What to Wear To Work After Maternity Leave


Going back to work after having a baby is a big move, usually full of emotional turmoil and a bucket load of mothers’ guilt at the thought of leaving your child. Whether you took 3 weeks off work or a full year or two of maternity leave, deciding what to wear to work after maternity leave will be different for all of us. You may still be carrying baby weight and not feel great about your body, you may feel out of the loop, you may still be breastfeeding or you may just be experiencing a dip in confidence at the whole thought of returning to work environment. Leaving your child with a stranger is likely to be a tough decision and everything certainly mounts up. The thought of returning to work certainly left me feeling quite cold.

Finding good childcare, figuring out logistics, battling tiredness and getting into the ‘work’ frame of mind after such a long time out makes for quite the challenge. That’s without considering how you will feel when you leave your child for the first time.

As if we didn’t have enough things to deal with, worrying about what to wear to work is probably the last thing you want to do.

As much as you may have other things occupying your mind, it really does matter what you wear to work after maternity leave so it’s a good idea to spend some time sorting it so that you can get to the more important things like logistics for the big day and spending time with your baby before you go back.

Essentially, I wanted to go back to work looking like version 2.0 of my old self; a woman who is together and ready to hit the ground running in her career with renewed energy and enthusiasm. This is how I saw it all playing out in my head anyway. I managed to go through the first couple of weeks quite well with a little bit of planning.

These are my tips for dressing for work after maternity leave:

New clothes

This is top of the list for one reason, it really will help you feel like the ‘new you’ I mentioned. Who doesn’t feel all shiny and new with a new addition to your wardrobe? All you need is couple of new pieces to update your wardrobe. So beg, borrow, steal, but getting your hands on some new things for your work wardrobe really will elevate you mentally to face the first day back at work feeling the part.

I love blazers from J.Crew, it’s a classic investment and they fit amazingly:

Include New Trends

Unless you’re in the public eye or you work in fashion, it’s highly unlikely that you spent your pregnancy and maternity leave keeping on top of current fashion trends. Time with your precious new baby is short – it flies so quickly and sleep deprivation, feeding schedules and trying to stay on top of life is enough to contend with.

Incorporating trends to updating your work wardrobe isn’t the mammoth task it sounds, you only need to take a look around to notice the trends quite easily:

    • Look for the same colours and shapes in different stores. 
    • Take a look at magazines and trend reports to see what’s in season.
  • Consult Google, Instagram or your favourite fashion blogs for inspiration.

I’m a firm believer that your work wardrobe should contain quality classic pieces you can reach for again and again. Staying up to date with fashion trends when dressing for work, gives the impression that you have your finger on the pulse; who doesn’t want to be considered to be ahead of the curve at work?

Wear Patterns 

Whether you’re breastfeeding or just have to juggle dealing with a baby or toddler in the mornings now, patterns hide a multitude of sins. From leaky boobs, milk sick or a snotty nose wipe just as your hugging goodbye, there are days that you don’t get out of the house without at least one of the above unwelcome events and patterned fabric will hide the evidence.

Try this dress from Jigsaw:

Embrace black

If patterns aren’t your thing, then wearing black to work in the form of a classic smock or sheath dress and some court shoes or sharp flats, keep it simple and stylish. Believe me that from experience, a loose fitting black dress will do you well for engorged boobs if you’re still breastfeeding, will hide any leakages and is, as we all know, black is slimming if that’s what you’re after post-pregnancy (who isn’t?). It was a classic black dress that was my go to when returning to work after maternity leave. I always felt comfortable in it and it allowed me to get on with my job without worrying about what I looked like too much.

Easily access to the boobs (if required)

If you’re pumping or doing a lunchtime feed, you need to think about your boobs when you’re putting your work outfits together. A good number of my friends and myself included, during our initial return to work arranged to meet with our child-carer to give baby a quick lunch time feed. If you’re pumping during the day, a v-neck or wrap around dress gives perfect access without totally stripping off.

I like these ones:

Don’t Forget to Accessorise

When you find an outfit that works for you, you may want to stick with it. Say you find the perfect black dress for example, to get more wear out of it, I tend to add different bits and bobs to it to make it a different outfit. Accessories also add sophistication, a waist belt, a nice watch, earrings, a dainty necklace all jazz up the outfit. Swap and change your accessories and shoes to the same dress and you’ll be surprised how different you feel about the dress!

Belt it:

The aim is to feel confident on your return to work. In reality, what you wear matters but so does being prepared, and confidence comes from being over prepared. Hopefully you’ll arrive at work feeling like a new improved version of yourself than when you left, bringing with you all the newly acquired skills that motherhood requires of us all.

Do you have any to add or anything that worked for you when dressing for work after mat leave? Add them below:



  1. March 12, 2017 / 11:33 PM

    Great post! That J Crew shirt is my fave!

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