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Let’s Play Dress-up.

1st Day as an RN!

I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one who feels like my adult status is a ruse? I just don’t feel that grown-up. I keep doing these adult things… Moving out, going to college, getting married, having kids… I figure one of those would make me suddenly feel grown, responsible, or mature. So far, nothing. I would like a cookie and a nap, thank you very much.

Considering my lack of adult sensibilities,  I will admit that scrubs definitely played a role in my decision to become a nurse.  I mean, how can you pass up the chance to wear pajamas to work for the rest of your life? I love scrubs. It is acceptable to wear a top that is the exact same color as your bottoms, there is no accessorizing. It was absolutely amazing. I mean, top/bottom, hair-up and out the door.

My 4 year old picks my clothes?

I have no fashion sense, no innate ability to turn clothes into outfits, and I feel burdened by accessories… I don’t even wear my wedding band (I wash my hands billions of times a day) To my disappointment, Nurse Practitioners don’t wear scrubs much and at least for clinical I must submit to the concept of “professional attire.” Adult clothes… *cue ominous music*

You have permission to judge me, I am 31 and I do not own a pair of dress pants… Well, I didn’t… I bought some last weekend because according to all the websites dress pants, specifically black, are “work wardrobe essentials.”

It feels like playing dress-up, I put on my fancy pants and some strange shirt that is dry-clean only… Adults have dry-cleaning! But it isn’t just the clothes. I frequently find myself wondering how I got here and why no one else has noticed that I’m actually 5.


So, how does a person like myself blend seamlessly into a professional setting without relinquishing every last bit of whimsy and insanity? How might a mom returning to the workforce after a stint at home, or moving into a more professional setting dress the part without breaking the bank? Here was my strategy:

1. Scour the web (pinterest) for “work wardrobe basics” or “work wardrobe essentials” I found several great lists of things to have, and things to skip.

2. Scour your closet/drawers for fancy items, plain basic items that could be “dressed-up”, accessories and anything you already own from the “essentials” list. Try these on and either photograph them or make a list.

3. When shopping buy outfits versus an array of pieces you like. At the store each thing you try on should fit into an outfit you are purchasing in it’s entirety or a partial one you have in your closet. Preferably, it completes something you have at home 🙂

Summer Feet.

4. Dress pants are dress pants. The styles change minimally, so you don’t have to spend a ton on a pair of black pants. Clearance for these items is the way to go. I found some at The Loft for $14.88 and some at The Gap for $10.

5. COLOR IS OK. Professional clothes seem to run the spectrum if you want something from black to white (white shirts frighten me, I am incapable of eating without spilling). I wear a lot of black, but I love bright colors, polka dots, stripes, and my Hawaiian print shoes. So, instead of relegating my fun shoes to the weekend I try to coordinate them as a pop of color, or with  a bright necklace.

Remember: I’m not really a grown-up, I just play one in real life.

What are your tips for dressing like a grown-up?

Comfy with a POP of pink.



About Jamie Schnell

Jamie Schnell
Jamie Schnell is an RN and full-time mommy to three boys. Her husband, Adam, keeps track of all the stuff that she can never remember where she had it last, and she loves his geeky-wonderfulness. He is definitely the best daddy. Jamie has a BA in English to accompany her BS in Nursing, and recently completed her Master's in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner track. Jamie loves reading, writing, crafting anything and everything, green beans, having little parties to celebrate life, coffee, camping, cooking, spa days, Cheetoes, naps, and just being outside.


  1. Jenny

    Love this Jamie! I had this moment 2 years ago where I realized that I work in marketing (read: people who are creative and fashionable and coordinate) and I needed to step it up. I love Pinterest for inspiration and last year I bought the fancy velvet hangers and paired my closet down to about 50 items. My laundry pile thanks me!

  2. I only have to dress professional occasionally and it’s a struggle. I have about three basic outfits that I switch around for those days. But I feel like I’m playing grown-up. On the days I don’t have to dress up, I look like I’m 16. I like the idea of looking up wardrobe essentials and picking up a few of those.

    And color is important! I like wearing brightly colored shoes and earrings when I wear my basic black dress to work. I think it makes it more fun!

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