You’ve heard that phrase “you’ve got to spend money to make money,” but did you ever think it would apply to your closet? Business attire is no joke price-wise, and it’s especially un-funny when you’re a recent grad facing 6-figure student debt. If you were lucky enough to score a gig at a super casual tech startup, congrats! We hear that hoodies are on sale 2 for 1 at Sweatpants ‘R’ Us. But what if your boss is expecting Wolf of Wall Street and your budget’s more like Two Broke Girls?
This brings us to our next installment of Functional Fashion for Office Ninjas.
Your Mission: Dress Like a Pro on an Amateur’s Budget
Basic Suit Pieces
Suit trends come and go, but a basic black, blue or grey suit will always be acceptable in the workplace. Once you have a few paychecks under your belt, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a really well-made suit and have it tailored. Until then, we’ve found a few pieces that will help you fake it ‘til you make it.
H&M is a great resource for stylish but affordable suit basics.
For the ladies, the slightly puffed sleeves this jacket ($34.95) are a trendy but subtle detail, and this pencil skirt ($24.95) is appropriate for a conservative workplace but can also be dressed up for dinner or happy hour:
If your suit is basic enough, you can get away with wearing it multiple times during the week as long as you switch up what you wear under it.
For ladies, The Limited offers this collared shirt in multiple colors ($49.95). While the regular price isn’t super cheap, The Limited often runs sales and specials. (Last week this shirt was 50% off!). For the fellas, we found this ASOS Smart Shirt on sale for $18.95!
This is the one area where you’ll likely want to pay just a little bit more. If your shoes are really cheap, you may end up paying the difference in other currencies…like pain and suffering.
Keep an eye on large department stores for seasonal and holiday shoe sales, and use apps like SnipSnap to keep track of coupons and special offers.
For ladies, we found these go-with-anything nude pumps by INC International Concepts on sale for $48.65. For fellas, these Alfani Adam Oxfords are available in black and brown and are regularly priced at a reasonable $59.99.
So far we’ve been pretty practical, which is necessary when you’ve got a strict dress code and limited resources. So, here’s your chance to be a little more adventurous.
For ladies, a statement necklace can dress up a more straightforward black suit. Charming Charlie has tons of jewelry, handbags and accessories that look way more expensive than they actually are. The Daydream Necklace in turquoise comes with a set of matching earrings and is only $13. This Milano Triple Bag-in-Bag Tote ($39) is available in black or brown and comes with a detachable interior bag and wristlet.
For fellas, The Tie Bar offers affordable ties, pocket squares, socks and other accessories in fun colors and quirky patterns. This Silk Teal Elkhorn Skinny Tie is only $15. The skull and crossbones pattern on this pocket square ($8) is edgy but still subtle enough to be up to dress code.
Download Money Saving Apps
Check Out Second-Hand Sites
Don’t be afraid to pop into a thrift store and flip through the racks. People buy things they don’t really need/want/fit into all the time. You’ll be amazed by how many super cheap, high-quality pieces you’ll find with the tags still attached. Thrift stores are also great for sourcing raw materials that can be completely transformed with some basic sewing skills and a lot of vision. Check out what this designer does with her thrift store finds.
See? It is possible to look like a million bucks for far, far less.
What are some of your favorite budget fashion finds? Do you have a favorite outfit you got for a steal? Let us know in the comments!