Your Exhaustive Guide to Finding Inexpensive Women's Work Attire

2 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.
One of the biggest tips for success in the business world is looking the part. You may lounge around in pajamas when you work out of your home, but when it comes time to meet with potential clients, are you coming off as poised and polished?
Having a professional work wardrobe probably isn’t in your budget when you first start a business, and suits, dresses and skirts can get pretty expensive. But we’re here to show you that there are places where you can find quality clothing without breaking the bank.
Reddit is always an interesting place to source information, and this thread on Places to find cheap business attire for women caught our attention. In it, you’ll find people’s advice on specific stores where they’ve found great deals on women’s work clothing. In this article, we’ll summarize a few of these places, as well as add a few extra resources to get you outfitted.
Thrift Stores
You might be surprised to find that thrift stores are the best places to get high-end brands without the hefty price tags. Quality of the clothing in thrift stores varies, of course, but if you’re willing to spend some time digging, you can find work attire brands like Banana Republic, Talbots, Ann Taylor, J Crew and more.
Bonus Tip: If you can find thrift stores in affluent areas, you’re even more likely to find top-tier brands with less scouring.
Discount Retail Stores
Another affordable option is discount retail. Chains like TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross often sell designer brands at a fraction of the price. Maybe a manufacturer made too many of an item, there’s a small flaw or the item was returned. Whatever the reason, it’s your opportunity to add quality shirts, jackets, skirts and dresses to your closet while saving major dough.
Bonus Tip: The more you visit a store, the better you’ll get to know the inventory. Ask the store manager what day new shipments come in, and carve out time in your schedule to snag what’s new before anyone else does.
Discount Versions of High-End Stores
You may walk past Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom knowing your pocketbook can’t afford anything designer, but did you know these stores have discount retail as well? Nordstrom Rack and Off 5th offer, similar to discount retail stores, great buys on high-end brands.
Note that some items are still hundreds of dollars (which for many is still a steal for a dress that, for example, costs $1,500) but there are still affordable deals and clearance racks worth checking out.
Bonus Tip: Both stores offer rewards programs that help you save even more, and they’re free, so be sure to sign up for them.
Department Store Sales
Department stores like Macy’s may in general be out of your budget, but they often have blowout sales that can make a high-priced item drift down into your range. President’s Day, Friends and Family, you name it. These stores will take any excuse to mark items down or offer coupons.
Bonus Tip: Sometimes you have to spend more to save more, so wait until you need several items of clothing before you hit these sales so you don’t end up buying things unnecessarily just to save.
Outlet Malls
If you have an outlet mall near you, add it to your shopping list. Here you’ll find brands at every price point, from Old Navy to Coach, with clothing and accessories far below what you’d pay with their normal retail siblings.
Bonus Tip: If you’re not afraid of crowds and long lines, do your clothing shopping on Black Friday (or earlier; many outlets open on Thanksgiving now) to get deep discounts.
Consignment Stores
If you don’t mind gently used clothing, another shopping option is the consignment store. The items here tend to be better curated than at a thrift store (and slightly more expensive, but still affordable). Many women’s consignment stores feature work attire heavily, so they’re a great place to pick up a pencil skirt, shift dress, or jacket.
Bonus Tip: Again, the more you shop, the better you’ll know the inventory. And if you make friends with the store clerk, she just might keep her eye out for something specific you’re looking for.
Online retail is cutthroat when it comes to slashing prices, and you’re the one who wins out. Most brands sell clothing on their own dedicated website, so if you love The Limited, for example, stay tapped into what’s on sale.
You can also find a variety of brands on Amazon, and if you have Prime, you’ll get free two-day shipping on many items.
Bonus Tip: Before you check out with your online order, search Google for a coupon code. You might save more!
Clothing Swap
Your best source for great clothes for work may be closer than you think: your friends! Host a clothing swap party and turn someone else’s unwanted apparel into your new wardrobe.
You can do the same thing online with ThredUp. Clean out the clothes you no longer want for credit, then shop the website to add gently used items to your cart.
Bonus Tip: Set aside clothes you’d otherwise give the thrift store and then either share them at your swap party or send them to ThredUp.
Tips for Finding Fantastic Deals on Clothing
Consider finding the best price on your work wardrobe a game, and use these strategies to win.
1. See Beyond What’s There. Is the skirt you try on a little long? Before you toss it in the discard pile, consider whether you could pay to have it altered. Alterations let you customize clothes for your specific body type, and since you’re buying cheap, this will be your little secret to having a tailored wardrobe.
2. Sign Up for Emails. Most stores send promotional emails to notify shoppers about sales or discounts. Yes, it’s annoying to get tons of emails, but when you subscribe, you can save more money.
3. Search for Coupons. Before going to any store, search online for coupons. Retail Me Not is a great site and mobile app that gets you access to digital coupons you can present to the sales clerk to save on the spot. Also ask if you can sign up for snail mail coupons. New York & Co and Kohls are especially good at mailing out coupons throughout the year.
4. Buy Classic Items. Keep in mind that your professional wardrobe should be timeless, not trendy. Look for simple one-color pieces, as well as black or white items that can be mixed and matched to diversify your wardrobe. Let your accessories sing your personality; a plain white button-down shirt paired with a black pencil skirt and red cardigan can get an extra zing with a chunky multicolored necklace. And the best part? Accessories are among the cheapest thing you can buy for your wardrobe!
Where are your favorite places for great deals? Let us know in the comments below or join the discussion on Kabbage’s social channels. 
Tagged in:

More from living

by AnnaMarie Houlis via Fairygodboss | 3 hours ago
by AnnaMarie Houlis via Fairygodboss | 2 days ago
by Kimberly Zapata | 4 days ago
by Meredith Goldberg | 7 days ago
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 10 days ago
by Justina Huddleston | 10 days ago
by Deborah Sweeney via Fairygodboss | 10 days ago
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 11 days ago
by Kristine Cannon | 11 days ago
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 13 days ago
by Kristine Cannon | 14 days ago
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 18 days ago
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 21 days ago
by Colleen Stinchcombe | 22 days ago