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Clothes for my career

March 7, 2008

A couple weeks ago, I was lusting after a cute work outfit that Banana Republic emailed me about (aug, did I really give them my email address?), and showed it to T saying that I really wanted the brown jacket ($150) and also would also like a few new shirts to go under it. I have a lot of pairs of nice dress pants, but I’m really lacking in good work tops. Seeing that I set my clothes budget at $50 each month, I’m quite obviously not getting the jacket. Even though they just emailed me a 20% off coupon.

BR Jacket

He agreed it was nice, and went on to suggest that I eliminate all my “extra” stuff in my wardrobe, because I really only needed a few nice pieces. Which, to an extent, is true. Actually, it’s more NOT true than true. I don’t really need any nice pieces. My work place is not that formal and I don’t dress up on the weekends. I would like some nice things, I would like to wear nicer things to work…. but I also can get by without them.

However, the main thing he missed was the fact that cleaning out my closet and eliminating things does nothing towards acquiring the nice things. Emptying my closet is easy, but refilling it with better quality? That takes $$$$$ that I don’t want to spend right now.

From now on that $50/mo is going to go towards quality stuff (hopefully found on sale). I’ve read a few articles, in blogs and in print, about how to build a professional wardrobe for X amount dollars. There always are some great pieces in there that I covet. The problem was, it never really is a whole wardrobe. At best, it is one weeks worth of outfits. When I first started out building my professional wardrobe, it would have been impossible to fill it with “nice” stuff without going broke. I was also getting settled into my first apartment and buying furniture, so my clothes budget was not huge. I bought things that were nice enough to get by and cheap enough that I could by more than one shirt. I have the basics, now I’m going to build up the quality. Mix in some inexpensive “trends” and I’ll be good to go.

For other young professional females, do you have any recommendations for stores to shop at? JCrew and Banana Republic seem ideal, but I still can’t stomach the price tags for non-sale items. Even sale items sometimes! Also, I worked in retail once upon a time (Abercrombie & Fitch, if you can believe that! I swear I’m not rude like half their employees!), and there were certain times of the year when there was huge sales, usually about four times a year. When is the next big sale? I’m thinking the spring stuff came out a few weeks ago, so there should be some good sales in about a month….

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2008 10:36 am

    I usually shop from Express, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. They have nice shirts, pants, skirts and jackets. I’m an accountant so I have to look sharp all the time, however; I don’t want look typical accountant you can imagine either 🙂 so it is a challenge. Quality clothing means $$$$. On the other hand, if you buy good quality clothes, you wear them forever. Your white shirt, jackets,pants, bags and your watch is very important; and you don’t have to have many for each item to look good. My suggestion save that $50 budget you have every month and buy that jacket you really want when you save enough money.

  2. sjean permalink*
    March 7, 2008 12:27 pm

    Express is a little less expensive I think, when they have sales. Maybe I’ll try there again.

    The jacket is sort of an impractical quality purchase, because it isn’t exactly “classic”. Or is it? I guess I don’t think so, but I could be wrong. Jackets are by no means a necessity in my workplace. For something like that, quality is less important to me than price at this point. If i had high quality basics, then it may be time for high quality “extras”. For now i’m on the look out for button up shirts. I’m willing to pay for quality, but not $70+. I can’t seem to do it

  3. March 7, 2008 8:53 pm

    You are right Express is less expensive, also during sales you can find really good deals in Ann Taylor. For the jacket, that’s true that jacket is not really “classic” and you’re not going to wear more than once a year, you shouldn’t buy it at least not from Banana Republic. (they are expensive)

  4. March 8, 2008 6:01 am

    Yup. Express, Target, RW&Co, Smart Set, and Jacob are where I shop.

    Banana Republic is a bit pricey.. so is J. Crew.. but some of their stuff is nice.

    I also don’t rule out places like Smart Set, Dynamite or other “lower-end” stores. Sometimes their jackets are much nicer and feel better than Banana Republic stuff

  5. March 9, 2008 3:30 pm

    If you have one, SYMS. There will be a lot of lime green old lady suits, but if you dig you can find a navy or a pinstripe that’s a couple seasons old. Two of my favorite (and cheapest!) suits were from there.

    Another good option, at least where I live, is a large thrift store in the poor part of town. Where I live, the goods that go first are the cheapest. So the nicer blouses (read: dry clean fabric) hang around a little longer. I have three silk blouses that I got for $1.50.

    I swear by Amazon shoes. They have Nine West pumps for $25 every week. I have had to stop looking since I’ve been on Well-Heeleds Clothing & Shoes Hiatus.

    I had a Target blazer and an Express suit that fell apart. Maybe their quality has improved, but I wouldn’t risk it. And, in my opinion, they look cheap because the fabric is cheap. Benetton too (though they cost three times as much).

  6. March 11, 2008 7:48 am

    Have you tried Loehmanns, near the Beverly Center? They have a wide selection of designer brands. Also, Zara and H&M could be good options for lower-priced items. I prefer Zara but it depends on your taste.

  7. sjean permalink*
    March 11, 2008 8:06 am

    No I haven’t. I like Zara, but have only been a handful times. I like H&M because cheap doesn’t mean it will fall apart in a week (though it won’t last a lifetime either).

    I don’t really know the good stores, as I’ve primarily lived in cities without a lot of shopping choices. Well, Hong Kong had everything, but I was too cheap to pay for it as a student.

    Thanks for the suggestions–I’ll check out Loehmann’s. H&M is in the Beverly center. I think I am going to go the 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica–there is a huge variety of stores there.


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