Career Q & A: 5 Tips for Going from Work to the Playground in Style
Since I had kids, I seem to look constantly schlubby. My old outfits are too “dry-clean only” to handle the playground but even as a creative, my jeans and old sneakers don’t make a great professional impression — what to do?
— Melissa R.
We all have seen her. She always looks so stylish and put together that it is hard to tell if she is going somewhere amazing or coming back. Her shoes are always fabulous despite the fact that she is running around with her kid. This rare species can usually be found with her young at the playground or school pick-ups and drop-offs.
Let me first remind you that it really is the inside that counts…really! But, that doesn’t mean we, especially us moms, don’t want and need to look awesome. Because when we look and feel great, we perform better as mothers, partners, at the job, etc…you get the point.
Let’s not kid ourselves though.
Finding an outfit that is appropriate for both work and the playground is like getting your kids to bed on time…tricky. Here are a few simple rules and tricks from personal stylist Jeanene Mack to make getting ready in the morning easier.
1. Keep it simple.
When with your kids, less is more. And it just so happens that tons of accessories or make up can also be distracting at work or meeting with clients. If you are someone who just can’t live with out a little sparkle then wear a colorful skirt or pants or some fun shoes.
2. Don’t throw out comfort for style.
I know, I know, you can wipe that look off of your face. I didn’t say wear your sweat pants and Uggs but, when you are juggling play dates, after school activities and business meetings it just isn’t practical to be running around in Louboutins. You can still look chic and avoid blisters on your feet. I am a firm believer in the bootie. Go out and get a versatile (this means neutral) pair of booties with a heel that you are comfortable with. If you like a little height, look for a stacked heel as it will give more stability.
3. Dress for your job.
This seems like an obvious one but you would be surprised at how many women do not dress appropriately for what they do. Let’s put the kids aside for one second (yes, sometimes you can come first) and focus on the work aspect of your attire. A teacher doesn’t need to be running around in a suit any more than a VP of a company should be going to work in her khakis and ballet flats. I am an entrepreneur who helps women find their best selves with fashion, health and self-discovery so, I am lucky to be in a position where i can wear jeans and dress down a bit. However, even if you are in a career like me where casual is ok, you still need to look presentable because you never know when you will run into your next client. When dressing down, I always try to add one piece that will draw attention like a fun blouse or an amazing heel.
4. Layers are our friend.
This is a good rule for all mothers but especially moms of little ones that walk around with sticky fingers. This is not so hard to apply in the cooler months but in the summer you can keep a light weight cardigan in your bag just in case of a spill or spit up. Layering a collared shirt under a sweater is also a good options since you literally can take off one shirt and still have an appropriate work shirt underneath.
5. The bag is essential.
As women, we are naturally bag lovers. I think we have some sort of weird mutation in our chromosomes that make us gravitate towards beautiful bags and shoes. Keep your fun clutch and little hand bag for your nights out and look for practical bags that are appropriate for both work and keeping your kids lovey in.
It doesn’t have to be huge but it should be big enough to carry both your IPad and a few snacks in it. Luckily there are some pretty amazing backpacks out there as well that make almost any outfit look better.
These are just a few simple rules that should help any mom look and feel her best no matter what the day brings. Oh, and make sure to wear a smile! Confidence is the best accessory any woman can have.
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Jeanene Mack is a mother, life and wellness coach, personal stylist and writer who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her 2 lovely daughters, beta fish Donna and pet snail, Victor Slimey.
She has received a BA in Literature and a Masters in Psychoanalysis from Boston University. She left the mental health field behind to start her own business helping woman of all ages become the best version of themselves. She now spends all her time pursuing her dreams of grandeur. See her website and read our interview with her as she discusses work/life balance, and keeping other moms stylish!