How to get your wardrobe back on track after a break

By Sally Smy, personal stylist and founder of Queen Bee Styling.

Unlike spring and summer (which arrive very slowly), autumn seems to arrive at break-neck speed once we return from the summer holidays. One week we are wearing shorts then September arrives and we are reaching for our coats! Whether you have had a short holiday or a longer career break, choosing what to wear when you have had some time out of the workplace can be daunting. Nowadays dress codes are very broad and whilst that means flexibility in how we dress, it can also be a minefield of knowing what to choose.

This is an ideal time to review your wardrobe and consider the image you would like to present at work. Like it or not, your image is an important part of your personal brand and sends out a message to your colleagues and others you work with. Most importantly, feeling great in how you look is a short cut to boosting your confidence and can maximise the impact you have in your role – it may even get you a promotion!

Please be reassured that you DO NOT have to be a size 10, perfectly made-up or spend a fortune on the latest designer trends.  It DOES require some planning, effort and time, but the results will be well worth it. I guarantee you will save money in the long run and you may even enjoy the process…it beats ironing!

Here are the three simple steps you need to take to help you do this. They are simple and effective and, as well as following them myself when I returned to work after maternity leave, they have worked for hundreds of clients that I work with. Simple doesn’t necessarily equate to easy, however but if you follow the steps I guarantee you will get your work style back on track and avoid the frustration of what to wear in the mornings:-

STEP 1 – Declutter your wardrobe

It is true that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Be ruthless! Go through all your clothes and throw out anything that doesn’t fit, flatter or make you feel great. Wearing pieces you love and feel great in will boost your confidence. Don’t be tempted to dig out your old suit that is lurking in the back of your wardrobe - chances are the style will be out of date even if it does fit you! You really do not need to have a huge amount of clothes, every item should have a place and work hard for you. Superfluous clutter leads to frustration when you are getting dressed in the morning and drains your energy. Pack away seasonal items so you only have styles in your wardrobe that you are currently wearing. Who wants to look at their bikini and mid-winter?

STEP 2 – Understand your personal style

We all have our own unique style. I work with many women who initially say they ‘have no sense of style’ and this is never true – ever! It can take a while to work out but there are some styles that work for us and some that don’t; some styles you like and some you don’t. Understanding what these are is key to simplifying your wardrobe and developing your own style. Start by working out the shapes, colours and styles that flatter your body shape as this immediately reduces the amount you have to choose from. Then move onto the styles you enjoy wearing; for example if you love wearing dresses then look for one or two suitable dresses first. Get some visual inspiration by looking at online brands, Instagram and fashion blogs, and build a mood board of styles you like. Pinterest is useful for this. You do not have to slavishly follow trends but do ensure your wardrobe is current and modern. Audrey Hepburn never felt the need to dress like a hippy chick but neither did she look like Miss Marple!

Step 3 – Make a shopping plan

Once you have gone through the first two steps it will be much easier to focus on just what you need. Write a shopping list - I would suggest limiting yourself to between six and ten items to avoid being overwhelmed. Identify the styles and brands you like and take time to research items online first. Once you have done this, make a plan for a shopping trip and stick to it. This way you’ll be far less likely to wander aimlessly into the crockery department! I do hours of online research and planning for each client before I even hit the shops.

Another point to consider is that it isn’t just about the clothes. Paying attention to hair, nails and make-up will go a long way to making you look polished and professional. Ensure your shoes are heeled and not scuffed. Also, clothes that fit well and are crease free make all the difference

Sally Smy - Personal Stylist and Founder at Queen Bee Styling

Sally helps individuals achieve a wardrobe that gives them confidence and to feel fabulous in the clothes they wear everyday.

Sally had a successful 18-year career in fashion buying working for leading high street retailers before setting up her own business 10 years ago. She now specialises in helping individuals develop their authentic style and achieve a stylish, up to date wardrobe that gives them confidence. Having had what she refers to as her 'beige' period after the birth of her first child, she realised how easy it is to neglect her appearance when dealing with life’s demands. She set up Queen Bee Styling to help people in a similar situation get their style back on track.

A mother of two, she is recommended on The Parenting and Professional panel of experts as well as being a partner of Capability Jane. She presents a regular webinar to support women who are returning to work after a career break. Sally recently contributed to the book 'A New Way for Mothers' by Louise Webster from Beyond The School Run.

She also runs workshops and talks about image and impact, personal branding and other topics for many women's networks and companies. This includes The Department of Media, Culture and Sport and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office."

Telephone:  07956 293845
Email: sally@queenbeestyling
Twitter: @Queenbeestyling

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