Women's fashions
November 9, 2013 1:10 PM   Subscribe

As a working woman where do you shop for your clothes?

So if you are a working woman, your office culture is casual but you want to dress stylishly and not boringly where would you shop? (online and offline).

Specifically looking for ideas on how to dress up creatively/more colors/fun/not too traditional but also keep up the professional look.

Any sites out there that can help? Would love your recommendations on where you shop and how you get your ideas around dressing up for the office. Thanks
posted by ladoo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
Online: I have gotten lucky at Modcloth for beautiful, unusual things. ASOS has interesting things, so far they haven't really worked for me but I am going to keep trying because they really do have a variety of creative stuff. For less creative, more trendy/classic (but more interesting than Anne Taylor etc), I love White House Black Market - their website has a wider range of sizes than their stores, by the way. I also just signed up for stitchfix.com which is a service that sends you things a stylist has picked for you based on your preferences and proportions, but I haven't seen their picks yet.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:22 PM on November 9, 2013

After COS has arrived on the market, it is my first place to go. They have great colors (even though the page opens on B/W), great forms and fit and very much a style that can be adapted to any work environment from casual to formal with accessories. It means a lot to me that their clothes are very easily maintained as well.

For my entire life, since I was 10 or 12, I've relied on British Vogue for style. They have a workwear section regularly, but it is more the whole British thing of "quirky conservatism" that appeals to me and inspires me, even though I can't at all afford the clothes.
posted by mumimor at 1:25 PM on November 9, 2013

I recently discovered Boden and I am in love with things like these shoes.
posted by pitrified at 1:36 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

Boden is pricey but they have sales and sell beautiful stuff. Modcloth is pretty good too. I'm usually pretty boring/basic with pants and cardigans but I try to find cute and different tops at places like Gap so i can wear something fun with a blazer or suit or cardigan. Colorful scarves and fun accessories also really make an outfit. Also check out Garnet Hill.
posted by kat518 at 1:51 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing ModCloth. I like Anthropologie when the price is right (it's often too expensive for the quality). H&M is often good for interesting but work-friendly stuff. Talbots and Lands End have amazing online sales from time to time; they aren't very adventurous but they're great for staples.

I gaze longingly at Boden and Garnet Hill but they're on the pricey side for me.

I've done a few StitchFix boxes and they're a lot of fun, though not everything I received was work-friendly.

I also like to poke around TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack and the like. In addition to the "careerwear" section I usually stop by the juniors' clothes; sometimes you can find tops and cardigans that are fun but not overly trendy or casual.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

J Crew--the stuff goes on sale pretty often. For high end, Brooks Bros. Black Fleece, which is deceptively simple, really well-made and very pricey. Eileen Fisher is well made, but some find it very dull, but I think it's good for basic stuff. Look on Polyvore for inspiration.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2013

How old are you, and how are you proportioned? Are you petite or plus sized, or both?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:52 PM on November 9, 2013

Eddie Bauer has surprisingly nice stuff. Nice, classy looking, dark-wash, on-trend jeans that don't require the whole office to know the exact shape of my lower half.
posted by bleep at 2:58 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck finding reasonably priced and stylish office-friendly clothes at: Ann Taylor and its younger sister The Loft; Macy's; Nordstrom Rack; Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx; occasionally thrift stores (seems like the more professional stuff like blouses and slacks are easier to come by than 'hipper' vintage pieces, and older women I work with always seem charmed by seeing someone my age [late 20's] wearing something they owned in 1982.) I personally don't try to shop for work clothes online because I like a more tailored look and that almost always means I have to be able to try stuff on first. When I shop for stuff to wear to work, I really try to look for versatile pieces that I can wear in my off-time too--for example, i have a few silk blouses (thrift store!) that i can put with a nice pencil skirt and blazer and wear to a client meeting, and then go home, pair it with some tight jeans, heels, funky jewelry and leather jacket or sweater and it's transformed to a pretty sexy Friday-night-out-worthy ensemble. So that's my random tip; that if you put a little thought in to the pieces you buy you can have a nice wardrobe without spending a ton of money or segregating the clothes into "work" and "play".
posted by lovableiago at 3:08 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

i recently discovered New York & Company, and bought an entire season's worth of work clothes there. They have good prices, and all of their stuff coordinates, so it is easy to buy shirts, cardigans, pants, etc and have it all work together to make a huge number of outfits. They also have outlets, which is a great way to get in-season stuff even cheaper. highly recommend.
posted by tryniti at 3:12 PM on November 9, 2013

I am lucky to live in an area rich in consignment stores, so I buy a lot of stuff secondhand. Crossroads has a lot of young and trendy stuff but it also has classic jeans, knit tops, casual pants and so on.

Sometimes if I know a particular designer/brand will fit me in Size X I will look for it on Ebay.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:14 PM on November 9, 2013

Uniqlo for basics like cashmere sweaters or cardigans, shift dresses, print dresses, cute trenches or peacoats, colored corduroys, etc.
posted by greta simone at 3:19 PM on November 9, 2013

I've always loved Ann Taylor (and Ann Taylor Loft). I also used to pick up INC and New York & Company stuff from the dept stores in the US. Here in Canada it's much harder, so I go with Melanie Lynn and Laura. Now I tend to buy basics at Laura, where it's cheap, and then supplement it with, say, a jacket from Ann Taylor to perk it up a little.
posted by routergirl at 3:19 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I work in a business casual environment and tend to purchase work clothes at Banana Republic and Ann Taylor. Never pay full price - sign up for their emails. Both stores regularly have 30-40% off, especially BR.
posted by polkadot at 3:32 PM on November 9, 2013

Vince, Theory and Everlane are favorites of mine - I wear classic/basic styles, I don't feel comfortable in lots of quirky details or girly things. Admittedly some of my work clothes are pricey and on the formal side, but the managers at my office are usually wearing suits so I feel like I have to step it up! I just wait for sales at end of season and buy separates that fit my guidelines (shopstyle.com is handy for searching items by label/price). From J Crew, I go for their perfect tees and cashmere and their classic coats. And I try to be sure everything fits very well, especially blazers and trousers. I also look at J Crew's website for styling because I like the way they put together unexpected color combinations in a way that's still, frankly, tasteful and professional enough that people at my office won't think I look weird.

The most helpful thing was figuring out my color palette and the silhouette that flatters me and sticking to it, never buying items outside it even if they're cute and on sale. For me, this means nothing with undertones of yellow/orange and no dusty, muted colors and no skirts that hit at the wrong length or are too full through the hip. I could pull any sweater or top from my closet and pair it with just about any skirt or trousers because of the limited color range. And all the prints I own are small in scale, whether it's dots or Liberty floral or plaid or pinstripe. So it's pretty easy to mix up a couple of prints - floral with stripes or checks - and the prints go well with heathered or tweed bottoms as well. That's how I try to be a little extra stylish, I guess; instead of solid navy or gray or black with a solid color top, I'll wear a navy heather or grey heather skirt with a tiny floral blouse that has a little bit of color in the pattern and then just throw on a blazer.
posted by citron at 3:32 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I work in corporate creative. I waffle between Goofy Creative and Serious Business Lady. I'm also very strategic with my Expensive Purchases.

So, I'm generally in some combination of Club Monaco, Vince, Madewell, All Saints, NU New York, Wilfred, and Dolce Vita.
posted by ulfberht at 4:43 PM on November 9, 2013

I love Talbots! I was surprised to find that I love their clothes, in my mind they were clothes for frumpy old ladies. They have lots of colorful styles, and very classic looks. And yes, some frumpy ones as well. Like polkadot said, always wait for the sales.
posted by feidr2 at 4:54 PM on November 9, 2013

I have also been pleasantly surprised at Talbots and don't find the cut boxy on me. In fact I'm generally impressed with the tailoring and fit of things like blazers and pants. Not everything is a win but many things are. It's easy to take conservative suit pieces and pair them with a fresher blouse/shell, scarf, etc.

I've also recently started experimenting with Chico's, which I've always thought of as for an older, glitzier 50-60something lady demographic. It kind of still is, but by picking through the options you can find some very good, perennially wearable strong, solid items. A big plus with them is that they have brights -- it's miserable easy to get caught in the black/brown/navy/beige rotation at the office, and mixing in some colors that both flatter you and look current helps everything look better.

I also shop at Macy's. They have a number of separate stores-within-stores that offer a variety of looks, and when stuff goes on sale there, it goes on crazy sale. Drastic discounts. I often buy Calvin Klein dresses there for the office - they're classic but updated.
posted by Miko at 6:09 PM on November 9, 2013

I love Femme de Carriere (Sandra Angelozzi). She is stylish and fun.

For creativity, I just wake up that morning and say: how do I feel, and how can I express that in clothes.

Or pick an accent item and then build an outfit around it. When in season, I take flowers from my garden on my way to the car and put them behind my ear. Long necklaces that trip to my navel.

Or play fashion challenge. Dress all in shades of one color only (eg. blue). Pick a character you like and subtly try to emulate. Dress uber boring, and then add one piece of flair. Add makeup.

Class it up with nylons; funk it up with patterned nylons.

And always have good shoes on. Outfits are made or destroyed by improper shoe choice.

Finally, when in doubt, wear a skirt with a cute pair of boots. Skirts automatically make it look like you put some effort into your style when all you did was shave your legs.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:07 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wear a lot of stuff from Smoking Lily. I teach at a community college, so I have a ton of leeway in terms of what's work-appropriate, but I still feel like a professional in their clothes. Their stuff can be pricey because it's well made and the materials are high quality, but they do have good sales on occasion.

(I just took stock and realized so much of my wardrobe is from Smoking Lily that someone who knew me IRL would probably be able to identify me from this comment alone.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:31 PM on November 9, 2013

in addition to the other good suggestions here, try Loehmanns. It's like a TJ Maxx, but it can also have more high end stuff that may be more professional . They have an online store as well as brick-and-mortar ones. The selection varies a lot between stores, so sometimes online is better. It's convenient to be able to return online items in the store.
posted by bluefly at 7:19 AM on November 10, 2013

All of the above but I love to add a little pop of fun with things from Forever 21.
posted by kinetic at 4:13 PM on November 10, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you what great suggestions!
posted by ladoo at 3:16 AM on November 15, 2013

« Older Give me your best tips for big family Thanksgiving...   |   A very Canadian question. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.