Work-Wear on a Budget

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today show, MSNBC, New York Times, CNNMoney and more. Here Andrea gives advice to Intimate Guide readers about how to dress beautifully for work — while on a budget.

“If your primary occupation over the last few months (or years) required more bedtimes than deadlines, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 5 million women classified themselves as stay-at-home moms in 2010. Yet, that figure is down from just two years earlier as more mothers return to the workforce.”

For any woman taking on a 9 to 5, your wardrobe will likely need a makeover. However, sprucing up your business style doesn’t have to drain your kids’ college funds nor limit your options.

Here are 7 tips to help you update your wardrobe with fashionable work-wear on a budget:

1. Scope Out Consignment Stores: Consignment shops are goldmines for inexpensive professional attire. Clear out your gently-used maternity wear and stock up on business basics including blazers, slacks and pencil skirts. For tips on navigating consignment racks, check out this article from Woman’s Day.

2. Shop for Shoes Online: Ultimately, footwear is one of the most important parts of a professional wardrobe. Despite the sheer joy of finding that perfect pair of black-patent pumps, shopping with your children in tow is often a trying experience. Avoid department-store drama and shop online at e-retailers like Endless or Piperlime, who offer free shipping both ways. Alternatively, find free shipping codes for Macy’s and other popular retailers from sites like FreeShipping.org to avoid delivery charges.

3. Think Simplicity: You obviously can’t afford a series of tailor-made suits, but you can afford a few simple pieces you can dress up or down, as the situation requires. Button-up blouses are a must and can be found on the cheap at Target, Old Navy and other discount retailers. And don’t forget cardigans – find a few in your most flattering colors to wear all year long.

4. Avoid Trendy: Keeping up with trends is expensive, and you’ll find yourself with a closet full of items that look outdated from last season. Go for the classics and use accessories to showcase your inner trendsetter — think freshwater pearls, stud earrings and a tangerine handbag. For more inspiration, consult the 12 Jewelry Trends for 2012 from JCK Magazine. Earn some free jewelry by hosting a Stella and Dot party for your friends.

5. Keep it Clean: Cleanliness can make or break a good first impression. No matter the quality or cost of your clothes, it’s vital they remain clean and pressed at all times. You can reduce dry cleaning costs by avoiding such items altogether, or usingĀ  home-laundry packets like Dryel, available at your grocery store or drug store.

6. Gauge the Office Culture: You’ll feel really uncomfortable in a formal suit if the business owner is in jeans and a graphic T-shirt. Many younger entrepreneurs encourage a more relaxed look, so do a little research and know what to expect. If the company website doesn’t yield any insight, talk to the hiring manager about the office dress code when you schedule an interview.

7. When in Doubt, LBD: The last thing you want to deal with during a job interview is insecurity over your appearance. If you’re struggling over what to wear, keep it simple with a little black dress. This versatile piece can be paired with a blazer and smart pumps for corporate cultures, or with a bright cardigan and layered necklace for more casual environments.

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