Finding Your style when returning to work – By Victoria Kennedy

Hi, I’m Victoria, mum to 2 crazy, lively boys, vintage frock lover, tea drinker and Personal Stylist. I am passionate about empowering women to love being themselves. My style ethos is that ‘you are best at being you’.

So embrace who you are and shout about it for the world to hear! I’m often contacted by women returning to work after having their children. The story is almost always the same, and 99% of the time it boils down to confidence, confidence in ourselves as working women. If you are considering returning to work, read on!

Going back to work after having a baby is a big move, your heart, mind and body are still adjusting to the new ‘normal’ and it can feel very overwhelming and stressful. Usually full of emotional turmoil and a bucket load of ‘mum-guilt’ at the thought of leaving your child.

Whether you took 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years of maternity leave, deciding what to wear to work after having a baby will be different but yet the same for all of us. You may still be carrying baby weight, you may still be breastfeeding and more than likely your confidence will have dipped.

For me, returning to work after the birth of my first son was so daunting. I was absolutely riddled with guilt as well as feeling totally overwhelmed about my ‘new body’ and how to dress for it. Let’s face it, I’d spent the majority of the last 12 months in my new found ‘mummy uniform’- rotating PJ’s for leggings and oversized sweaters. Marry that with a distinct lack of sleep and time to myself meant makeup and hair styling was no longer on my monthly to do list let alone part of my mornings routine!

When deciding to return to work, first and foremost, before thinking about what to wear: 

  1. Be kind to yourself

 Take some time to process the return to work decision in your own head. You may be feeling guilty about leaving your child, you may be feeling guilty about being excited to return to work. All of these feelings are normal. Do not beat yourself up about how you feel. Talk to your partner, friends, family and allow yourself those feelings.

2. Take up the offer of ‘Return to work days’

Going back into work in an informal way, for a chat & coffee can help it feel less daunting. Remember these days are for you to ‘catch up and refresh yourself’ don’t be pushed into working or being pulled into office politics!

3. Take care of yourself

Try to build a routine into the mornings and evenings on the days leading up to your return to work. This will help you ensure you get enough sleep and eat well- returning to work is tiring! Prepare yourself!

So once you’ve found good childcare, figured out logistics, battled tiredness and getting into the ‘work’ frame of mind, you can start to think about what you will wear on the ‘big day’.  This was such a huge challenge for me as I felt I had lost myself. I was ‘mummy’ and knew that role quite well- I knew the uniform! But I had no idea what ‘working Victoria’ looked like these days. Plus I had no idea what suited my new expanse of tummy!

I knew I wanted to return to work feeling confident about myself. I wanted people to see me as a professional, not as a ‘mummy’- which is strange as I have the utmost respect for mums- the jobs a tough one! But I felt, on my return to work, I would be judged by my appearance, that ‘how together’ I looked was a reflection on my ability to be a working mum.

So with that in mind I went shopping with a close friend, someone who had returned to work previously after having her children, and her advice is something I still use regularly with my clients today!

1. New Clothes

Whilst it seems obvious to say buy new clothes- after all we are all familiar with that ‘shiny new item’ feeling- much like the first day back at school adorned head to toe in new gear! But when I say buy new clothes what I really mean is take a good look at your new post baby body shape and buy new pieces that flatter this new fabulous shape.

If you’re unsure of your body shape- take a look at my facebook page for some tips and guidance! Dressing to flatter your shape can make you look slimmer, younger and feel more confident. There is no need to purchase the entire Next Directory- See my next point!

2. Buy 3 or 4 versatile items

For example, buying a black shift or wrap dress (great if breastfeeding/pumping) can be a great investment as you can wear it in different ways- with a blazer, with a scarf, with heels, with boots, with a bright necklace etc.

A great rule I impose on my clients is ‘never buy an item that doesn’t already go with 2 or 3 items you own’- that way you can wear it in many ways. So when you are choosing some new workwear think carefully about how the pieces can be worn to create multiple outfits.
Other good versatile items are;

  • ‘trophy blazers’- bright/jazzy fabric blazers that can be added to outfits to provide colour or texture.
  • Statement jewellery- another great way of adding colour and changing the look of an outfit.
  • Neutral coloured trousers or skirt- these can then be worn with a variety of tops and shoes to create different looks.

3. Bag & Shoes

You’ve probably got the hang of packing the changing bag with every possibility accounted for. You’re used to lugging around the contents of your house- just in case! But when returning to work the contents of your bag is entirely for you. So as well as having the luxury of carrying just your purse and lippy, you can do so in a lovely new bag! Treating yourself to a gorgeous-but- totally-impractical-for-mummy-duty bag can be a great way to bring your personality back into your style.

It’s a way of reminding yourself that ‘you’ are still ‘you’! This can also be the case with shoes! Although an air of practicality may well be needed, depending on your job, but it can be a great confidence boost to walk into work rocking a killer pair of heels! You’ve still got it girl!

Whatever you choose to wear to return to work, above everything else, it should make you feel most like you. Your style is a reflection of your personality as well as your lifestyle and body shape.

We are naturally going to feel most confident when we are being ourselves. Embrace who you are- an amazing women, who has carried and birthed a precious baby, a baby who loves you unconditionally for being their Mama. Return to work with this love in your heart and let your light shine- You are best at being you!

If you would like more tips and advice on finding your style join my ‘Style File’ group on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/groups/107764566603327

Alternatively, book a Personal Styling session with me for an in depth analysis of your shape, colours, style and personality- www.givingyouaboost.wixsite.com/hello

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