I often work with clients through life and professional transitions. As their lives change they seek a style change too. Many of these clients are recently retired and find themselves left with a closet full of clothes from their working days. They don’t want to start over with a new wardrobe but they would like some advice on what from their working days they can get rid of and what they can rework and wear in their third act.
Retirement Style: How to Wear Your Professional Clothing After Retirement
This is a fantastic blog idea; how to take professional clothing and rework it for retirement. Here are some outfits and tips to give you some ideas.
Before we get into the looks, be sure to check out this week’s video of the week about one of my Bridgetteisms: Chicken Outfits.
I was just working with a retired client who asked me to help her figure out which professional clothes to get rid of. She had a lot of blazers. Instead of getting rid of all of them, we kept a few that she could rework and wear more casually.
If you owned a lot of blazers or suits, there is no reason to keep all of these jackets. Depending on your lifestyle, you probably just need a few. The ones you do keep should be current styles, not some bad dated jacket from the 90’s that you’re hoping to rework. Next, the blazers you keep should be able to stand alone, particularly if they were part of a suit. Think more Grace from Grace and Frankie, for example.
If you are thinking that retirement life is all about elastic waists and double knits, there are plenty of women in retirement who still want to maintain a more tailored lifestyle. If this is you, you can try an outfit like this one. I styled this red blazer from Rag & Bone with a dark denim pair of jeans from NYDJ and an ivory knit top from Hobbs. I finished the outfit with a pair of leopard loafers from Sole Society, hoop earrings, a printed scarf from Rimusu and an almond colored bag from Chloé.
After a long, successful career, you probably have investment bags, scarves and jewelry. If you style them for retirement they can be definitely be styled for your new lifestyle.
Next, your shells. Totally usable in retirement. You definitely want to keep those, especially if they are basic. I styled this bone-colored Eileen Fisher shell with a pair of dotted Piazza Sempione ankle pants and a lavender waterfall cardigan from Lilly Pulitzer to create this lovely casual retirement look. I finished the outfit with a pair of light purple loafers from Franco Sarto, a grey handbag from Ted Baker and silver necklace from Kendra Scott.
Wearing work dresses in retirement all depends on the type of dresses you wore to work. If they are super conservative or a little too work looking, they may not translate well into retirement looks. However, with the casualization of the workplace, there is a good chance that you do have dresses that you can wear into retirement.
You want to be sure that your lifestyle supports having these dresses in your life that you could wear to things like casual weddings, luncheons, or other types of events like this. Like your blazers, you want to only want to keep as many dresses that support your lifestyle. If you attend an event here or there, there is no point in keeping half a dozen dresses from your professional years.
The next step would be to style them differently than you would for work. Using how I styled this dress from Lafayette 148 as an example, adding something like a casual cardigan or something like a denim jacket casualizes the dress. You can also choose casual shoes or sandals to dress down a work dress. I finished the outfit with wedge sandals from Vince Camuto, a pendant necklace from Akola and small navy bag from Acne Studios.
I see no reason for anyone in retirement to get rid of their tailored pants. In fact, the entire outfit above could probably work in some workplaces. Keeping a look like this all depends on the life you will lead in retirement.
Work cardigans in your closet can definitely get a second life in retirement. There is no reason to get rid of them. They can be styled casually and used to cover up arms for dressier events.
What doesn’t work well after retirement
There are no hard rules on what you can and can’t use after retirement but I’d be hard-pressed to think of any reason a woman should hold onto pencil skirts. I also think most business suits probably won’t be necessary to hold onto, but I do think some can be broken up and worn separately.