Your former shabby chic look won’t do for the very corporate job you just landed. But, you’re not sure what "office appropriate" means at the company you’re joining. And, between rent, car payment, utilities and socking a little something away for a rainy day, there’s not much left over to spend on a killer work wardrobe.
Less is more. You don't have to start a whole new job with a whole new wardrobe, says Rachael Weingarten, style expert and author of "Career and Corporate Cool." If you’re starting from scratch, invest in a few basics—well-tailored pants in black, grey, or other neutral colors, plus a not-too-short skirt that you can dress up or down. Then observe what people in your company and industry wear. Follow their lead: What’s acceptable at a fashion house would never fly at an accounting or law firm. Take regional differences into account, too—the well-dressed New York fashion girl might only wear black to a client meeting; in sunny South Beach, brighter colors are what it's all about. Don’t go overboard with the whole dress-for-success thing. You wouldn’t want your clothes to outshine your work or what your boss wears. Remember, you don't want to be pegged as a rich kid who doesn’t really need the job. If that means saving the vintage Chanel jacket that you scored at a second-hand store for after hours, so be it ... at least until you get to know your office mates better.
To Get Your Office Look for Less...
Hit the fashion sites before you hit the stores. Weingarten likes Polyvore, which lets you mix and match pictures of pieces from major designers to create outfits you can save and share— or be inspired by ensembles others put together. Once you’re ready to buy, look on Gigi’s Gone Shopping to see how clothes from retailers such as Ann Taylor, J. Crew and Anthropologie look on a regular (read non-model) girl’s body. Register at members-only online fashion discount shopping services like Rue La La, Gilt Groupe, or Ideeli for email notices of limited run sales on major brands. Love the designer but not the price? Madison Avenue Spy has the scoop on sample, warehouse, friends and family and other sales, as well as markdowns, discount promotion codes and bargains in and outside NYC. Go for the deals, stay for the Q&As with stylists and fashion insiders on their money-saving secrets.