Written by Olivia Determan, VIM Account Executive. 

One of the hardest parts of transitioning from college student to full-blown PR professional is making the leap from your usual athleisure staples to the business casual world. Giving up your Monday essentials of leggings and a sweatshirt and moving toward real pants and blouses can take some getting used to, and it can also take a toll on your wallet. Why does it feel like finding the perfect professional outfit is impossible without costing yourself an arm and a leg? The answer: you aren’t being strategic enough.
We are strategic communicators, researchers, planners and thinkers, so why not be strategic shoppers? We have scoured online clothing sites to find reasonable prices for quality clothing and found that if you shop strategically, it is possible to find great clothes at a great price.

Old Navy Steals
Old Navy offers a selection of inexpensive business appropriate pieces if you know what to search for. Simply focus on the items that are marked “Everyday Steal.” There you’ll find some of the best deals on the site without even having to venture to the sale or clearance tab.

Of course, you can find savings on the clearance or sale rack, but they rarely offer a wide variety of sizes. Searching for those “Everyday Steals” is the perfect way to find business staples you need (like those trousers for $25), without breaking the bank.

H&M Staples
If you’re looking for business essentials on a budget, start your search at H&M. Their blazers, staples in any professional wardrobe, are reasonably priced and higher quality than ones you may find at Forever 21. Not only do they have classic cuts, they also offer a wide variety of stylized blazers that can give your outfit a nontraditional pop.
H&M also offers an array of blouses and other basic staples, and the store is a one-stop shop for men’s clothing. Full-piece suits, blazers and button downs are available online and in-store. The highest priced men’s button down is $39.99, but there are plenty of other options available at lower prices.

Loft Sales
Last, but by no means least, Loft has a surprising number of sales that make them a contender for “bougie on a budget.” The greatest thing about Loft is that when they have a sale, they have a sale. If it is 60 percent off the entire store, you will likely find a shirt on the sale rack for 10 dollars or less.

Moral of the story: Dig deep, and shop strategically. Go online to Old Navy and find “Everyday Steals,” to H&M for menswear and women’s staples, or to Loft for amazing discounts. If you can’t find a deal online, wait for a sale in store. Looking your best doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Your bank and your future boss will thank you.

Olivia Determan is a senior pursuing a degree in public relations. She hopes to find a job doing in-house PR for a young adult book publishing company. She enjoys reading, writing and listening to Hamilton the musical.

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