As a college student or recent graduate, you probably don’t have a lot of money to shell out for clothes to wear to the office. So what do you do when you land that new job or internship and you want to make an impact? We all know that the way you carry yourself and how hard you work should be the most important characteristics about you in the workplace. But let’s be honest. Everyone judges on appearances sometimes. You don’t want to be judged negatively because of the way you dress.
When I first started out in my career, I was really concerned with how I appeared to others. I didn’t want to be instantly labeled as “the intern” or “the new college grad.” For one of my first interviews, I purchased a very expensive suit coat from a fancy department store, thinking it would make me appear more professional. I wore the coat to the interview, and I felt extremely uncomfortable the whole time. To make matters worse, the coat started to fall a part after just one use! To this day, that suit coat is hanging in my closet and hasn’t been worn since.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have shopped around for a much better deal on that coat. I was in the mind set that the more expensive the clothes, the better. While I still believe some expensive clothes are worth it if you plan on wearing them for a long time, I’ve gotten a lot wiser about where I shop. I’ve discovered that there are so many options out there where you can buy trendy, quality clothes without blowing through three months of your salary.
At first glance, New York & Company doesn’t seem to be anything special. They carry a wide variety of casual and office-friendly clothes, but some of their fashions come with a pretty hefty price tag. After all, most young professionals don’t have $35 to spend on just one shirt.
So how did New York & Company make the list? Because of the one word every girl loves to hear: sales. New York & Company almost always seems to have some sort of sale going on, and even hosts 50% off sales a few times per year. When you include these special discounts, the clothing at New York & Company is a pretty good deal for professional women.
If you love the clothes at Nordstrom but loathe the high price tags, try shopping at its outlet alter ego, Nordstrom Rack. The clothes may be “so last season” and still a tad expensive, but you can find designer brands here for a fraction of the price stores normally charge for them. The best part about Nordstrom Rack is that you don’t have to drive out to an outlet mall to find one. There are several locations available all over the U.S. You can also shop online and get free shipping.
Anyone that has been to The Limited knows it’s not cheap. However, just like New York & Company, The Limited usually has a clearance rack full of cute fashions that are up to 50% off their original price. The store also hosts killer sales, particularly around the holidays, where you can find button up shirts and suit separates at a deep discount. Join their mailing list and they will send you coupons throughout the year that add to your savings.
Ebay is not just for strange antiques and other odd items! You can score plenty of name-brand clothing at huge discounts here. If you don’t like the idea of an online auction, many sellers list their items as “buy it now” so you can purchase clothing instantly. Because payments are usually made through PayPal, buying clothes on Ebay is safe and secure.
Your Local Thrift Store
When most people think of thrift stores, they think of dirty places full of clothes and broken stuff from the 1970s. You can find cool vintage items at thrift stores, but you can also find plenty of modern clothing as long as you don’t mind if it’s gently used. I recently purchased a Prada bag for $3.50 and a Nine West bag for $1 at a thrift store in Chicago. My friend bought a cute black pencil skirt from The Limited for $1.50, and it looked like it had never even been worn.
Check out thrift stores in pricey neighborhoods. The people who live in those neighborhoods often donate name-brand clothes that are hardly used. As the saying goes, “one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.”
These options represent just a few of the places you can look to find fashionable clothing to wear to the office. The most important (and often the most fun) thing to do is shop around; you don’t want to spend all of your money in one place just to find a better deal elsewhere. As long as you shop smart, you can find plenty of fun, trendy workplace outfits while still staying within your budget.
Author Bio: Ali Turner is a professional writer and career blogger. She’s also the editor of Campuses to Careers, a blog that helps young people make wise education and career decisions. Topics covered on the blog include how to decide your salary requirements and how to tell if a job is a scam.