I must confess that for all my high-falutin' taste in television (and it is high!...and falutin'!), one of my all-time favourite TV shows is a TLC "reality" show: What Not to Wear. The Husband thinks that it is akin to watching paint dry, but I can't get enough of it. I record it weekly and watch it, secretly laughing at all the terrible fashion mistakes people make. That's what reality tv is best at, no? Making its audience feel better by allowing them the opportunity to say "Well, I may be bad, but I'm not as bad as that."
Then the Husband came home the other week saying that he had a presentation to do which included a section on 'what not to wear to client meetings', and could he photograph me in some before and after shots wearing appropriate and inappropriate work wear?
My first thought? Sure! I'm an attention-whore. Let's do it.
My second thought? Oh crap. I don't actually have anything in my wardrobe that I would consider appropriate to wear to work. (Nevermind that I've worked in an office since leaving university. AND I was about to return to work after my second mat leave.) I AM as bad as that.
But wait! I have excuses! I've been pregnant 18 months out of the last five years, and I had to spend what little money I had on stinky maternity wear! I've been on mat leave for two years and nobody cared what I wore! And the babe(s) spat up on everything anyway! When I was back at work, I hadn't lost all the baby weight, so none of my clothes fit properly, and why lose all the weight anyways when I was just going to get preggers again?!
I know what Stacy and Clinton would say, I mean I have watched the show since it's inception...You have to dress the body as it is now, not as you wish it would be. It's not okay to wear sloppy clothes unless you don't plan on leaving the house. Clunky shoes are not appropriate. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Though I kowtow to them on all matters fashion-related (they really do know what they're talking about), I'm not entirely sure that their advice is meant for us commonfolk.
But, one of my favourite acting teachers said that if you have to do a regular job in between acting gigs, the best thing that you can do for your acting is to do that job 100%. Be the job. Look the job. Play the role. So with all due respect to the Dynamic Fashion Duo here are my new! improved! rules for all us non-wealthy, no-time to shop, no time to get ready working mothers:
1. Skechers are not work-appropriate, no matter how much they look like a dress shoe. And if you're thirty-something like me, that goes double. I sucked it up and turned in the velcro for heels. I found some awesome deals at Stylesense and Nine West in my new favourite shopping mall: Vaughan Mills. [Caveat: Don't throw out the Skechers. I wear them for the daycare dropoffs, and change into heels before I hit the subway. Running with two kids and a stroller in heels, not so fun.]
2. Investing in "pieces" for your wardrobe is for the birds. Yeah, I'd like to spend $300 on a pair of pants, too, but I certainly don't have that kind of money. Do you? I think that you should buy as many decent, work-appropriate items that you can. Make sure they co-ordinate, and shop the sales. That way if the baby vomits on you, or you get stroller-grease on your pants, it's not a tragedy. You have lots more to wear, and the laundry can wait till the weekend. My current mistress is Joe Fresh. The clothing line is supposedly made by the same people as the more expensive Banana Republic (no wonder I like them so much).
3. You shouldn't wear cotton long-sleeved t-shirts all the time, just because you don't have time to iron, and hate ironing anyways. Buy some nice sweater tops that are chic. Layer vest, sweaters or jackets over the button down shirts and nobody will notice that you don't iron. Buy one of those trendy super-long sweaters and blouson it out over a thin or chain-link belt - it looks good over dress pants or jeans. Buy clothes that look like they need to be ironed, but have some stretch in them: good for expanding tummies and don't need to be ironed as often.
4. Blind them with shiny. Fastest way to update your wardrobe is with accessories. Right now, I'm big on tights from Hue. I'm also crazy keen on Lavishy necklaces. Inexpensive and trendy little gems that can go from casual to office-ready with the right combination. They also have some great handbags for those of you with a penchant. But the best thing about accessories - I'm hoping that people notice them, and not the wrinkles or the holes in my clothing (which, btw, apparently also not appropriate for work - who knew??)
5. Plan ahead. Key, key, key thing for every working mother. Funny how I just cottoned on to this a couple weeks ago. Lay out your clothes the night before. Lay out everything: underwear, tights, jewellery, belt, watch, pants, shirt...EVERYTHING. Lay out your kid's clothes. Lay out your outerwear and shoes. Hot damn does this save time in the morning! No more futzing around! No more decisions! Just get dressed already! Takes time at night, but saves time in the morning. Best thing I ever did. (Why, oh why, did I never do this before?)
6. Sloppy clothes are not the devil. I love looking nice for work, but at the end of the day, I really really really look forward to taking off the fancy clothes and slipping into my Fat Pants. Can't you just hear the sigh of relief? Say what you will Stacy and Clinton...the Fat Pants are here to stay.
Okay, so we're on Day 4 of my first week back at work, and at least I look like I belong in an office. Any advice you want to add on how I can keep up this new professional outlook??