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Outfits Under $100: Business Casual on a Budget


First and foremost, thank you for all the positive feedback on my last article! Many of you suggested that I include prices for the outfits, which will be done from this point forward.

You also shared what you wanted to see in future articles. Business casual was the most requested, so that will be the focus of this week’s article.

Whether you have an interview, internship or part time job, business casual clothing is something you will most likely be wearing at some point in your life. What someone considers business casual can vary depending on the workplace or person, but I find that it’s always better to overdressed than underdressed.

Business casual can also get very expensive, very fast, so I put together three different examples of business casual wear for under $100:

Outfit #1: Interview Savvy

Business Casual Skirt

Product Information: Blouse- Miss Selfridge, Skirt- Charlotte Russe, Headbands- Forever 21, Heels- Target, Earrings- Forever 21

Outfit Total: $92

The best way to stand out in an interview is with a bright pop of color, and this ruffled top is perfect for that. Pair the bright top with a knee-length pencil skirt and heels like the ones above, to make the look more conservative. Accessories should be a little fun, so I added some heart-shaped earrings and I couldn’t resist adding these basic headbands (only $1.50 for both!)

Outfit #2: Internship Maven

Business Casual Pants

Product Information: Pants- New York & Company, Shirt- Old Navy, Cardigan- Target, Ring- Forever 21, Heels- Target, Belt- Forever 21

Outfit Total: $97

If you’re an intern, you want to dress professionally, but still show off your personal style. The gray dress pants and white button-up shirt are very basic, but adding a purple cardigan really brightens the whole outfit. The skinny belt can either be worn traditionally through the belt loops or around an open cardigan. Finish the outfit off with these cute heels and a bow ring that mimics the bow on the shoe.

Outfit #3: Job Guru

Business Casual Dress

Product Information: Dress- YesStyle, Flats- Peacocks, Blazer- Forever 21, Tights- Urban Outfitters, Necklace- Forever 21

Outfit Total: $96

If you have a part time job in an office, business casual is usually the norm. Depending on where you work, you may want to keep the color palette neutral. This black and white printed dress is still fun despite the muted colors. Since the dress only reaches mid-thigh, wear tights. Throw on a professional-looking black blazer, these adorable patent flats, and accessorize with a versatile long-strand necklace.

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on clothing, separates are your best friend. All of the clothing and accessories above can be mixed and matched into new outfits, which saves you money and expands your wardrobe.

What Do You Think?

Do you often find yourself shopping on a budget? Do you have a difficult time finding business casual clothing? Where is your favorite place to shop when you want to save money? Do you mix up your wardrobe to create more outfits? Leave a comment and tell me!

Remember, if you have a suggestion for a future edition of Outfits Under $100, leave a comment and let me know!

Posted on on January 17, 2010 / Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , , ,

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34 Responses to “Outfits Under $100: Business Casual on a Budget”

  1. 1
    January 17th, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I really dislike the 1st outfit. Red seems too strong/harsh for a job interview, it’s way too matchy-matchy and the heart earrings are childish.

    The third outfit is definitely cute though. I like these under $100 posts!

  2. 2
    January 17th, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Great post!

    I’ve just got a job in admin and these outfits have given me some inspiration for what to wear in the office. I particularly like the first and third outfits. I think I may have to invest in that shirt :)

  3. 3
    January 17th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Great post! I really liked the second outfit and the pencil skirt in the first outfit. These gave me tons of ideas so thanks!

  4. 4
    January 17th, 2010 at 10:55 am

    good post but red is something your not supposed to wear, its a very aggressive color and communicates the wrong idea at times. also, try marshall’s and tj maxx for good business casual wear. i got 2 pair of very nice slacks for 13 a piece.

  5. 5
    January 17th, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Truthfully, red is perfectly fine for an interview. I interview college interns in my job and as long as you look clean and out together you pass presentation points. What you can’t wear is something like a lime-green suit, that makes me think I wont be able to look at you on a daily basis.

    The worst things you can do for an interview: open-toe shoes, bad hair, chipped nail polish, too much perfume, sunglasses on your head, be late and look tired and for the love of god, dont chew gum!

    If you dont have closed toe shoes and you’re on a budget, wear stockings under them. If you dont have time to wash your hair, pull it back in a bun. If you dont have time to paint your nails at least remove the old polish, clean nails are better than chipped. As for nail color very dark colors are the new neutrals so it’s not bad – nonos are things like neons, mint green, wild blues etc.

  6. 6
    January 17th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Great ideas, I really like Outfit #2

  7. 7
    January 17th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    hey wats wring with open toes???
    i have these black patent leather,4 inch peep toe heels….i like
    is that appropriate fr formal stuff?

  8. 8
    January 17th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I think you did a great job with this post, especially in terms of the basic elements for each look. On the money, but:

    Speaking as someone who has interviewed and interned a lot: I agree that the headbands along with the heart earrings are not quite the right note to hit. Probably either or–keep the accessories that are special and personal unobtrusive, just something to make you feel good. The earrings alone wouldn’t be that noticeable.

    I would definitely, definitely wear a jacket to any interview.

    Avoid heels that are too high. 4 inches, way too high. Too sexy, and what if you have to walk along to an office with someone? better a lower heel for the height, look, style and fit of your clothes but still able to walk comfortably with normal strides.

  9. 9
    January 17th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you so much. Business casual is just what I needed for an upcoming sorority interest meeting.

  10. 10
    January 17th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Outfit #1 is really cute, put-together, but young at the same time. But my fave is Outfit #3, very sophisticated and beautiful. I’m not very sure about the second ouftit though, but you did a very good job!

  11. 11
    January 17th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Nice post!

    I agree with Isabelle (comment no. 8). That’s really good advice!

    I also agree with Kaya (comment no. 10) on the outfits. I would definitely wear #1 and #3, but I wouldn’t wear #2. It’s too conservative for a powerful young business woman!

    Milana from FashionStyleAdvice

  12. 12
    January 17th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Good idea for a post!

    The only problem I have is with the length of the dress in the third option – it’s a cute outfit but mid-thigh is wayyyyyy too short even with tights! Leave anything more than an inch or two above the knee out of the office!

  13. 13
    January 17th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I think you did a great job.
    Do you thrift?
    I go to thrift stores a lot and i decided to get business casual clothes because i am going to be looking for internships this summer.
    What i got:
    1. Xhilaration Bllack Pants-$2.00
    2. White Shirt (button up)-$2.00
    3. Gray Pants (ha ha they were too long but I’ll cut them) -$2.00
    4. Black and white striped pants-$1.40
    So i got 3 pants for less than $6.00
    If you don’t have much money and don’t mind buying used clothes (which u can dry clean b4 wearing), then d thrift store is perfect.
    I’ll get a blazer soon but i have not found the perfect one.

  14. 14
    January 17th, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I am inline with many of the other comments that open toe shoes are definitely a no-no. As for heel height, no higher than 2 inches is what I have been told (and what I wear). The only exceptions I have heard for heel heights is if you work in the fashion industry. I really liked outfits 2 and 3! I think outfit 1 is really inappropriate because the shirt looks almost sleeveless and the skirt looks too tight. The best advice I have ever received about business-wear is IRON IRON IRON! Wrinkled clothing is never in style:) Great job with this article, I can’t wait to see what else you have to share with us!

  15. 15
    January 17th, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for all the feedback! I just wanted to show some basic elements to business casual in this article and use one outfit showcasing pants, one with a dress and another with a skirt.

    I didn’t realize how quickly the $100 would add up! Many of the websites I looked at had pieces that started at $70 each.

    If you have a little extra cash to spare, check out Express, New York & Company or Ann Taylor for business casual clothing. Or shop when they have amazing semi-annual sales!

    Isabelle- Thanks for all those great tips!

    Donette- I agree! TJ Maxx and Marshalls are great places to find business casual clothing.

    Different- I normally don’t thrift, but after seeing those great deals you got, you’ve inspired me to go to my local thrift store.

    A few of you think the first outfit is inappropriate, and I agree that it could be, depending on the industry you work for. Throwing on a blazer like in outfit #3 or a neutral-colored top would make it more conservative.

  16. 16
    January 17th, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    I think it is a very important to state that bussiness casual varies widely from one society to another; and in that line, I disagree with your saying that “overdressed is always better than underdresses”. I work in a grad-school in Argentina, and bussiness casual for me and the girls who work with me (a bit older than me, but all under 35) means a darker shade of jeans, a cute top and a pair of flats. Only our boss wears pencil skirts and nice shirts; if we would dress like her, I think we might look presuntous or something like that.

    Apart from that, great article, great outfits.

  17. 17
    January 17th, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    when some of you all are saying open-toed shoes are inappropriate, does that include peep toes?

    BTW, I have been waiting for this article and i love it and love you for writing it.
    I feel more inspired with my work clothes :)

  18. 18
    January 18th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I don’t think the earrings in #1 are appropriate.

  19. 19
    January 18th, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Good ideas! I’m always buying business casual clothes when I see them on sale!
    I’d say for an interview stick to closed toed shoes, once you get the job you can test the waters and try a peep-toe. (only for fashion/music related fields)
    For an interview always wear a jacket/blazer! It’s better to look more conservative/dressed up for the first impression.

  20. 20
    January 18th, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    My mother is a recruiter for a law firm in Atlanta and would not admit anyone wearing outfit #1 to the interview – the earrings come off as juvenile and the red is as previously mentioned a little aggressive, especially if being interviewed by a man. Just a warning to anyone wanting to perhaps do a summer internship at a law firm or accounting, etc. I know that what’s considered appropriate in different fields is of course different.

  21. 21
    January 19th, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I work in a bank and never, ever wear a heel higher than 2 or 2 1/2 inches. And while outfit #2 is a little mature for someone in their 20s, your bosses (usually) would rather that you look too mature than too childish. I’m actually still in my teens, but very few of our members at the bank guess that because of how I dress, and they are surprised (in a good way) when I tell them I still go to high school.

  22. 22
    January 22nd, 2010 at 8:14 am

    like the first one and the cardigan frm the 2nd
    the first outfit looks lika a blair waldorf inspiration

  23. 23
    January 24th, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    It sounds silly, but when looking for a job a clothing store is a good thing to consider. Let me explain-I used to work at Banana Republic and employees get a MASSIVE discount on clothing at it and its franchises.
    Besides that I tend to find good business casual at the above mentioned Express and Marshalls.

    I also add conservative pieces from my own daily closet to my business wardrobe. For example Miley Cyrus with Max Azaria’s line for target had a button down top with a decorative neckline that could be modest when worn with a tank under and blazer on top.

    This was a great article for the budget friendly! Thanks again for writing a nice piece :)

  24. 24
    January 24th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Outfit one would be better if the blouse was a soft blue. No headband and pearl earrings.

    Outfit 2 Is classy and perfect!

    Outfit 3’s jacket would go perfectly with outfit 1 or two.

    My recommendations to start
    Jacket – 1 basic black
    Sweater (color)
    Skirt – 1 black,
    Slacks – 2 (black & gray)
    Blouses – 5, (2 white, 1 gray, 1 light blue, 1 pink)
    Belts – 1 narrow, 1 wide
    Shoes – Black (mid heel, low heel)
    Purse – Black
    Jewelry – minimal is better for office (pearls, gold, silver)

    One of the most professional women I know’s entire wardrobe is navy on the bottom and white blouses. Everything mixes and matches and makes traveling extremely easy.

    Good luck.

  25. 25
    January 26th, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I wonder why thrift stores aren’t mentioned more often.
    Black pants (Dockers)- $2.00 Goodwill

  26. 26
    October 2nd, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Amazing stuff! I’ve just got a job in sales ,these outfits have given me some inspiration .i like first one and will have a try on it .

  27. 27
    August 31st, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    It would help to mention that Peacocks doesn’t ship outside the UK.

  28. 28
    October 2nd, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Just sent this link to my daughter and know it will be most helpful. Thanks for great examples and advice.

  29. 29
    November 21st, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I was having trouble figuring out what to wear to work today, and when I saw this I got so excited because I have a dress just like the third outfit! I love looking at this website when I’m struggling with what to wear. I always find great inspiration. Thanks!

  30. 30
    December 12th, 2012 at 4:42 am

    Outfit #1 and Outfit #2 are number one. I love them.

  31. 31
    December 12th, 2012 at 4:45 am

    I like Oufit No#1 and 2.

  32. 32
    October 23rd, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks :) just what I need

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