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The M Dash

Live with purpose.

Workwear Price Guide: Where to Invest (and Where to Fake It)

June 18, 2015

When you’re building your work uniform, it’s all about prioritizing. There’s a commonly held myth that you should splurge on bags and shoes, and skimp on the rest of your wardrobe. We beg to differ, which is why we created a workwear price guide.

A pair of $700 stilettos is not going to make your workday any easier; but having an array of high-quality pieces in mostly neutral colors will definitely simplify your life.

And while you should generally avoid fast fashion (we prefer ours slow) in favor of quality workwear, you don’t have to break the bank every time you shop. Here’s our price guide to help you stay within a reasonable range when you shop for work.

workwear price guide

Every woman needs a versatile LBD.

Invest ($200+)

Day-to-night dress
If you can wear a dress from 8am to 10pm and feel fabulous along the way, it’s worth every penny.

Versatile blazer
A classic blazer or knit jacket is the quickest way to go from business-casual to business-formal, without having to think about it. Bonus: On the weekends, you can wear it with jeans and tousled hair for an I-just-woke-up-like-this vibe.

Tailored pants or skirt
When you come across the right skirt or pair of pants, you’ll know it because you’ll want to wear them multiple times a week—and why shouldn’t you? When you find a cut that flatters your shape, don’t think twice. Invest.

Elegant (but not flashy) bag
Under no circumstances do you need to own this season’s it-bag. But you do need some kind of vessel in which to haul your stuff, and ideally, it should look as polished as you do. Check out our favorites here.

workwear price guide

New neutrals: We love a jacket in an understated color paired with a chic pencil skirt.

Spend Moderately ($50-$200)

Your sweaters should look new and luxurious (no pilling!), but if you can’t spring for a Loro Piana vicuña-wool beauty just yet, don’t fret. A basic cardigan with a bit of intrigue is perfectly fine for the office.

Pencil skirt
It’s one of the most useful pieces you can buy, and yet, it’s rarely the star of your outfit. Opt for beautiful and basic, but still interesting.

Silk blouse
These days, silky blouses are as affordable as they are elegant. We love Equipment, Everlane, and of course MM.LaFleur.

There are two rules for work shoes: (1) they need to look clean and well-maintained, and (2) you must be able to walk in them. As in, actually walk. Comfortably. If you’re teetering by noon, rethink your footwear.

See What You Can Get Away With (Under $50)

Tank tops / camisoles
For layers that you’ll wear under dresses or tops, keep it simple. Focus on color and comfort—not brand name.

We never understood the appeal of super expensive t-shirts. Ethically made options from Everlane and Marine Layer suit us just fine. And when you want to step it up, there’s the Didion.

Don’t go too cheap (back away from the Duane Reade), but don’t feel like you have to spend $60 every time you buy tights. Commando offers comfortable, durable options that won’t dig or bunch over the course of the workday.

Accessories / jewelry you might get tired of
We swear by easy everyday jewelry that goes with everything. But if you like to rotate your jewelry and accessories on the regular, don’t spend too much on any single piece. Pick up vintage items or check out independent jewelers who sell their wares at flea markets. Just make sure that whatever you wear won’t distract you from your purpose at work.

For more advice on how to outfit yourself for the office, check out Wear to Work: A Guide to Building Your Ultimate Professional Uniform.

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