Professional businesswomen who have kids at home often tell me they have virtually zero time for themselves. No kidding! Just trying to keep body and soul together is a challenge!
When the children are making endless demands and bosses are doing the same, they tell me their wardrobes take a back seat. Their "look" usually consists of tops and bottoms that are thrown together helter-skelter as they race out the door to drop off the kids at daycare and hope to heaven they at least remembered to wear underwear.
Add the fact that it's currently 95 degrees in the shade and 60 something in the office? Good luck with that.
The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article recently about summer dressing entitled, Baby it's Cold Inside (Style and Travel, June 21, 2012). The author suggests we start with a business appropriate dress that can be changed up easily and that will be the workhorse of our wardrobe.
I could not agree more, and I will further recommend a solid neutral summer color dress like tan, silver-grey or cream. Best summer fabric? A cool cotton blend that breathes, but that also has plenty of stretch. It should skim your body and show very little, if any, embellishments like ruffles or beading. Keep it simple, clean (washable), and flattering. It's perfect. It's the best basic you can possibly own. I have two.
But here's the secret. You'll want to keep a few items at your office (not at home) that will make all the difference.
First, enlist a soft, warm pashmina, or a cardigan sweater as your first line of defense. Not a crumby old one that's all snagged and pilled because it’s been in your office for years now and has forgotten what it’s like to be pretty. Please get rid of that one. It's tacky looking and you are definitely not tacky!
A fresh looking, generously sized pashmina or sweater can be worn as a shawl wrapped around your shoulders and arms or thrown over your legs while sitting at your desk. Keep it wrapped in fresh, white tissue paper and store it in a handy place like your desk drawer.
It's warm, it’s pretty and it's pretty darn practical.
Second, keep a smart-looking, flattering little jacket at work that will be comfortable and handy when you go from your desk to the conference room to meet with a client. Your dress is now dressed up! A little black jacket or blazer will always elevate your look to new heights. The black looks very sophisticated with tan, cream or pale grey. It's polished and professional and when worn over your dress, you will have what's referred to in the fashion world as an "ensemble."
Tres chic, mademoiselle.
Finally, stash a couple of colorful print scarves in your desk drawer. This little touch of style will finish off your dress with a dash of fashion and personality. It says to the world that you are a woman who takes pride in both her appearance and her work. You are a force to be reckoned with (despite the fact it's so cold in the office you can see your breath). Did I mention a scarf would also add considerable warmth?
Okay, now at last you are on your way home after a hard day's work, and you're wearing just your cool cotton dress (with underwear). No scarf, no jacket, no sweater and your kids’ eyes light up when they see you at the day-care door. You made it.
And guess what? You look beautiful.