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Outfits Under $100: Dressing Trendy on the Job


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Unless you have a job in retail or somewhere equally casual, chances are you have to dress professionally for work – whether that means a job on campus or an internship in your field. And while it’s great to invest in career wardrobe staples, sometimes you want to play with trends while still looking work-appropriate. And this post aims to help you do just that.

Below, I have compiled four sample outfits to show you how to stay cute, trendy, and professional while on the job. Each outfit is under $100 total.

Note: As always, these outfits are suggestions and may not be appropriate for every industry or workplace. And as always, consult your office’s dress code requirements and take your fashion cues from coworkers – when in doubt, err on the side of more conservative.

Outfit 1: $87.90

Work outfit 1
Top – Forever 21, Pants – H&M, Shoes – H&M, Bag – Forever 21, Glasses – Forever 21

Polka dots, colorblocking, and bright pops of color are trendy touches that can still be work-appropriate at all but the most conservative of offices. We love this basic polka dot oxford blouse because it can be paired with everything. Colored denim is all the rage, but it’s easy to translate to a work environment if you rock colorful trousers instead.

Outfit 2: $84.48

Trendy work outfit 2
Dress – Target, Jacket – H&M, Tights – Forever 21, Shoes – Charlotte Russe

Emerald green is a hot color trend for Spring 2013, and an emerald dress provides a great way to try the trend at work. Pair it with a blazer and tights for extra polish. Simple suede ankle booties add another trendy touch without going overboard.

Outfit 3: $98.93

Work outfit 3
Shirt – H&M, Skirt – Dorothy Perkins, Cardigan – Target, Shoes – Modcloth

Black & white is a major trend for Spring 2013 and happens to be perfect for wearing to work. Since the colors are neutral, make sure your outfit includes fun little details, like a bow on your blouse and Mary Jane-style shoes.

Outfit 4: $96.78

Work outfit 4
Top – Charlotte Russe, Skirt – Modcloth, Shoes – Forever 21, Earrings – Dorothy Perkins

We still can’t get enough ombre. If you also have a love for this trend, feel free to rock it at work! Pair a subtle ombre skirt with a modest blouse and proper cap-toe pumps to keep it professional.

We want to know your thoughts!

How do you stay professional on a budget? Where are your favorite stores for work clothes? Which style above is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

Posted on on February 13, 2013 / Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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13 Responses to “Outfits Under $100: Dressing Trendy on the Job”

  1. 1
    February 13th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Very much needed this. Thank you

  2. 2
    February 13th, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Honestly, the last outfit is the only one I’d wear to my internship. The first one is kind of cute, but the middle two just seem too trendy or dressy. And I’ve worked in some pretty casual, laid-back office environments. I guess it just depends on personal tastes/industries!

  3. 3
    February 13th, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Most of these are cute, but the dress in outfit #2 is way too short to be professional

  4. 4
    February 13th, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    While these ideas are very cute and inspired, I have to agree with Felicity. As a woman who has been in the professional world for a few years now, it is absolutely *never* OK to wear a super-short dress to work.

    Forever 21, Delias, Wet Seal, et. al. make fun clothes, but unless you are a very petite woman, their dresses are cut *extremely* short. You are doing your readers a disservice by letting them think that short dresses from stores that cater to teens and college girls will slide in any professional setting. Far be it from me to play the fashion police, but I’ve witnessed MANY conversations among colleagues about interns who seemed to be clueless about what’s work-appropriate.

    In my experience, young men and women who present themselves in an unprofessional way come across as oblivious, and will rarely be the top candidates when a full-time position opens up.

  5. 5
    February 13th, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Lizzie – Glad you liked!

    Sarah – That’s really interesting! I can see your point about outfit 2 but outfit 3, to me, seems pretty casual and classic, actually – interesting that you’d see it as trendy/ dressy, while to me, a longer skirt and cardigan in neutral tones seems very toned-down. Just goes to show that work wear can be really subjective – I think the best barometer is almost always the office dress code and what other employees are wearing.

    Felicity and Saph – Good point! That dress measures 33″ long (on a size small), so a size S definitely would be too short on anyone who wasn’t really petite. Our past posts on workwear have emphasized that dresses should hit at or slightly above the knee, so we assume readers know that, however I should have caught that short dress in this particular post. I’ll replace it with something longer.

  6. 6
    February 13th, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    For my professional style (academics, moderately conservative field) I used the style blogs Capital Hill Style and Corporette. None of these would really fly in my field. Too short, too “childish” fun, too see through/sleeveless/tight.

  7. 7
    February 13th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Hi –

    So I’m an avid reader of this blog, even though I just graduated college a few years back. I’m currently in graduate school and working full time in marketing.

    I think the biggest mistake ladies make is wearing “going-out shoes” in a professional setting, like the booties in outfit #2. To me, it screams “I’m inexperienced.” And that’s not saying work shoes have to be boring. I am obsessed with my leopard print flats and zara ikat-patterned heeled boots.

    Also – the T shirt/Cardigan thing is really overdone, especially in corporate. A cool moto jacket is an awesome substitute for a cardi or blazer when paired with a nice, feminine blouse.

    For my inspiration, I check out It’s all super expensive stuff, but there’s always a knock-off at Forever21 (or the real thing for cheap at TJMaxx).

  8. 8
    February 13th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I work in a political office of all women, so I will admit that it only works for me because skirt length is not an issue.

  9. 9
    February 13th, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    This is such good timing! I have two jobs, one with a specific dress code that it easy to follow (white shirt, jeans, black shoes) and one with a vague “office professional” guideline. It would be great if you could come up with tips for transitioning an outfit from everyday to work appropriate or from one job to another.

  10. 10
    February 14th, 2013 at 1:19 am

    I really liked outfit #2, and I think the dress is changed now, because I would think it long enough.

    Outfit #1 might have worked better with pants in a more muted color, for instance oxblood? Or a more neutral top. In an office setting it might be better with just one part of the outfit that’s a little fashion forward (but, like you said, it really depends on the dress code. )

    #3 I don’t like bows, so it does not really works for me – and something about it does not make it work-wear to me, maybe the top, the lines of the skirt?

    #4 something about the color match between the skirt and shirt seems of? But it could work out beautifully!

    Like these posts!

  11. 11
    February 14th, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Love these! <3

  12. 12
    February 15th, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I wish you had more options with pants and without heels! I work in a lab environment where I am not allowed to where heels or dresses, skirts, or shorts.

    It is difficult to wear the same type of pants everyday without mixing it up!

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