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What you wear to work matters. It sucks, but it’s true. Luckily, not every item of clothing has to cost you hundreds of dollars to be worthy of the office. You can find high-quality items at more affordable prices, and some pieces simply don’t last no matter how much money you drop on them.
At the same time, certain pieces should be splurged on to ensure a good cut, quality fabric, and a long shelf life.
Cheap blazers look cheap. If there’s only one high-end item in your closet, make sure it’s a well-made black blazer. You don’t have to buy one from Dolce & Gabbana though. The label honestly doesn’t matter. I’ve found amazing blazers from lesser-known labels and they’ll be in my closet the rest of my life.
Pro tip: You can always try to find these expensive blazers on sale when the seasons change. That’s how I scored a $180 one from Anthropologie for twenty bucks.
No one really pays attention to cardigans, so you don’t need to spend more than $40 on one. Unless it’s cashmere or you love it too much to walk away, leave it in the store. Most of them can’t be washed and dried anyway, so cheaper ones won’t be destroyed so quickly.
Comfortable Heels: Splurge
If you’re going to buy heels, you need to go ahead and spend the extra money on a pair that won’t murder your feet. It might hurt you to pay so much for heels, but I promise it will hurt your feet (and your wallet) more if you buy all of your heels from Payless. Shoes that cost more also last longer, so you have to buy new shoes less frequently.
Plus, the obvious: they look better. Put your best shoe forward, right?
Ballet Flats: Save
Flats are flats no matter who makes them. They all wear out within one season, and they all look pretty much the same. Leave the designer pair for some other chump. You can find suitable ballet flats at Target or Forever21. Plus, you won’t be upset when they hurt your feet or fall apart.
You have to sit in these things all day, so the last thing you want is to purchase pairs that aren’t made well. It doesn’t matter if you’re allowed to wear jeans or required to don dress pants; splurge here so you have pants that will be comfortable but will also last you for years and years.
Plain, Neutral Tops: Save
There’s really no difference between a $30 white t-shirt and a $100 white t-shirt. Trust me, I know. I have both, and they both ended up warped after the first washing. When it comes to plain shirts no one can really identify, it doesn’t matter where they came from.
Like pants, you want these to be comfortable. Dresses are a complicated garment to cut and sew, so the cheaper ones always seem to fit just a little bit wrong. If it’s an expensive dress, you can be sure it will hang properly and be made to last forever. Splurge, splurge, splurge because good office dresses are irreplaceable.
This goes for skirts as well. Unfortunately, this simple piece of clothing tends to be completely jacked when made on the cheap. Frayed seams and uneven hems abound when you purchase work skirts from places like Forever21. For the sake of your co-workers and wardrobe, spend the extra money for a well-made skirt you can depend on.
Statement Jewelry: Save
Statement jewelry is a great thing. It can really pull a look together. At the same time, however, it’s a trendy thing, so a bejeweled necklace you love now can be one you loathe in a matter of months. Save your money here.
A Good Bag: Splurge
Your work bag is important because it holds everything you’ll need to survive until you can go home. It also can ruin or complete an outfit. Choose structured bags in either a neutral or deep jewel tone so you always have one to complete your outfit and skip anything loose, sloppy, or thin. Those power pumps won’t look so professional if you’re carrying a canvas tote.
You can’t wear a scarf every day of the year, and they tend to phase in and out like statement jewelry. You should never spend more than $30 (which is pushing it in my opinion) for a scarf. Chances are you won’t want to wear it next year anyway.
Never underestimate the power of a good coat. When it’s raining, snowing, windy, or just flat-out cold, you want a coat that will stand up to the weather and look amazing with your outfit. What you wear walking into the office is just as important as what you wear while you’re actually working. Spend what you have to for a good coat or two.