By Kristin Granero
You finally land your first job (yay, paychecks!), or maybe you’ve been in your role for a while but it’s time for a serious upgrade (looking at you, faded, fraying pants).
Clothes can say a lot about a person, including demonstrating how organized you are and how attuned you are to your surroundings and company culture. After all, the old saying goes that you should dress for the part you want, even if it’s not the one you currently have.
Clothes can also be expensive, especially if you’re working in a more corporate environment that requires you to don suit attire, which is why we’ve taken the liberty to round up some of our personal go-tos.
Read on for eight places where you can find clothes that are cubicle (and some day, office!) chic on the cheap.
1. Old Navy
Old Navy has come a long way over the past few years, especially when it comes to work attire. Shop the brand for mix-and-match chinos, tops, and outerwear (there’s a wide range of prints and shades) for a mere fraction of what you’ll pay anywhere else.
Ed Tip: Try to time your shopping trip to when Old Navy is offering bonus cash and/or a percentage off (typically 30-40 percent, sometimes even higher) and sign up for the newsletter so you can keep track of special deals, such as $15 dresses and puffer vests. You can typically find crazy deals in the site’s clearance section, as well (we once scored a pair of jeans for $1.50 – seriously).
2. J.Crew Factory
J.Crew’s catalogs are a creative director’s masterpiece, with every outfit meticulously styled in such a way that it seems like it was just thrown together (read: effortlessly cool). Get the look (including cotton tees, blazers, and sheaths) for much less by shopping its Factory stores, often featured in outlet malls and outdoor strips.
Ed Tip: If you can’t make it to a physical store, check out the label’s website. It typically features a wider variety of styles and sizes, along with an additional percentage off on already reduced and even clearance items (sign up for the newsletter and get an extra 15 percent off!).
JCPenney is one of our hidden gems for stocking up on work essentials. Be sure to check out the store’s Worthington label for blouses, skirts, and pants (all reasonably priced), and keep an eye out for designer collaborations, one of the latest being a shoe collection with Sam Edelman.
Ed Tip: Be sure to check your Sunday newspaper for bonus coupons (typically $15 off of $25), as well as JCPenney.com for exclusive online-only deals. Between sales and promotions, we recently nabbed five pairs of fall shoes for less than $100.
Target carved a niche in the fashion world with its own library of affordable labels and, the real buzz-generator, an impressive resume of collabs with high-end designers (among them Missoni, Rodarte, and Anna Sui). That includes an ongoing partnership with Who What Wear and the newly launched house label A New Day, each overflowing with trend-driven clothing and accessories for the budget-friendly fashionista.
Ed Tip: Download the Target Cartwheel App for special promotions, and keep an eye on those clearance racks, especially toward the end of the season when Target typically puts surplus on sale in an attempt to make room for new stock. Our ‘gets’ include $10 pencil skirts and $20 shift dresses.
5. Marshalls/T.J. Maxx
If you are not shopping Marshalls or its parent company T.J. Maxx, you’re missing out (or, as Vivian says on Pretty Woman, “Big mistake—huge!”). Both stores have made a name for themselves by selling designer duds and accessories at a steep discount (think Calvin Klein dresses for $40 and Polo button-ups for as low as $15). If you’re close, we suggest checking in often because things go fast.
Ed Tip: A lesser-known fact is that T.J. Maxx also sells goods online. Browse the website for the latest (there’s a clearance section too).
6. GAP/Banana Republic Factory
Just like J.Crew, GAP and sister company Banana Republic also have factory stores, often spotted at indoor and outdoor outlet malls. We tend to like the former for more casual attire, such as denim, tees, and sweaters, and the latter for sleek dresses, blouses, and trousers. Check the register area for an array of cocktail jewelry, sunglasses and ties to wrap up your style.
Ed Tip: Visit the websites for exclusive deals and offers, and sign up for the newsletters to ensure you don’t miss a beat (especially when it comes to seasonal sales).
Japanese brand Uniqlo is known for no-fuss fashions that get the job done. We’ve especially come to love their extensive button-up collection (they have every shade of the rainbow for $20-$30), jeans (now $30) and outerwear (we’re talking $40 parkas, people).
Ed Tip: Don’t forget to check out the online sale section. At time of print, tees were going for as low as $4).
H&M has become one of our go-tos for last-minute shopping needs. Ketchup on your shirt? The nearby store has your replacement top for $10. Last-minute meeting or interview? Stop in for a blazer on your way. Lately, the Swedish retail company has been killing the sweater game, with an extensive range of expensive-looking knits for as low as $12.
Ed Tip: Keep your eyes and ears open for pop-up deals (like $5 tees), designer collabs, and red stickers, especially toward the end of the season.
Kristin Granero has 10 years of experience in journalism and digital media, having written for publications like Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Women’s Health, and Teen Vogue, and managed social campaigns for TV networks like HBO. When she’s not exploring the latest industry trends or serving up tips for Ed, she’s searching for the latest and greatest guac in New York City.