Like many working moms, I constantly deal with the dilemma of working vs casual attire that splitting my fashion spending wallet every month. I used to work in banking industry which was conservative and quite rigid in professional image thus what I wore to work matter a great deal. I am certain that most career women share my challenges. You know the saying: Dress for the job you want. It is very true in professional environment. And yes, I love dressing up and look good. Who wouldn’t? Hence my constant dilemma:
- Looking good but on a budget
- Looking fun, stylish but professional
- Wardrobe should be easy to maintain and almost ironing free
Those are my 3 guiding principles when shopping for clothes. My daughter (this small but destructive, energetic and constantly-on-the-move mini me) adds another interesting dilemma to my morning routine. It takes me almost 45 minutes every morning to get her ready, so I can only take 30 minutes maximum to get myself ready for work that including makeup, hair, shoes and outfit.
To tackle my fashion/wardrobe dilemma I approach it likes a work issue. First make a list of the “must have”:
- How much I can afford to spend on clothing, makeup and shoes annually?
- How much of my budget can be allocated to work attire vs casual wear?
- How do I want to look?
- How much time can I afford to get ready in the morning: easy! 30 minutes in total. So no ironing and machine washable material is a MUST
You begin to get a picture of me, aren’t you? Yes, I am the budget controller in our household. I am the type of mother who makes list of all the daycares in the surrounding area, then analyzes and ranks them according to a list. Yep…that’s how I select my daughter’s daycare. You may laugh at my neurotic approach, my husband and family do regularly. Getting back to my wardrobe choice dilemma, I consulted my sister on my “must have” list and how to shop smartly based on my priorities. Did I mention, my sister is equally neurotic but in a different way?
We came up with solution for my working mommy’s wardrobe:
- Shop only 4 times a year. This includes: warehouse sales and eBay. By the way, eBay is great place to shop if you know what you are looking for (we buy from a seller call BHFO for past decade).
- Set an annual budget for clothes, makeup and more importantly shoes
- 60% of the clothes should be dress; 20% are suits and 20% are casual ware
- Buy makeup on Gmarket only (or in my world, steal from my sister)
- The clothing material should be iron free and machine washable mostly
Our reasoning is logical:
- Setting shopping limit and budget will more likely keeping me from compulsive purchase and time at the mall so I have more time for other activities that will make me happy
- I spend 8 hrs per day at the office, so logically more of the budget should to be allocated for professional attire. Also, professional attire tend to cost more than casual, so spending more but getting less in outfit quantity
- To keep the “morning routine” to 30 minutes, I can only spend 5 minutes to get an outfit ready, thus dress and suit are logical choice as I don’t waste time putting matching tops and bottoms
- I want to look fresh, fun and professional; hence dresses also work best for me. In general, sheath or A-line, knee-length dresses in jewel tones or tasteful prints couple with solid colour stiletto and neutral accessories do the trick. Moreover, dress never goes out of style in professional working environment if you keep to classic cut like: sheath and A-line.
- I am an Asian make-up converter because… well…My sister converted me. She can tell you endlessly the innovation and benefits of Korean and Japanese makeup. But for me, it is simple: make up and skincare roll into one which saves me time and money.
So far so good
I am happy with the routine I have set. My morning-ready-for-work routine time is reduced by 20 minutes because I don’t have to think how to pair my outfit or iron it. Just a dress and a jacket then I am done! I now have a 20 minutes of morning’s “me time” to leisurely enjoy my ride to work with a cup of matcha latte while listen to music. Don’t discount the “me time”, we can all use a 20 minutes to collect our thoughts and find the small morning bliss to start the day right. And it is important to keep finding the small bliss throughout the day to keep yourself positive and happy.
Lastly, shopping only 4 times a year also means I have more time for myself and family instead of shopping activities. And I feel confident and happy about my clothes. I am not saying it is easy to do. The urge to browse the shops during my lunch hours is still there, but I am determined not to stray. I love to hear your stylish wardrobe story.