Office outfits on a normal person’s budget

Spending eight hours a day in an office can often create the kind of sartorial cynicism that stops you from updating your wardrobe.  After all, it’s easy to scan a shop and put everything into one of two mental baskets: stylish -- or work appropriate.

The latter tends to lose out to things that you’re more likely to wear on a night out. It makes sense, right? Who wants to spend a bunch of money on Cruise Collection jumpers only to be reminded of being trapped indoors? Is pant-length crucial when you’re sitting all day? Will the House of Harlow top really get to shine when you’re perennially shielding yourself from the office air conditioning? Yep, you're right to be cynical.

But dressing up for work isn’t just about playing an awkward tug-of-war with the latest fashun. It’s also about acknowledging that you’re willing to look professional – even though you’re not a collared shirt kind of gal in your personal life.

So how best to allocate your hard earned cash to office pieces? The most obvious solution is to invest in staples. Simple pieces will outlast any eye-catching trends (High Top Sneakers, anyone?). And a classic dress or blazer is likely to win you compliments season after season, since they're easy to freshen up with on-trend accessories -- like a boyfriend watch or a statement necklace. 


And always buy online – even if you happen to love browsing in real life. You’re almost always guaranteed a bargain, and sometimes there are online-only items that are perfect for anyone who is extra vigilant about not clashing clothes with colleagues.

Depending on your office dress code, there are other ways to cut down workwear costs. 'Business casual' -- like its party cousin ‘smart casual’ –- can be fraught. But so long as your interpretation of ‘casual’ is within reason, you can always try to shop for office items that might also work for your off-duty wardrobe.

Printed dresses, playful blazers and bright tapered trousers are great for their mix-and-match potentials. If nothing else, spending wisely on your nine-to-five self means you’ll also always look sharp at dinner and after work drinks. What’s not to love? 



  • Is this a normal person's budget? I don't know how I would feel about spending $175 on a skirt. That's almost my week's rent!

    Date and time
    May 23, 2013, 11:14AM
    • Hmm... I think that the items pictured are about 80% on trend for now. Many of them are not items that I can see lasting in anyone's wardrobe! Also, they're not really items that are realistic on a 'normal' person's income. I don't want to spend $100 on a dress if I don't have to! This article should really be pointing to cheaper options which really do have items that would be likely to last for seasons... maybe Target is beneath some people but I find they probably fill this mould.

      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 1:39PM
      • It's interesting what you consider a normal person when i look at those photos. My budget won't cover spending over $100 on one dress, and i make just under the 'average' wage.

        Date and time
        May 23, 2013, 2:04PM
        • Always buy online? Are you crazy? How are you suposed to work out what size to buy without trying the item on? And how can you know how it will look on you without trying it on? Even when shopping instore I have to try everything on because sizing is so very erratic. In one store I purchased a dress in size 10, I went back to the shop some months later actually wearing the dress I had bought there and looked at a skirt for work. After trying on different sizes I found I needed a size 18. I asked the shop assistant if there was an error in the printing and she said No but they had received alot of complaints re sizing and they had been having trouble with the supplyer. And don't get me started on the nightmare of buying jeans and bras.....

          Date and time
          May 23, 2013, 3:06PM
          • I love that women can wear interesting stuff to work – I’ve started coming ‘round to the whole fashion thing, and it’s cool to see what people come up with.

            Dudes get minor variations on the same ridiculous theme. Ooh, how about we wear long-sleeved shirts that stick to you the moment you sweat, with weird point-flappy collar things for no apparent reason? And let’s garnish that with a useless dangly thing hanging from our necks, because we weren’t already sweaty enough, and who DOESN’T like to get dragged to their deaths by a fashion technology that’s been redundant since the invention of the BUTTON?

            We get stuck with a fashion from a hundred years ago and another continent. We only get to pick what colour our stupidity is, and how well it fits.

            Date and time
            May 23, 2013, 3:49PM
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