For a lot of us, it's been a minute since we've been to the office. Going back to work after this significant time off might feel, well, a little strange and unfamiliar. But taking some time to prepare can help you feel calmer, confident, and ready to focus your energy.
And that doesn't just apply to the job itself, but also your work wardrobe. By planning what you're going to wear and organizing your closet accordingly, you'll not only have one less thing to stress about, you'll also feel more confident in your style.
Consider these tips when preparing for a return to work.
Style your closet
Have at least two to three workwear outfits picked out for your first week, but don't plan too far ahead. Take note of what the office vibe and style is if you're working in a new environment and adjust what you're wearing accordingly. Do your coworkers and managers wear corporate or business formal attire, or is it a much more casual office environment?
For that first day in a business formal environment, your workwear essentials could include a tailored suit, or a blazer, pencil skirt, dress shirt, and pumps. For a trendier, more casual work environment, you could opt for a leather jacket, black dress, ankle boots, and a bright, on-trend bag. Or, try a patterned top or pants with flats and bold accessories.
Take inventory of your workwear essentials
If you're looking at your closet and feel like you have nothing to wear, now's the time to get organized.
Spend a weekend trying on clothes to make sure everything fits the way you'd like it to. If something doesn't fit, put it in a different closet or place it in a bag to get tailored within the next month. This way, you'll know that everything you see in your closet each day fits you right now, saving you time and frustration in the morning.
Ensure your work clothes are free of rips, stains, and pilling, as well as loose buttons or broken zippers. Make sure that the clothes you plan to wear the first week or two are cleaned, pressed, and hung up. No time to go to the dry cleaner? Hand-wash or clean on a gentle wash cycle and let the item air-dry. You might want to buy a portable steamer if you wear a lot of dry-clean-only clothes. Buy a wrinkle-release spray to have on hand for those mornings when you're in a time crunch and want to wear something that's wrinkled.
Make sure you're preparing for going back to work with seasonal items to round out those workwear essentials. Review and refresh your wardrobe options—a Nordstrom Trunk Club stylist can help breathe new life into your closet.
Get your accessories in order
Now is the time to take inventory of bags, belts, necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, and scarves. Make sure your jewelry is cleaned and untangled. Empty out work bags and decide on a few you will incorporate into your look—perhaps a classic leather work bag and a statement option or two that will make an outfit pop. This is also a great time to add bold jewelry to your style as a way to keep your look fresh and modern. Mix and match different stones, metals, and colors to keep things interesting.
Prep your work bags
Once you have a few outfits planned for the week and have decided on the bags you'll use, make sure your work bag is stocked and ready. Equip each bag with pens, a sleek notebook, chargers, laptops, headphones, hand sanitizer, and lipstick or your favorite lip balm. This will allow you to just grab and go in the morning. If you plan to get a workout in during the day or after work, pack a separate gym bag with activewear, sneakers, deodorant, makeup remover wipes, and dry shampoo for a quick transition back to work or home.
Set an alarm for an hour before you want to go to bed
Now that you've got your clothes in order, give yourself the best gift of all when preparing to return to work—a good night's sleep. In order to do that, think about when you plan to wake up and how many hours of sleep you'd like to get, and then work backward, giving yourself an hour of downtime before that. Set a reminder on your phone to go off at least an hour before you want to be asleep so you stop what you're doing and start your wind-down routine.
Spend this time powering down devices, prepping lunches and snacks for the next day, pulling out the outfit and accessories you plan to wear, washing your face, brushing your teeth, and getting into bed. Designing your perfect bedtime routine will help you feel less stressed, more rested, and give you more time in the morning so you're not running late or feeling rushed. You'll feel polished and poised heading into the office when you're organized, prepared, and on time.