Life Hacks

How to Build Your Professional Wardrobe Without Breaking the Bank


Okay, so you wowed them with your LinkedIn profile, your resume had them crying with tears of joy, and your professional  interview had them offering the position to you on the spot. Congrats! Now that you have the job, what do you wear?

Every office setting is different, but usually there is a dress code, or a basic guide to how the employer expects you to dress. Developing a  professional wardrobe is a great step in laying a foundation for the professional you are! However, dressing the part does not mean you have to empty your bank account. There are plenty of places that offer reasonably priced professional items for people of all genders.


Now I know what you are thinking, I am one who used to walk into J.Crew and cry at the sight of the price tags. Since a recent brand change, J.Crew has significantly dropped their prices and reframed their brand to be high fashion at economic cost.  J.Crew offers a wide variety of colorful, professional clothing and accessories. For men, they have a variety of dress shirts and dress pants. For women, the variety includes dresses, slacks, and my personal favorite, the pencil skirt.

J.Crew also offers 15% off all purchases for students who have their student ID with them. So when checking out, remember to show your Fontbonne student ID card and snag that 15% off!


Who does not love a Target run!? I love Target. It has all of my essential needs, from groceries, to office supplies (that I do not need), to amazing clothing options. Target may not be the first place you think of when it comes to shopping for professional clothing. However, Target offers a variety of clothing options for an office look for both men and women.  For example, let’s say you have a presentation coming up at the office, and you want to look even more polished. For the gals, start with a pencil skirt, pair it with a long sleeve crew shirt in red to add a pop of color, and polish the look off with a blazer! You put this whole look together for under $70, and you can use each of these pieces individually as well! For the guys, start with a pair of dress pants, partnered with a white dress shirt, and top the look off with a blazer. The look costs just under $100! Again, all of these pieces can be worn together or separately.  Target also has a wide selection for all body types. Inclusivity is a part of Target’s rebranding promise and they are sticking to it. Target offers professional clothing for all body types, and it won’t break the bank!

ThredUP &

What are ThredUp & Swap? ThredUp and Swap are both  online secondhand clothing stores that feature various styles ranging in professionalism and price. ThredUP offers brand name clothing at 90% retail price. For example, this Eileen Fisher blazer is selling for $380 but on ThredUP you can get the same lightly worn blazer for $50.99!  ThredUp only offers womens’ clothing, so Swap was created for guys who are hoping to find designer brand clothing at a discounted rate.  Full disclosure: I have not used ThredUp or Swap, but I have read some fantastic reviews that you can check out if you are interested!

The Gap

The Gap is the perfect place to shop when you want to purchase some foundational pieces that will last a long time. Gap is on the pricier side, but as you grow as a professional,  your wardrobe needs to grow with you. Investing in high quality foundational pieces such as dress pants, a blazer, or a blouse can set the tone for the rest of your wardrobe.


PoshMark is an app that sells lightly worn brand name clothing. Before buying a full priced item check out PoshMark to see if you can find a similar item or even something better at a discounted rate. PoshMark tries its best to only promote quality, so you shouldn’t need to worry that your purchase won’t match the picture. The website states that if any items were sold and arrived not in the condition they claimed to be, the individual would be reimbursed.

Each office setting will have different expectations when it comes to professional dress.  Making purchases for your professional wardrobe is a fantastic step in laying the foundation for your professional life. Be sure to plan a budget and pick a few shopping spots to look for your perfect items. Remember to buy pieces that you can wear for multiple looks and don’t be afraid to try second hand clothing. Quality doesn’t have to break the bank. Developing your style in professional clothing can be challenging, but with options like these you cannot go wrong.

I am a undergrad student at Fontbonne University studying strategic communications and philosophy. I am involved in student government and campus ministry. When I am not studying, I enjoy color coding my oversized agenda, classic novels, and an iced coffee.

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