How Have You Adjusted Your Wardrobe After Life Transitions?

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group of young people sit in a business casual office

Here’s a maybe weird question for today: How have you adjusted your wardrobe after different life transitions? These are some broad definitions, but I think all of them would count as a Before and an After in your life, if that makes sense. This might be anything below:

  • your first job after college or grad school
  • getting a pet
  • a return to grad school after working for a few years
  • promotion / or job change (such as firm to in house, or from a conservative office dress code to a business casual one)
  • changing your commuting style like walking, driving, biking, public transportation
  • motherhood, marriage, divorce, eldercare
  • flexibility changes, such as working from home, having a hybrid office, having to return to the office
  • retirement

How I’ve Changed My Wardrobe Over Various Life Transitions

Looking back, I definitely changed my wardrobe after various life transitions, in pretty major ways.

(First job to college: I didn’t change my wardrobe enough, honestly — it was the heyday of Express so the Editor/Columnist pants were already in my wardrobe, but some of my skirts were way too short…)

Going back to law school — I think I worked for about 18 months before going back to school, in part because I finished college in December. At the time, I certainly felt SO MUCH OLDER than the straight-from-college kids, which of course is laughable at this point. My wardrobe changed in that I refused to go back to college things like backpacks, and I reveled in the newfound freedom to wear jeans whenever I wanted.

Law school to law firm — suitmania! I bought a ton of suits and a lot more blazers.

Conservative office to business casual office — this one threw me for a loop because I really liked my sheath dresses and blazers, and I struggled with what was “my style” versus what was stuff that I wore because of my circumstances. (And, if “my style” wasn’t really appropriate in my business casual office, how could I adapt it in a way that “felt” like me?) I wound up adding a lot of 5-pocket pants that were cut like jeans, and I had a denim blazer that I wore over some of my more conservative looks like a monochromatic shirt/pants or a sheath dress.

Marriage / first apartment purchase — We bought our first apartment less than a year after getting married, so a lot of that time was feeling like we were house poor (and had renovation goals, ha), so new clothing purchases weren’t at the top of the priority list. I will also say that marriage changed my wardrobe in that I chose comfort over appearance a lot of times, if that makes sense — switching to lower heels or flats that I could walk in, non-stabby bras, etc.

Motherhood — the big changes here were washable clothes (even washable coats — I’ve told my story of my toddler’s yogurt-covered hands and my cashmere coat before, le sigh) — and shoes that take very little time to put on, preferably slip-on. I also had primarily been a “dresses in the summer” kind of girl (vs shorts), but after a certain point it felt weird sitting on the floor with my kiddo without changing into pants — plus I didn’t want to fuss with dresses and skirts if I had to run after him or pick him up quickly.

Working from Home — I only started working from home about 5 months before my first son was born, so motherhood and WFH are definitely conflated in my mind, along with the attendant mom guilt/mom time crunch of “I don’t have time to spend on my appearance because I should either be working or mothering.”

I’m curious, readers — did you change your wardrobe(s) after life transitions? How so?

Stock photo via Stencil.

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