The Suit Before the Salary: Saving on Work Attire

October 19, 2008 • Magazine

The Suit Before the Salary: Saving on Work Attire

The Suit Before the Salary: Saving on Work Attire

Sun, 2008-10-19 08:00

Rachel Yeomans

A good friend of mine recently went against the grain of our country’s current economic state and acquired a job. Yet amidst celebratory toasts, she admitted that she had nothing to wear to her new place of employment — she has been an artist by trade for years. Now she works from 9-5 in the corporate world of suits and pumps. She is planning a shopping venture to begin creating her new office wardrobe, but considering she would like some items before her first day and her pay check doesn’t result until after her first two weeks, she is feeling the strain of the fashion budget.

To assist in my friend’s new collection of clothing, I’ve laid out some ground rules that could lend her fewer pieces to go the furthest distance, along with some inexpensive items I’ve stumbled on along the way.

1. The universal rule: Mix and match. Start with two pairs of slacks and two blazers. You can add one matching skirt for more options, but just with this, you can switch these items for a whole work week. Plus, you don’t have to wear the fancy blouse under the jacket — don a boat-neck t-shirt or camisole (just remember to not remove the jacket during the work-day as that would most certainly challenge the dress code).
* One thought on this topic — when purchasing slacks, you may want to consider shopping for quality over price. Good quality pants can last a lot longer (and through growing paychecks) than a pair kept together by fabric and thread alone, and make a large difference in look. Poorly made pants are much more noticeable than the chic deal of an H&M blouse any day.

2. Buy one pair of flats and one pair of pumps, both closed-toes and comfortable. Peruse the shoe section of TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Filene’s Basement, and even the new and improved shoe section of Target for some similar options.

3. Wear neutrals. Yes, my friend’s artistic side might shed a tear over this, but in order to ensure wear of every piece of clothing she purchases, they all have to match. Stick with black, grey and white at first. For the next shopping round, look at tans and browns. Luckily, you can pump up the color with some previously-owned colored tops for under blazers along with some jewelry or scarves for accessories.

4. Get a large bag or tote and make it a permanent part of your office ensemble. Having that one dependable (and fantastic) handbag makes all the difference in an outfit. You may have a middle-of-the-road suit or be sporting monotone, but with the right accessories, your style will exceed your salary.

5. Know where to shop. You know that Neiman Marcus is most likely out of the realm of possibility. However, lucky for deal-inspired shoppers everywhere, the likes of Target and Kohl’s have enlisted the help of some fantastic designers to bring affordable fantastic fashion to the economic-constrained masses. Yet if you’re looking for Neiman Marcus without the three- to six-digit price tag, it may be worthwhile to peruse the discount outlets such as Bluefly, Saks Off Fifth, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Filene’s Basement.

In our land of labels, it is always good for us shoppers to be reminded that although a label may not be in the Vogue advertisements, it may be attached to a one-of-a kind item that builds on our wardrobe and fashion ingenuity. With the current economic state and efforts to become more budget-conscious and price-wise, it’s a good time to reevaluate what we need and take just a bit longer to explore all of our options before extracting the Visa or MasterCard. There is so much competition across the fashion board to offer us not only an insurmountable amount of options, but options at truly affordable prices.

So whether your new attire is for your first day at the office, or a seasonal enhancement to your wardrobe, you can feel free to flaunt not only your new style, but the extra savings in your bank account.

1. Isobel Knit Blazer, Forever 21 $27.80
2. Simply Vera Vera Wang Flap Front Top, Kohl’s $27
3. ELLE Ruffle Tunic, Kohl’s $23.99
4. Kenneth Cole New York Flat Front Pants, Nordstrom $79
5. Isabel & Nina Women’s Tie Belt Pant Suit, Overstock $109.99
6. Sigerson Morrison for Target Glitz Crystal Flats, Target $29.99
7. Mossimo Doni Block Heel Pumps, Target $13.49
8. Nine West Shop Girl Shoulder Bag, Overstock $38.99

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