Begin/Again: New You, New Shoes

Jan 2, 2024

I don’t want to talk about 2023.  Like an ex-boyfriend whose name should never again be spoken, that year shall never be mentioned again in polite company.  Instead, I want to begin again.  Again.  And I want to start with my wardrobe.

My life has changed dramatically over the last four years.  I’ve changed careers.  I work from home now.  I have a baby.  And yet, my wardrobe hasn’t changed to match.

I own too many silk blouses for a Capitol that I no longer work in.  I don’t own enough tops that can go in the wash, but look like business attire on Zoom.

I own too many sheath dresses, not enough date night dresses.  You know, the kind of dress that’s special and looks great but isn’t work or wedding attire.

I own too many blazers that restrict my ability to lift my arms.  I don’t own enough structured cardigans and knit blazers, which are better suited to my life now.

I own so many sensible, comfortable pumps for the office.  I need nice flats for work.  I need cool shoes to spruce up outfits.

I own way, way too many black leggings.  I need jeans or other casual pants, less Spandex.

This week, I will begin to tackle a few of these issues in the morning post.  It’s time this blog felt more like my real life and my real wardrobe.  And it’s beyond time for me to heal my own wardrobe and stop living in my pre-pandemic clothes like they fit my postpartum body or my WFH lifestyle.

Let’s start with the shoes.  Here are four pairs of shoes that can help freshen up your wardrobe (and mine), some can be had at a discount.

Ballet Flats // I’m retiring several pairs of Rothy’s in favor of some new flats.  These Madewell ballet flats are an easy choice.  These were trendy last spring and instead of getting stale, they became a modern take on a classic.  I also like these Jeffrey Campbell flats, the style is a bit more fashion forward.

Mirrored Pumps // I know, I know.  You’re saying to yourself, “You just said you were going to rebuild a more casual WFH-Mom wardrobe!”  And while it might seem like it at first blush, these mirrored pumps from J.Crew are a utility purchase.  Let me explain.

A pair of stylish jeans and a great sweater is a nice look for a casual dinner, add a pair of mirrored pumps and it’s suddenly a cool outfit with a little something extra.  Sure, you wore this outfit to the grocery store today, but with a shiny pump, a chic earring and a fresh coat of lipstick, it’s something new.  They’re a statement piece.

Athletic Shoes // I bought these Adidas Swift Run sneakers at the end of last year and I still love them.  They’re the perfect thing to throw on with leggings or jeans when you need to run an errand or pack up the family for a casual breakfast at a diner.  The leopard print makes them a but more stylish, but they still go with everything because the color palette is neutral.  They’re currently on sale for under-$60, so I thought they deserved a spot here.

Drivers // While the ballet flats above fit into my wardrobe like a glove, sometimes I need more cushion and comfort than they can provide.  Maybe I’m walking a toddler through a mall on a winter day to get in some steps.  Maybe I’m headed out on a business trip and need to change terminals when I change planes.  Maybe my feet need a shoe that feels like a slipper but isn’t.

These M.Gemi Drivers are incredible.  They’re a shoe that actually gets better the more you wear them.  They come in neutral colors and a handful with a bit more pop (love the forest green), but whichever you choose, they’ll breathe a classic vibe into casual outfits.  Need something under-$125?  These Cole Haan Evelyn Drivers are the pick.

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Building a Wardrobe, Posts, Style

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  1. Kate says:

    This is *exactly* what I need. I’ve had a major career shift, primarily work from home but am on Zoom daily with clients, and also have a 6 year old and a baby. But my work clothes are from when I had the 6 year old, and anything newer is from when I was going to the office every day. I rotate the same leggings and old sweaters that aren’t quite right for my life or my body any longer.

  2. Anna says:

    I’m in exactly the same place, can’t wait to see what you share! Can this include a post on bags?

    My black belt bag has developed a hole and I’m not sure what to replace it with. I want something that I can throw in the bottom of a stroller or fits in my diaper bag (so probably nylon??), but also that I can take to work and run out to grab lunch with the one day a week I’m in the office. Am I asking one bag to do to much? What shape is currently on trend for this type of thing?

  3. Elizabeth Scott says:

    I love this! I’m back in the office three days now, but I’m married with a baby on the way compared to a dating girl who worked five days in the office wearing lots of sheath dresses when the pandemic hit. Times and life changed, clothes need to change too!

  4. Carissa B Holmes says:

    YES. Please. I have no idea how to dress anymore and everything is confusing. Outfits are confusing. Putting things together that feel chic is confusing. WFH but don’t want to look like a total slob all the time. Yes. A refresh, please!

  5. Liz says:

    Great post! Single and no kids- but also in a new career and stage of life.

    Old career was school admin, conservative and professional. New- office admin in a new field, can wear more stylish clothes that fit my petite five foot size, and no more supervising others (huge mental health plus.)

    Please share ideas for petite, both going out for dates at night and stylish in an office- please. 😊

    • Sara says:

      I’m also a 5’0 gal – I work in politics in Seattle so while my normal attire is business casual, if I’m going to the Capitol or know an elected is coming in the office I need to dress it up.
      Banana Republic, Anthropologie, and Boden (selectively, it leans a little too preppy/way too many colored prints for my taste) for perfect-fitting pants, skirts, and sweaters that I can wear to both work and to drinks with friends. I also just discovered Short Story, a clothing box designed for petite gals and you can fill out a style profile. I REALLY like it, kind of like StitchFix but far less annoying & you can request higher-priced brands, too – though most items in my box are under $75! Here’s a link if you want to try:
      (Referral link, but it saves you $25)

  6. Jill says:

    Thank you! I am really looking forward to this content as I also work from home, in a casual industry (but I want to look professional) and have young kids. I am particularly interested in machine washable tops that look nice on Zoom, feel like a sweatshirt or tshirt, and pair with athleisure bottoms. That’s a primary category in my wardrobe.

  7. Samantha R. says:

    This post couldn’t have been more timely. I’m going to transition out of my industry of a decade plus to SAHM for a bit at the end of this quarter. I need style AND utility for my next season of life. Baby/Toddler/Dog friendly is always a win in my book.

  8. S says:

    Echoing some of the other comments, I so appreciate that you are doing this series. You are not alone in the shift – I’ve been on a similar path of career transitions/WFH and parenthood. Can’t wait to see what you feature!

  9. A says:

    Omg do I hear you on the sheath work dresses. Lord help me I have a closet full of them (amazing ones!) that have not been worn in, um, years now. I do not think they will come back in style. The pandemic made them obsolete. But it feels oh so heavy to part with them. Like that part of my life is over. Long term storage suggestions? At this point maybe I need to put em away until they are fully “vintage.”

  10. Anna says:

    So much YES! Also a year into mom-hood, mostly work from home, and have no idea how to dress post baby/pandemic. Nothing fits. Everything looks dated. My office is also business casual and in the PNW, so formal is a black puffer. I’m not quite at mirrored pump level but looking forward to this content.

  11. FAN From boston says:

    Amen, sister. Here’s to a refresh! My biggest wardrobe refresh need is pants that are not joggers/leggings/jeans. Pre-pandemic I was a SAHM with elementary school aged kids; post-pandemic (whatever “post” means, says a woman who just had a COVID Christmas…), parenting requires somewhat less athleisure and I’m working again, 3-4 days per week in office, in a business casual environment – I can get away with leggings and jeans as needed/desired but am ready to up my game.

  12. K says:

    Bless you. I’m at a different life stage than you, but the feel of where you’re at with your wardrobe is familiar. I’ll be giving these posts a closer read.

    Question- what’s the difference between drivers and loafers?

    • Belle says:

      The soles on drivers are constructed slightly differently, extending over the heel to protect the shoe while driving. Loafers there is no sole on the heel, just the bottom.

      • Sara says:

        I had no idea. Thanks for the intel! I was just contemplating those m.gemi drivers yesterday, it might be the universe saying I NEED them after this post…

  13. Jen says:

    Why are you getting rid of your Rothy’s? Just curious if you think they are out this year…or are they just getting stale in your wardrobe? I have several of pairs of Rothy’s, but I recently bought two pairs of cheap knit flats on Amazon and I like them better than my Rothy’s. Much more roomy and comfortable. Just thought I would share….these red loafers:
    and these simple black ones:
    I do love my Rothy’s white sneakers though.

    • Belle says:

      I will keep the big cat ones and probably the beige ones. However, I’ve been feeling like I have too many for how much I wear them now. I think I would rather have a few different styles.

  14. Michelle says:

    I’m not quite in the same boat but excited for more of this content! I bought my first pair of drivers this year and they have very quickly become my favorites. I love the Rothy’s drivers, actually – so comfortable and they have tons of fun colors. They go with so many different types of outfits!

    • Anna says:

      Drivers to me are a symbol of a classic, sophisticated mom. I just bought my first pair this year too and feel so put together when I wear them.

  15. Kim says:

    Love the M. Gemi drivers! They’re so comfortable.

    It’s not shoes, but Amour Vert makes really great blouses/tops that are easily dressed up for work or worn with jeans/sneakers for just running around. I wash all mine in the machine and hang to dry.

  16. Kelly says:

    I don’t even remember how I was putting together work outfits in 2019, but all those clothes are still in my closet. I keep putting off clearing out the things I haven’t worn in literal years as if I’m hoping that by waiting long enough maybe, just maybe, the world will turn backwards and all those clothes fit back in my life again.

  17. TheLOOP says:

    I really appreciate this series! May I add a twist to this scenario if you are up for it? I WFH but also travel regularly for team meetings and conferences. My previous office workwear of sheath dresses and pencil skirts feels too dated for these conferences, especially as I prefer to wear flats so I can be on my feet all day. But I also don’t know how to re-wear items so that it doesn’t look like I show up in the same outfit for every onsite or retreat. I have ended up buying too many outfits that I wore only once for travel and onsite. Is there a capsule wardrobe or ways to mix up WFH pieces with a few more formal items to create looks that don’t feel repetitive?

    • K says:

      This! I have probably 4-5 onsites and conferences per year, varying times of year and climates. I need to look professional for those even though the rest of the time I’m mostly wearing jeans with flats or sneakers.

  18. DC says:

    So excited for this!

    I’d love for you to do a closet cleanout post and let us know what of these items you’re keeping/upgrading/donating! I keep convincing myself that I’ll be back to sheaths and heels sometime soon but in reality that seems less than likely…

  19. S says:

    I own a version of all of these: a pump, a ballet flat, a sneaker and a loafer. But I have trouble in the winter bc they don’t work for winter. Except for the sneaker, you can’t really wear socks with there (at least not comfortable warm ones). The difficulty is finding the right boot or bootie to get you through the winter until you can start wearing these again in Spring or Summer (depending on your climate).

    • Naomi says:

      I agree, S – styling these shoes in the winter is a real struggle. There seems to be a trend towards either cropped pants (no thank you, cold ankles) or wide leg, which I have trouble styling, as well. Where pants should hit on the leg is also a new dilemma I never used to worry about, but now it seems that fashion rules have shifted. It’s tough!

  20. cjr says:

    Thanks for putting into words something I’ve been feeling for months! Look forward to the inspiration!

  21. Anna Bailie says:

    Agreed on this post also being relevant to me! I am on my second maternity leave with no more babies in my future and a different body and a likely outdated professional wardrobe for when I do return to work.

  22. Lia says:

    Wow, this is the post I didn’t know I needed. I still lobby Congress but have a hybrid work schedule and go to the hill maybe 4-5 times a month. I need a stylish wardrobe for the other 80% of my life that includes all the things you mentioned. I’m very excited for future posts.

  23. Natalie says:

    I have the Madewell flats and because they are real leather, they are so comfortable. Get some blister stick to use on the first wear, but after that, they are like butter!

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