Refinery29 is proud to partner with Stitch Fix — a personal styling service that delivers pieces handpicked by stylists straight to your door — to celebrate modern mothers’ unique journeys as they transition back to work, and the ways in which their style evolves as they navigate their busy lives.
Out of all the emotions Emily Holland, a NYC-based styling director, felt at the thought of returning to work after her four-month-long maternity leave, anxiety came out ahead, overtaking guilt and excitement. She was apprehensive about being separated from her first child — a daughter she named Mirasol — for the first time. She was worried about not being in the right headspace for the job or straight-up uninterested in the work. And above all else, she was distressed over missing out on both the smallest and biggest milestones.
Animal print is having a moment, with classic leopard, zebra, and tiger prints showing up in unexpected colorways and silhouettes, which makes this ‘neutral’ an approachable addition to your everyday look.Layne Cross, Stitch Fix Stylist
“It’s all been said, but until you experience it for yourself, you can’t fully understand or fully imagine how hard it is — that transition between being with your kid all the time, every single day, and all of a sudden not,” she says. “Your priorities shift.”
And for Holland, one such priority that’s taken a backseat is fashion — a pillar that had previously defined more than 10 years of her adult life. But growing up, the 35-year-old stylist didn’t know she wanted to be in the industry. Born and raised in Houston, Holland studied visual arts at an art-focused high school and continued to pursue it in college in Los Angeles. It wasn’t until fashion piqued her interest a couple years into her studies that she made the decision to overhaul her entire career trajectory and transfer to Parsons School of Design in New York. After racking up various fashion internships, including at a brand, a production house, and magazines, she determined that the latter “was the dream.” She landed an assistant role at a major national women’s magazine and worked her way up to an editor level before pivoting to digital media as Refinery29’s styling director. And then she pivoted once more to where she is now: heading up style at a brand.
It’s been five months since Holland returned to work, and she confesses it’s still hard to be away from her 10-month-old baby. But having someone she trusts like her mother-in-law, who sends updates throughout the day, to look after Mirasol helps. So does having a 9-to-5 job that not only offers structure (knowing when to leave work at work) but also support (an environment of other moms who understand and are respectful of a healthy work-life balance). She’s worked through her anxiety — time, she says, really does heal all wounds — but she admits that she still feels sad when she’s not with her daughter.
Figuring out what I feel good in has been freeing, and it helps me save time.
So to make every minute count, Holland has trimmed down her morning routine to mere minutes, as opposed to the 10 and 30 minutes it had taken her previously. She considers her personal style to have always been easy and simple — with a blend of masculine and feminine silhouettes that can range from something as simple as a tee and jeans to a standout dress — but having a baby has driven her to pare it back even further.
“My mornings are my time with my daughter, so I really just go for whatever’s easiest and quickest nowadays. Obviously I care about what I look like and want to feel good in what I wear, but I’m just not as concerned about spending my time shopping or buying things for myself,” she reveals. “I’m not focused on trends anymore, and I’m happy it’s not as much of a priority as it used to be. It’s a relief to feel that I can wear something as casual as jeans and a T-shirt and not spend a lot of time dressing up and stressing over my outfits. It’s nice to feel comfortable and feel like me.”
Button-downs, she’s found, have become the hero piece of her new-mom wardrobe. They’re easy to wear, they have the power to instantly dress up a look even when they’re paired with jeans, they’re immensely versatile — and they’re great for breastfeeding and pumping. “I didn’t used to wear so many button-downs, but now I live in them,” she laughs, calling out different iterations like a striped version and a white cotton style that she owns and loves. And right up there in heavy rotation are her tees, or in other words, basics that she can mix and match.
Stitch Fix is great because it helps women who may feel lost.Emily Holland
On the other end of the spectrum — clothes that she can no longer imagine wearing — are a pair of super-tight cutoffs and a handful of dresses that err on the shorter side (which she now wears with jeans).
As a mom on the go, versatility and function are key when it comes to adding pieces to your wardrobe. Give your favorite shirtdress new life by styling it open, layering it over a classic crewneck tee, and pairing it with your favorite jeans for an updated and effortless look.Layne Cross, Stitch Fix Stylist
“Comfort is key, and I tend to wear things a little looser and longer now. Once in a while, I crave something fancy; I have a few silk blouses that I can’t wear because they’ll inevitably get covered in baby fluid,” Holland says. “But figuring out what I feel good in has been freeing, and it helps me save time.” (The best piece of advice she’s ever received: Don’t put on your outfit until right before you leave, so you can’t get anything on you — it saves you from ever having to run back in and rethink anything.)
Of course, as a stylist who has been blessed with a discerning eye and years of experience, nailing down her everyday uniform has come almost instinctively. Her approach to fashion is less about trends and more about curating a capsule of tried-and-true closet staples that, with subtle stylistic tweaks, can result in endless permutations. She recognizes that it’s tough, especially for women who may not have the time to shop, to seek out pieces that easily and effortlessly lend themselves to multiple outfits. And it’s infinitely more challenging for those who are pregnant or mothers who have just given birth and are learning how to dress for their new body. So she gets why an online personal styling service like Stitch Fix, which employs professional stylists — some of whom are mothers themselves — to offer guidance and help with the transition back to work, is resoundingly popular for just this reason.
“Stitch Fix is great because it helps women who may feel lost,” Holland says. “For me, there are clothes in my closet that still don’t fit, but it’s about learning what works, what makes you feel the most comfortable and the most confident. I’ll have moments where I’m feeling weird about my body, but remembering what I’ve done — growing and birthing a human — and how incredible it is, and just thinking about my daughter, makes it all worth it.”
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