Reader Question: What to wear during retirement

Hi Lazina,
I’ve been in banking for the past 30 years and will soon be transitioning out of the workforce and into retirement.  I’m at a loss for how to transition my wardrobe towards a more casual style.  I have worn suits for years and I’m fairly certain I’ll have little use for these types of pieces once I leave my job.  Any suggestions on what I should do?



First of all, let me just say congratulations!  Also, I completely understand your concerns.  I’ve worked with many women going through similar life/work situations so just know that you’re not alone- and there IS a solution.




My first recommendation would be to start thinking about what you’d like to do with your time as you enter retirement.  Now, I realize that may seem very broad and may seem overwhelming, but since you won’t need to wear suits on a daily basis, it’s a good idea to think about what you may want to keep and get rid of.
Do you want to spend more time volunteering somewhere that’s important to you? Will you be more active/involved with your favourite sport? Will you be traveling more frequently?  Your answer to this may be, “yes, I’ll be doing all those things are more.”  That’s great! By spending a small amount of time thinking about these and other similar questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what garments you should keep in rotation.

The next step is to go through the items in your wardrobe- with purpose.  Really evaluate each piece to see what you want to keep and what you feel needs to go.  As a soon-to-be retired banker, you likely won’t need to wear suits on a daily basis, however, it would be a good idea to keep 2-3 suits for various activities or events in the future.  You’ll be able to wear the suits you keep as separates so definitely take this versatility into consideration when selecting which items to keep.  For example, a suit jacket could double as a blazer and could be worn with jeans for a lunch out with friends.  Or, maybe you want to wear your suit pants to a board meeting you’re part of.


For those professional pieces that you decide to get rid of, look for places to donate them to.  In Edmonton, a great place to consider donating to is Suit Yourself – a charitable organization that collects and distributes quality professional clothing to low-income women.



Once you’ve done this, you’ll notice that there are some gaps in your wardrobe.  I’d guess that your casual wardrobe is going to need some “beefing” up.
While there are many different categories of casual-wear, start by adding the following 3 pieces into your casual rotation:

  • A great pair of jeans: I’d recommend a medium to dark wash jean that doesn’t  hug you too closely at the waist.  If you`re self-conscious about your tummy, look for a pair of jeans that have a slightly higher rise (or, look for tops or blouses that don`t hug your tummy.  You`ll be able to wear these jeans in so many different situations and will always look put-together.
  • An all-purpose day dress: to me, this item is an alternative to wearing gym clothes when you`re out and about (by the way, avoid doing that).  Look for a casual dress that:
    • Gives you a waistline
    • Has some structure to it but not too much
    • Doesn’t hug you too closely
    • Is complementary to some shoes and accessories that you already own
    • Makes you feel fabulous
  • A casual blouse: you may think that the alternative to a dress shirt (which you`re used to wearing) is a t-shirt.  Not so! I`d suggest adding a couple of blouses that have colours andéor patterns that speak to your personality.  This is how you dress up a pair of jeans or change the look of a simple pair of suit pants.

While shopping for these and other new pieces should be fun, I do understand that it can be very overwhelming.  My advice is to be intentional when embarking on future shopping trips.  Decide what you need to buy and focus on acquiring ONLY these items (maybe you start with looking for a great pair of jeans that fit you perfectly and make you feel wonderful).

If you have any other questions, just let me know!