual jackets - they add polish but feel like cardigans

It's easy to fall into a 'I can wear sweatpants and pajamas' mode when working from home or staying home, but resist. A wardrobe of stylish knit separates is just as comfortable, and a whole lot better looking! That run to the post office or the coffee shop will be much more fashionable.