The 10 key pieces to help you build your back to work wardrobe

May 27, 2021

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Dust off those black pants, get your white shirt dry cleaned, and polish up your black pumps – it’s time to get back into ‘work mode’. Whether your heading back to work after maternity leave with your first baby, or are starting a new job after your third, its hard to switch from mum style and playdates at the park, to work style and meetings in the office. That’s where the back to work mum life uniform comes in handy. Having one allows you to seamlessly hit the road, drop the kids at daycare, and grab a coffee with only a dab of concealer, and just-washed hair—no nuclear physics involved.

You will hear mutters of “I don’t know how she does it” behind you in no time. 


The simple back to work Winter wardrobe

by Penelope Cadzow

Just because you no longer have an hour to stand in front of your wardrobe trying to figure out what to wear does not mean you need to fear getting dressed to go back to work.  What you need, is something chic and easy to wear that doesn’t require a lot of planning or accessorising.

The key is in creating a capsule wardrobe (aka the work uniform) that allows you to look like you are on trend, while also allowing you to create lots of different looks just by mixing and matching. At the same time, it’s also important that you look is still practical. We have all been there –  pumping in the bathrooms on lunch breaks.

Moving in our Autumn Winter season in Australia is a great time to get started. Below are my top 10 key pieces to create the perfect back-to-work wardrobe for your busy mum life 



A black blazer is a wardrobe essential!! It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it must fit well. You can wear this over almost any outfit – a fab dress, skirt and blouse, pant and shirt – to complete a look or make it more corporate. But a blazer is also incredibly versatile, dressed down for casual Friday with jeans & a stripe shirt, or even on the weekend with jeans and a white tee with your favourite sneakers. I highly recommend the Zara Peplum blazer for only $139 (image left). The peplum style will give any woman a waist, regardless of your size. The Dotti Black Military Style Blazer is another fantastic affordable option at only $89.95 and comes in a great range of sizes.

Zara Peplum Black Blazer $139.00 (size XL-XL)

Dotti Black Military Style Blazer $89.95 (size 6-16)

penelope cadzow back to work winter fashion


It’s nice to have a pair of pants that aren’t black but that will still go with lots of different tops – black, white, ivory, and even knits and printed tops. Berry colours are always perfect for Autumn/Winter, and dark enough to still be flattering on any body shape. Think shades of raspberry, plum, wine and aubergine. There are so many different cuts around, including the high waisted ‘paper bag’ style which is perfect for those wanting to tuck a top in and define your waist. Alternatively you can try a statement wide leg pant to lengthen your legs, with the length being just below the ankle but not grazing the ground.  Both these options are from Forever New and come in under $100 each.

Forever New High-Waisted Tie Front Pants in Berry $89.99 (sizes 4-16)

Forever New Wide Leg Pants in Berry $89.99 (size 4-16)

back to work style for mums


Most of us own a white shirt, that we’ve loved as a go-to with denim jeans, or tailored black pants. But a black shirt can become a wardrobe ‘must have’ after kids – why? Because it’s a lot easier to clean a dirty toast finger mark or cereal spill off black than it is white when your rushing to get out the door. It’s also flattering on any body shape. It’s a classic, professional look, and also practical if your breastfeeding and need to pump at work. The silk version by Jac + Jack (image left) is more expensive but in a breathable fabric which can be so important in stuffy work environments.  But it’s also such a versatile item that the cost per wear will make it worth it.

Jac+Jack 100% Silk Long Sleeve Black Shirt $169.00 (size XS-XL)

The Iconic Atmos & Here Black Long Sleeve Blouse $49.95 (6-16)

winter work uniform for busy mums penelope cadzow


The midi skirt has been around for a while and according to NYFW it’s not going anywhere. Think satin slinky finishes, fun animal or polka dot prints, or even a draped asymmetrical hemline. Wear it corporate style with a blouse, black blazer, or dressed winter style with a knee high boot and soft knit sweater. It will see you into the Spring Summer season, when you’ll love wearing it with a short sleeve top & mules, or a cami tucked in with sandals.

Country Road Satin Pull On Midi Skirt $159.00 (size 4-16)

*also available in fuschia, cobalt blue and golden yellow!!

Glassons Silky Midi Skirt $39.99 (size 6-12)

penelope cadzow back to work winter fashion work uniform



It’s easy to fall into the ‘black top + black pant or black dress’ syndrome as the weather cools down, so a printed dress is a versatile item that can lift your style, lift your colour and lift your mood. Wear with a great boot, a classic pump, or even an everyday flat.  Add a blazer if the weather is cooler and you’re out the door!

Sussan Printed Long Sleeve Dress Floral $149.95 (size 8-18)

Witchery Printed Long Sleeve Dress $169.95 (size 4-16)

back to work style for mums


Large or small, the polka dot is on trend and it’s a fun and playful way to mix up wearing solid colours. Wear it with a midi skirt & knee high boots, tucked into your burgundy pants, or back with your favourite black pants and a black flat.

Portmans Polka Dot Blouse $69.95 (size 6-14)

ASOS – Y.A.S. Polka Dot Button Down Blouse $90.00 (size 6-14)

mum life wardrobe updates for returning to work


Ivory looks so luxurious and soft in a fine knitted top, and steers you away from wearing all black in Winter. Try and get one that’s a finer knit and not a rib or cable, as you don’t want to have it looking too heavy or like a casual style jumper.  It will also give the option to tuck it you’re your pants or skirt, which will add versatility to your capsule work wardrobe!

Seed Ivory Assymetrical Knit Sweater $59.95 (size XS-XL)

The Iconic – Atmos + Here Ivory Balloon Sleeve Sweater $69.95 (size 8-16)

*also available in light grey!

back to work style for mums


From snake print, to leopard, to zebra, to tiger – injecting a little bit of animal print into your wardrobe ties back to a fun trend and is a great way to add neutrals into your wardrobe. It especially looks great in a pleated skirt at the moment and feels effortless when paired with a simple black or cream top, and a black flat or heel. The skirt is the statement piece so keep the rest of the outfit simple.

Witchery Animal Print Pleated Skirt $129.95 (6-14)

Country Road Snake Print Pleated Skirt $159.00 (size 4-16)

animal print skirts affordable winter style for mums


You can have fun with shoes and sometimes they are what can make a good outfit, great. Try black patent, or combinations of suede and textured leather. I particularly love the combination of ivory and a black leather in the same shoe – check out these styles below both under $150.

Witchery Ivory / Black Patent Flat $129.96 (size 36-41)

Nine West Black Patent leather flats $139.95 (size 5-10)

working wardrobe for busy mums


The rich berry colours of leather are hard to resist this season and are a perfect way to inject some colour into your black outfits and winter prints. Although boots can be expensive – I’m a big believer in spending the money on a really good quality leather boot – they’re an investment for your wardrobe you wont regret! Just make sure they fit comfortably, the heel is not too high, and you can stand in them longer periods of time. Leather is durable, breathable, and moulds to the foot over time. So if you look after them, they can last you years. Being on your feet so much rushing around all day from school drop to work to meetings to pick up – the last thing you need is sore feet and shoes that fall apart.

Zara Berry Leather Boot $259.00 (size 5-10)

Witchery Aubergine Leather Boot $349.95 (size 36-41)

boots for winter returning to work Penelope Cadzow


Time to accessorise

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