Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Building a professional wardrobe on the cheap

My work environment is a business casual one. In Angie's Four Quadrant Model, we tend to fall between Casual Conservative (faculty) and Dressy Conservative (staff). Although sometimes faculty are just Casual Casual. Since I'm only there part time, no one much notices if I dress a little Dressy Creative, or sometimes Casual Creative. However, I've decided to start dressing a little  more Dressy Conservative for work. If my co-worker has some executive management over for an impromptu meeting, I want to look professional and put together. In addition, I've recently interviewed for a job working with one of the Deans, and this job will require me to dress a little more professional.

So, off to Goodwill. That's right, not Dillard's, not even Penney's. I went to Goodwill first.

It took a lot of time, trying on and discarding clothing. Examining clothing for wear and tear. In the end, I went home with the following

  • Skirts ($3.99 each)
    • Ann Taylor black pencil skirt
    • Banana Republic red pencil skirt
    • Jeffrey Craig (?) black a-line skirt
  • Pants  ($3.99 each)
    • Gap brown pants with subtle burnt orange detail
    • My Michelle black pants with silver pinstripe
    • Gap black twill pants
    • Catch My i gray pants with pink pinstripe
  • Tops  ($3.99 each)
    • The Limited gray striped knit top
    • Banana Republic gray thin knit sweater
    • Old Navy red fitted button up 
  • Goodwill Total = $39.90 + tax
Then, I gathered up some clothing that no longer fit me and I toted it off to Plato's Closet. The gave me $15.40 for my clothes and I took home $16.00 worth of clothing. This is clothes that I would have otherwise given to Goodwill.
  • Tops
    • New York and Company cream short sleeved fitted sweater $6.00
    • Merona gray short sleeve fitted sweater $6.00
    • Byer hot pink short sleeve mock turtleneck $4.00
  • Plato's Closet Total = $0.60 + tax
A brief stop by JC Penney's to check out their suits. But apparently my Penney's sucks, because I couldn't find very much business wear in juniors (yes, I still wear juniors. I love the fit and the style). Looks like I'm sticking with Kohl's. I did, however, find an adorable pair of flats. (and since we're getting into new stuff, I can provide pics!)
Finally, I went to Target. On of my favorite stores ever! I found a few really surprising deals on a few essentials. I love solid colored tees as you can tuck them into a skirt to make a nice casual business outfit or you can wear them with jeans to go out and about.

  • Target Total = $22.29
  • "On The Cheap" subtotal = $67.79 + tax
Mixing and matching the above, you have over 30 outfits. Pretty sweet, I know. Now, to be honest, you could stop here. The Kohl's purchases below were not so much "On The Cheap", at least not for me. But, I will have to make some additions to the above. The following items were NOT purchased today, but they complete the above wardrobe.

  • Goodwill
    • Black blazer $4.99
    • Black pumps $3.99
  • TJ Maxx
    • Solid black tights $10.00/$3
These are things that you may already own. A solid knit tee goes perfectly tucked into a pencil skirt for a simple professional outfit (a little more casual, not for meetings. Toss on a blazer to polish it). I recommend the Merona V-Neck but you can find loads at Goodwill. Black pumps go with pretty much anything. If wearing used shoes makes you queasy, check out Payless or the clearance rack at Off Broadway Shoes. When wearing pants, I recommend trouser socks in lieu of tights or hose. It's just way too uncomfortable to wear pantyhose with pants. 

You may also want to invest in a good bra and suitable makeup.

Finally, I went to Kohl's. I'd been dreaming about a suit that I'd seen at Kohl's. I had to have it. I spent quite a bit more at Kohl's than I'd spent at the other stores, but I got two lovely matching suits.
  • Top
    • Byer heather teal cap sleeve blouse $38.00 $18.99 
  • Gray Textured Suit
  • Brown Melange Suit
    • Blazer $54.00 $21.60
    • Skirt  $40.00 $16.00

  • Kohl's Total= $226.00 $117.57 + tax
    • Microloan of $79.97 + tax from the bank of K Swiss.
  • Grand Total: $217.47
I can't tell you how super thrilled I am with my current wardrobe. I haven't gone clothes shopping in a VERY long time, so it was so much fun. In addition, I cleared out a lot of things that no longer fit, or that I KNOW I won't wear (that red glittery dress from my senior pictures, the jeans that are 4 sizes too big).

One of the most important things you can do to have an attractive yet inexpensive wardrobe is to shop, shop, shop. You're going to need to be prepared to go shopping and come home with NOTHING sometimes. It's all about finding a great deal on clothes that look great and feel great.

Oh, and next time I'm in Greenville, I'll try to get my sis to take photos of a few of the outfits.

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