A Cash-Conscious Wardrobe
We all want to look great for work, but keeping up with the latest trends can get expensive very quickly.
We asked our staff to share some of their favorite places to find new workplace duds that won’t break the bank. Without further ado, here’s where to buy work clothes for 20-somethings.
This Japanese brand got its start all the way back in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the last few years that the retail chain really started tapping into the American market, alongside fast-fashion competitors like H&M and Zara, both of which we’ll be discussing later.
Uniqlo covers all the bases when it comes to potential work outfits. They offer work pants/slacks as well as a host of button-downs and even (relatively) inexpensive blazers and suit jackets.
If your workspace is a bit more casual, you can also find many different varieties of denim and tees.
Oh yeah, and if you need something for the office softball league on Fridays, Uniqlo even has performance wear to keep you cool and comfortable.
Even more importantly, Uniqlo makes their clothes with modern fits, suitable for us 20-somethings who like a piece to look its best right out of the bag.
Most of us probably think of J. Crew as a popular supplier of outfits to frat boys and country club members all around this great nation, but this chain has also tapped into a well of talented young designers who know what younger audiences want.
You’ll even find exclusive versions of Vans and Red Wing footwear that are a bit dressier, making them perfect for a business casual workspace that’s a bit more casual than business.
And since you can find a J. Crew store (or even a J. Crew Factory store) just about anywhere in the U.S., you can take a trip with some friends and figure out your fits so that you’ll be able to cruise through your shopping trip the next time around.
Don’t forget that J. Crew switches out their styles often. In other words, if a particular piece doesn’t completely sell out at your local store, then it will be on the sale racks before long. If you’re patient, you can grab some great work outfits at a significant discount.
Ready for a quick honesty hour? We all know that H&M is the epitome of the fast-fashion industry. This company has been cranking out their own versions of the day’s most popular styles for many years now, and like them or not, they have an efficient operation going.
Are the clothes high-quality? Not so much. But what did you expect from a pair of jeans that you bought full-price for $8?
We’re not going to recommend H&M to absolutely everyone looking for new work clothes, but for anyone who’s headed into the very first office job of their career and is also a bit strapped for cash, then H&M is going to be your saving grace, at least for the first few months of your new position.
Get yourself a few versatile pieces that you can mix and match, a few tops, a few bottoms, and maybe even a shiny new pair of shoes (that might fall apart before the office Christmas party).
Then, when those nice new paychecks start rolling in, go ahead and check out some other brands that are a bit more expensive.
Honorary Mention #1: Online Retailers and Subscription Services
This is the digital age, so of course there are now plenty of options online for finding just the right style for your workplace.
For one, all of the brands mentioned above have helpful and easy-to-navigate sites where you can keep a close eye on sales and which sizes the warehouse has in stock at the moment.
But beyond brands that have a brick-and-mortar presence, there are also online-only brands, the biggest of which is still Amazon. In the last few years, Amazon has attracted a diverse set of clothiers and more traditional retail brands to offer their pieces on the marketplace.
If you’re not too concerned with finding something brand new, then you may even consider checking out resale sites for lightly used clothing by designer brands. Poshmark still has control over this niche market, and since anyone can post and sell clothes from their own personal collection, you’ll have a great chance of finding a huge variety of styles and brand names.
A quick word of warning, though: if you’re buying clothes online, you’ll have to be prepared to send items back right away if they don’t fit. Many retailers do their best to provide accurate sizing charts for their clothes, but even if you have up-to-date measurements for yourself, sometimes things just don’t work out.
So yes, online shopping allows you to find the best deals and the styles that work best for you, but nailing down just the right fit may end up being a hassle in itself.
Honorary Mention #2: Thrift Stores
Before we go, let’s have a quick talk about whether or not thrifting is a viable option when looking for new work clothes that will impress your cohorts.
If you happen to live in a midsize to a large city, then you’re probably safe to go thrifting around town. You’ll have a range of resale stores to choose from, many of which might only carry designer clothes, rather than taking in any donations they receive from the public.
Those living in small towns will have limited options, maybe only a Goodwill or two. You can still find great pieces in a charity store, it just might take a little more digging and a lot more patience.
Regardless of the store, be honest with yourself about whether a specific item of clothing is really appropriate for your workplace.
First of all, is it clean? If not, would you be able to easily and cheaply get it up to snuff before you wear it into work?
Next up, is the item damaged at all? Even higher-end thrift stores will sometimes accept clothing with minor imperfections or signs of wear. Whether or not this is a dealbreaker is entirely up to you, and ultimately your supervisor. If you have some experience with a needle and thread, you might be able to repair small tears or holes in a sweater.
If you wouldn’t be able to fix the piece before wearing it to work for the first time, don’t waste your time or money on it.