Thursday, April 25, 2013

You Can Get Dressed for Court for $10

I think I've found a weekly theme for budget career dressing, and that's showing photographs of professional career wear for the conservative office - for under $10 (not including shoes. My advice is buy the best shoes you can afford.)

The Deets: Ann Taylor jacket (Goodwill $3.75); Loft fully lined front pleat skirt ($3.75 Goodwill);
Vintage brooch thrifted in college; Vintage Silver hinged bangle (eBay); 
Nine West pumps (Ross); obligatory rebel ankle bracelet

Obtaining a work wardrobe for a new career - on a very minimal budget - can be a real challenge. In this down economy, many adults have found themselves back in school, while their families survive on unemployment, dwindling savings, or welfare. Women from all walks of life suddenly need clothes appropriate for an office, after years of high school or college, staying home and raising children, wearing uniforms to underpaying jobs, and/or even having just undergone a radical change in figure or weight. There is no wiggle room in many budgets to buy a whole new work wardrobe. But looking like a professional is very much a key part of finding success at a new job.

HDR'd for the deets like the front pleats.
This is what I really look like on a busy day at the law office.

When women in this position talk to me, I encourage them to think deep clearance racks at better retail stores like Macy's - and secondhand, including eBay. Some people are put off by looking for pre-loved clothes and may still think thrift stores smell funny and all the clothes are hard used and shrunken from the dryer, but there are plenty of well-designed and constructed, major label clothing pieces - if you're persistent and patient. 

Huh. I think this is my new professional head shot. 
You can take great photos at home for your LinkedIn profile.

If you haven't already, try taking my Goodwill Career Wear Challenge. Give yourself $10 to spend at Goodwill (or similar secondhand organization in your area), and see if you can find one outfit for the office (not including shoes of course). I'll be doing it myself a couple of times a month to share with you guys. If you want to share a photo of your Goodwill Career Wear Challenge outfit with us, please send me a photo of you with The Deets (see above) and a few sentences about how you found your outfit and what you like about it. (To email me, see the About Me page for contact info).

27 comments:

  1. Wow - you look very court-ly and fabulous in this suit, Lynne. I love this challenge. Your hair is magnificent! Loved your article at Karina Chronicles too : >

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    1. Thanks, Patti. It was a fun article to write :)

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  2. You look amazing and so professional...the power of Goodwill and a beautiful woman!!

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  3. I love this, Lynne! I wish I had thought of buying secondhand for professional wear in my first year of law school. I did buy the suit I needed cheap on J.Crew super clearance, but I probably could've done better at the Dillards clearance store, Goodwill, etc.

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  4. This is a beautiful outfit, Lynne.
    I love Goodwill thrifting and I have very good luck, but I have found that finding good pieces can really depend on the location of the Goodwill. I have one to the North and one to South within 10 miles of my home and they are both well stocked. They also border some very ritzy neighborhoods so the pickings are not slim!
    It does take some time and patience for sure.
    I was just hired for a new job...which will require court appearances weekly...so I'll be looking to you for court appropriate work wear! Hmmmmmm...maybe a weekly feature?

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    1. I hope it will be a weekly feature, especially with help from friends. I plan to share Goodwill Career Wear Challenge photos as I receive them, and I know you recently got some good threads for your new job (subtle hint here :)

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  5. Lynne--your hair really is amazing in that color!!!

    Gorgeous outfit!! I find stuff with tags on it all the time at the thrifts!! It amazes me someone spent $70+ for askirt and NEVER wore it!! But better for ME!!!

    I've got at least a dozen outfits lined up for the challenge!! I dress better now that i thrift than when I brought retail!!

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    1. Super! I plan to share Goodwill Career Wear Challenge pics as I receive them. You know this blog is all about real women on real budgets, so it can only be better with guest posts from other thrifty ladies :)

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  6. I love this outfit - especially the blazer!! And I need that challenge now more than ever with all the fun home and car repairs we have had lately! I think I can easily spare an extra $10 though! I may have to head to Goodwill this weekend!

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    1. I plan to share Goodwill Career Wear Challenge pics as I receive them, and I would love to feature you, Beth!

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  7. That sounds like so much fun! I'm in! As a fellow law career woman and thrifter, I totally concur. There is no reason to spend a fortune dressing professionally (though I can pretty much wear what I want, but most of it is professional, I would like to think). That photo of your face (saw it on FB too) is so beautiful Lynne.

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    1. I plan to share Goodwill Career Wear Challenge pics as I receive them. This blog is all about celebrating real women with real budgets, and it can only get better with some guest appearances from others with the same mindset :)

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  8. Ooh hey, I'd like to try this challenge! I'm guessing coupons don't count, otherwise I'd head over to a newly-opened nonprofit thrift store with the flyer they mailed me. (Well, I'll probably do that anyway.) But when I have a free weekend, I'll give the challenge a go, although my definition of "for the office" might be a little more flexible than other folks, hahaha.

    By the way, since this comment is all about me--you look great! Very classy, and I always love your ankle bracelet!

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    1. I plan to share Goodwill Career Wear Challenge posts as I receive them. This blog is all about real women on real budgets, and of course I'd like to share your pics. You're beautiful, thrifty, and you do work in an office. Coupons count, Mia! I know that many offices are more flexible than mine has gotten :o

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  9. Fabulous as always, and your hair is positively RED! On the right day, I could leave goodwill with 9 pieces for that $10. Of course, right now, I'm convincing myself to stay out of the thrift stores and behave.

    I want an entirely unprofessional tattoo number 3.

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    1. I keep thinking about getting a tattoo, but can't decide what I want it to be. I research images all the time. I'd love to have you participate in the Goodwill Career Wear Challenge - I bet you have something already you could put together - or you could do a $2 outfit :) Something to wear on biz casual interviews even.

      I love this hair color so much, I'll pro'bly never go back. The Power Red Booster was so, er, dramatic, that when I wiped it off my forehead, I must've wiped it off a few roots in front as well. I can't wait to do a root touch up/refresh about 10 day from now :)

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  10. Hey, where's that girl in the orange retro maxi?

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    1. Darn her conservative office day job...lol. But she could pro'bly keep an eye out for an orange blouse, dress, or jacket :)

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  11. What a great idea, Lynne. Love this feature. It will be a great help with wonderful ideas on how you can dress nicely on a tight budget.
    I'm still amazed to know one can find Ann Taylor and Loft clothing in like new condition for those prices! Gets my adreneline going just thinking about it. ha

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  12. Looks great on you . Goodwill has some good stuff. I. sometimes miss wearing suits. If I wore a suit they would think I was interviewing.

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  13. Love this very 60's inspired little jacket
    So classic and the broach just gives a wink to the 60's vibe
    Brett

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  14. Lynne, wow! I love this suit on you and I love your advice. I was at my local thrift shop yesterday where I saw a nicely-dressed woman about my age who seemed to be experiencing her very first thrift outing. I should have told her that the clothes won't bite! I know she'll be back and maybe next time even buy something. You're a great role model/model for this exercise.

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  15. You look so chic and so smart - and all on a tight budget! Just shows what you can find if you look hard and have a good eye.
    As an umeployed slacker, I can't join your workwear challenge, but I will watch and applaud from the sidelines! xxxx

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  16. that is a great challenge, and i love the look you put together! while I can find some great deals at the thrift store, I can never put one whole outfit together in a single trip (i'm not that lucky, haha)
    Chic on the Cheap

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  17. Lynne, these shots are awesome! And I totally agree with you. Persistence and patience, as you said, are the key words here. I have people tell me that there's nothing in the thrift stores, but I have found everything from real silver dinnerware to a vintage alligator purse to a 500-dollar pair of boots!! And it's because I am persistent! You look beautiful and your hair looks great!

    xoxo
    Lynn

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  18. $3 what...??? That was seriously one hell of a find!

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  19. This outfit is fabulous. And so inexpensive too. I'm very impressed with you, ma'am! And I will totally find an outfit to share!

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