I’m not a parent, I know nothing about being a mom.  But what I do know a lot about is dressing moms, especially busy ones.  In today’s wear-to-work post, and in honor of Mother’s Day, I am dedicating it to all the working mothers out there (happy Mother’s Day to you) and how to be a stylish working mom.

Working moms are the great multitaskers and they need a wardrobe that does the same, multitasks.  While everyone talks about how to take a look from desk to dinner, I think it is more important to talk about how to take a look from work to weekend, especially when you are a work and raise a family and your life can go from boardroom to sandbox in minutes.  One of the best ways to go about creating a wardrobe that functions for all areas of the working mom’s life is to split a wardrobe up into three parts, the professional part, the hybrid part and the casual part, with the hybrid part of the wardrobe being the biggest.

Here is an explanation of each.

The professional part of the working mom wardrobe

The professional part of a working mom’s wardrobe consists of all items that are work only, like suits, professional skirts, corporate work dresses, tops and blazers.  These pieces, while useful for the office, a woman rarely sees as something she would grab for weekend plans.  Typically these are tailored pieces, more investment driven and classic.  The working mom doesn’t need a ton of these items, she just needs good, well made pieces that can easily be changed up.

The causal part of the working mom wardrobe

The casual part of the working mom’s wardrobe consists of the pieces that she would never wear to work.  These may be casual capris, relaxed t-shirts, shorts, denim jackets, easy cardigans and summer sundresses.  Despite the casual nature of the working mom’s life, a ton of super casual stuff isn’t needed either.  If you think about it, there are only two weekends days and very little downtime during the week.  A few super casual pieces will do just fine.

The hybrid part of the working mom wardrobe

The hybrid part of the working mom wardrobe is the most critical part because these items can be worn both casually and professionally, depending on how they are used.  Often these are great tops, a few dresses, some skirts, cardigans, cotton pants and blazers.  Pieces get marked as hybrid pieces when a working mom can identify that, depending on what she pairs with it, the piece can either be worn to work or casually.  Often, when I am with a client who is a working mom, when we can identify that it is a piece that she can wear with jeans on the weekends or under a suit for work, for example, we know the piece will get a lot of use.  This hybrid part of the working mom’s wardrobe needs to be the biggest because it will have the highest level of function.

How to be a stylish working mom

Here are some outfit examples of my advice above to show how easily a hybrid item can go from work to casual to super casual with just a few changes.  Of course, depending on the type of job a mom has the work items may vary slightly but, for the sake of example, here are some ways to consider getting the most out of your wardrobe.  There are 24 outfit options here, using only a few pieces, but you could probably get even more.  What you will also notice is I only used three pairs of shoes, a corporate nude pair, a pair of fun weekend wedges and a pair of super casual sandals, for the looks and just one bag.  My thinking was that a busy mom rarely has time for a bag change so I chose one that could cross-function.

Take a look at the outfits and tips below to help you craft a wardrobe that for both work and play.  And you don’t have to be working mom, or a mom at all to reap the benefits of these tips.  Even though I don’t have children, I plan my wardrobe choices much the same way.

Outfits #1- The knit summer dress

I love the idea of an easy knit summer dress being changed up with just some accessory changes.  As you see here, I took this olive Modcloth dress and styled it with this ivory Boden blazer for work with a pair nude Cole Haan pumps, a long gold Banana Republic necklace and braided Lauren Ralph Lauren belt.

Next, for a dressier weekend look, the same dress is styled with a pink pair of Dr. Scholl’s wedges, a colorful Anthropologie bib necklace and, lastly, for super casual, I styled this dress with a pair of gold Birkenstock Gizehs, a J. Crew linen cardigan and blue Bauble Bar earrings.  All outfits are styled using this gold Banana Republic tote bag.

Outfits #2- A white t-shirt

There are different types of white t-shirts out there.  Some you wear to wash the dog and clean the house and others are nice enough to wear under a suit.  Take this white t-shirt from Modcloth.  It’s nice enough to wear with this Reiss jacket and skirt and the blue Bauble Bar earrings and nude pumps,  yet can be casual enough to wear with a pair of denim Bermuda shorts, the gold sandals, gold necklace, linen cardigan used earlier or a pair of red denim crop jeans, Anthropologie necklace and the gold Birkenstock sandals.   The same gold tote is used again, for all outfits.

Outfits #3

Next, this white blouse from T. Tahari that looks great work work.  I styled it with navy work pants, nude pumps, blue earrings and belted it with the braided belt used earlier.  For casual, I took the same blouse and paired with the olive pants, gold sandals and long Banana Republic necklace.  For the last casual look, I belted the top again and styled with a Boden a-line skirt, the same blue earrings from the work look and pink wedges.  And, of course, the gold bag is used again.

Outfits #4

In these outfits I take this top and style it with a pink pencil skirt and the cream blazer from Boden to make a great work look using the nude pumps and long gold necklace.  Using this top to create some casual looks I styled it next with olive pants, Anthropologie necklace and pink wedges.  Lastly, for an even more casual look, the top is paired with the denim shorts, gold sandals and blue earrings.  The metallic bag continues to work with all of the outfits.

Outfits #5

Going back to that a-line skirt from Boden, not only is it a great weekend skirt but it can also work for a dress casual office, if styled right.  For work, I paired it with a navy J. Crew 3/4 scoop neck top, cream blazer, long gold necklace and nude pumps.  Next, for a dressier casual look, I kept the skirt and t-shirt the same and added a green cardigan over it, styled the outfit with the Anthropologie necklace and pink wedges.  For the last look, the outfit is simply the white t-shirt, blue earrings and gold sandals.

Outfits #6

Next, using this Vince Camuto top, that pairs perfectly underneath a suit, I make it work appropriate with the nude pumps and long gold necklace.  For casual, the first look is styled with the Boden skirt, used previously and pink wedges and long gold necklace and, lastly, I paired the top with the red crop jeans and gold sandals.  The same gold bag continues to work.

Outfits #7

Now, using that navy scoop neck, 3/4 sleeve top from J. Crew again, I create three more looks.  The first work look is styled with the pink pencil skirt and green cardigan that was used casually earlier.  The Anthropologie necklace ties this work look together and the nude pumps give the outfit a professional finish.  For casual, the first look is the navy t-shirt with the olive pants, flat gold sandals, linen cardigan and long gold necklace.  The second casual look is simply the top with denim Bermuda shorts, blue earrings and the gold sandals.

Outfits #8

Lastly, a summer dress.  Often a cotton printed shift dress can go to work and be worn on the weekends.  It’s all in the styling.  A dress like this can be great if you have a day event to attend, like a shower or casual wedding.  It can also be made super casual with a flat gold sandal.  For a work look, I take this T. Tahari dress and style it with the nude pumps, the cream blazer and the long gold necklace.  For a dressy, casual event, I took the same dress and paired it with the green cardigan, Anthropologie necklace and pink wedges.  Lastly, for super causal, it is simply styled with flat gold sandals.

Before I finish up this post, one thing you may be questioning is if you would actually take a top that you wear to work and wear it in a super casual manner, perhaps it is too precious?  If this is the case for you consider down-cycling.  Down-cycling means to slowly downgrade items.  So, for example, what starts out as a work top one season is used as a casual top the next season.  Alternatively, you can consider these types of outfits when you need a quick change but don’t want to change your entire outfit, like getting home from work and then running to your son’s baseball game.