I remember when I was doing the 8 to 4 and how hard it was to purchase clothes for my wardrobe, but I learned quickly how to mix and match and pop a little color in.
Back when you were expecting, consignment shops were goldmines for inexpensive maternity wear. Lucky for you, they're also a great resource for professional attire. Sell some of your gently-used maternity wear and stock up on business basics including blazers, slacks and pencil skirts. For tips on navigating consignment racks, check out this article from Woman's Day.
Ultimately, footwear is one of the most important parts of a professional wardrobe. Despite the sheer joy of finding that perfect pair of black-patent pumps, shopping with a toddler is often a trying experience. Avoid the department-store drama and shop online at e-retailers like Endless or Piperlime, who offer free shipping both ways. Alternatively, find free shipping codes for Macy's and other popular retailers from sites like FreeShipping.org to avoid delivery charges.
You obviously can't afford a series of tailor-made suits, but you can afford a few simple pieces you can dress up or down, as the situation requires. Button-up blouses are a must and can be found on the cheap at Target, Old Navy and other discount retailers. And don't forget cardigans - find a few in your most flattering colors to wear all year long.
Keeping up the trends is expensive and you'll often end up with a closet full of unwearable items from last scene. Go for the classics and use accessories to showcase your inner trendsetter -- think freshwater pearls, stud earrings and a tangerine handbag. For more inspiration, consult the 12 Jewelry Trends for 2012 from JCK Magazine.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, or at least next to a good first impression. No matter the quality or cost of your clothes, it's vital they remain clean and pressed at all times. You can reduce dry cleaning costs by avoiding such items altogether or using the home-laundry packets readily available at your grocery store.
You'll feel really uncomfortable in a formal suit if the business owner is sporting jeans and a graphic tee. Many younger entrepreneurs encourage a more relaxed look, so it pays to gauge the office culture before heading into an interview. If the company website doesn't yield any insight, talk to the hiring manager about the office dress code when you schedule the interview.
The last thing you want to deal with during a job interview is insecurity over your appearance. If you're struggling over what to wear, keep it simple with a little black dress. This versatile piece can be paired with a blazer and smart pumps for corporate cultures, or with a bright cardigan and layered necklace for more casual environments.
If you have friends or family members who recently announced they're expecting, it's time to dust off your maternity clothes and consider a swap. Ask the new mom to be if she has any business attire that she would be willing to exchange for your pregnancy wear.
About the author: Owner of JamericanSpice. Sharing my journey in the present, from the past or thoughts for my future. Mom of two who loves to travel and read and decipher people.