Anyone in the working world knows the term Business Casual. As working professionals, we are expected to dress a certain way in order to adhere to office standards. The issue is that for many who are just starting out, or taking a career step, this can be a costly wardrobe to compile. Many business formal or business casual items start in the $20 an item range. Now for many I am sure this is no concern, but for many of us we cannot just go out and drop $100 on one new outfit for a job. If you fall into this, no way category, I have some news for you. You absolutely DO NOT have to spend a small fortune to create a business wardrobe. What you will need is patience.
I was a tomboy/super lazy dresser all throughout high school and into college. Once I was in college, I began working at daycares to pay my rent and my way through school. That did not help the whole lazy dresser situation. Once I started applying for fellowships and internships, I realized I had to step my outfit game up! I was told by one of the interviewers for a fellowship that even though my resume was impressive I had to make sure I was dressing the part. That has always stuck with me, I had heard it before but never so blatantly and at a time when I desperately wanted to be a member of this fellowship. That was the day I decided I had to create a professional wardrobe; it was also the day I realized just how broke I was haha.
As I stated, I lived on my own and paid my own way through college. It was tough to say the least and it also meant that most months I was living on negative $$$$$. The idea of creating a professional polished wardrobe seemed totally out of reach, until I made a visit to my favorite store – GOODWILL! Now I am sure many of you out there shop at Goodwill already but do you really shop? Do you find yourself wandering around one store for over an hour, digging deep into all of the items and even coming back on a regular basis (think 3x per week)? If your answer is no, this is exactly the time to change that.
I have been repeatedly blown away at the nice items I find at various Goodwill stores. Now in all honesty, I rarely find a complete outfit in one visit (it usually takes 2-3). However, once I have my items, I end up with a professional outfit that I paid around $20 for (that includes shoes and accessories) ……MIND=BLOWN. 😊
Below are my top tips for a Professional Wardrobe from Goodwill:
- Look everywhere! Do not rely on their size or color organization, dig through it all……you will be surprised at the items you find miscategorized or hidden.
- If you are Plus Size-always, always check the maternity rack. So often I find plus size items misplaced in that area.
- Be open to items that may be a little large or small, these often work as great undershirts, cover ups or you can even use accessories to synch them in and give a great tailored look.
- Double & Triple check all items! Look for small stains, tears, or any other blemishes. Since Goodwill receives so many donations, they often are not able to assess the clothing closely.
- The last thing you want to do is find a great shirt, at a great price, just to get it home and find out there is a hole in a bad place (trust me, it happens to the best of us).
- Try on/consider shoes that are a size too small or large. Many times, the various shoe brands will end up fitting you even though they claim to be the wrong size.
- For example, at any given time in Goodwill I can wear a size 8-9.5 shoe. It really just depends on the brands themselves.
- Shop the sales! Yes, the already very affordable store offers sales on a regular basis. When you go in look at the signs in the store and they will usually have a color and a % off. Do your best to find items that have this sale color.
- I have personally purchased shirts, dresses, shoes and more for less than $2 a piece working the sales.
- If you find an item with a small rip, a button missing, or just something that you are willing to either fix or ignore – do not forget to ask for a discount! Many times, they will take a small percentage off for damaged items.
- Lastly, shop consistently and always try out new locations! I have had amazing luck in some of the “nicer” more affluent areas of my city. However, I have had just as good of luck – if not better, in the “working” areas.
** Below are pictures of some of my favorite Goodwill finds**
Make sure to share pictures and updates if you give this a try! Once Covid numbers calm down in my area, I plan on posting a Goodwill shopping haul video! Let me know if this is something you would like to see 😊
Good Thrifting to you!!