Though every woman's clothing budget differs, we can agree that one thing is the same: Sustaining a quality-conscious and price-conscious work wardrobe is a balancing act.
Dress for the job you want – That's what they always say. But you don’t have to spend like a top-earning CEO to look as polished as one. You can climb the corporate ladder just as well in Maddens as you can in Louboutins.
Learn how to balance cost and quality on your current paycheck. Keep reading for my save-or-splurge guide to four workwear essentials:
A VERSATILE BLAZER: SAVE
Blazers are an obsession of mine. Their classic cut and many styling options make them a worthy investment for every working woman. What's more, many a fashion brand have put their own twist on the blazer's timeless form, reinventing business casual attire with the addition of zippers, lace and bead embellishments.
My closet houses several blazers in different colors and from different brands. I’ve got neutrals, earth tones and pastels — An endless supply with which to dress any outfit up or down. While I inherited a few of these from my stylish and similiarly-sized mother, the rest were acquired over time using persistence, patience and a keen eye for sales.
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to find an expensive-looking blazer at a wallet-friendly price. Department stores are a great place to scout for blazers, since they’re almost always running sales. I snagged my oversized ** blazer during a sale event at J.C.Penney, and it’s been my favorite business jacket ever since.
A FITTED PAIR OF SLACKS: SPLURGE
Like the perfect pair of jeans, flawlessly fitted slacks can be just as expensive as they are elusive. What cheap dress pants save in cash, they cost in quality, and a pair of budget slacks can be spotted a block away.
Slacks bought from a respectable workwear brand like Ann Taylor, White House Black Market or Express will fit better and hold up longer through washing, ironing and dry cleaning. These retailers use fabrics that are more comfortable and durable, and they usually offer a wider range of pant sizes and lengths than their off-brand counterparts.
I bought these chambray ruffle pants from J. Crew a few weeks ago when I was hunting for the perfect interview outfit. They’re made entirely from cotton — except for a little elastane in the waistband — which is a softer and higher quality fabric than polyester (what cheaper pants are made from). They cost a pretty penny, for sure, but I know I’ll get tons of use out of them over a long period of time, which validates the cost paid upfront.
A PAIN-FREE PAIR OF SHOES: SPLURGE
Gone are the days when working women were expected to parade around in high heels. Depending on the industry you work in — and your employer’s unique dress code — these towering toe-crunchers may still be a necessary evil in your day-to-day life. Whether your workplace engages in Casual Fridays only or casual everyday, a quality pair of sensible shoes is something even woman should own.
To get the most bang for your buck, choose shoes that can be worn with different outfits, colors and weather conditions. In an overview of 10 shoes no working woman should be without, Popsugar highlighted my top three sensible picks: Loafers, booties and flats.
For super casual offices, flats are a must. For work that doesn’t require you to walk around much, cozy booties can be worn year-round. For a go-to shoe that fits any occasion, though, loafers are a lady’s best friend.
I’ve had the most luck finding comfy work shoes at high-end retailers and department stores, but it’s easy to find the same stock at off-price stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.
A CLASSIC WATCH: SAVE
There’s no denying that a sleek watch and finely-tuned work style go hand-in-hand. And despite the widespread use of phones and computers for telling time, nothing beats wearing the minutes right on your wrist.
Despite what Rolex ads may claim, you don’t have to drop a whole paycheck to score a lavish-looking watch. There’s a wide range of traditional watches anAd smartwatches on the market, and they come in a variety of styles and pricepoints.
Swap real leather for vegan leather, pure metals for metal plating, and a glass face for an acrylic one. As for diamonds? Save it for engagement day — Cubic zirconia and swarovski crystals shine just as bright.
What workwear staple have you spent the most on? Share with me in the comments!