6 ways to dress cheaper as prices rise and workers return to the office

Twice a year, Lorri Talberg buys 25 pieces of clothing to update her work wardrobe for her job in corporate communications at Ameriprise Financial.

Even as gas and grocery prices rise, she recently bought these 25 pieces for around $250. She shops at thrift stores and consignment stores, and even uses a free personal shopper at Arc’s Value Village to streamline the process so she doesn’t have to rummage through clothes racks.

“I love being in current fashion and it allows me to do that and be enduring,” Talberg said.

After two years of designated yoga pants and shirts for Zoom meetings, dressing for work is back as more and more workers are called into offices.

We asked a pair of Twin Cities shopping experts — Mall of America trend expert Sara Rogers and Arc’s Value Village personal shopper Sarah Colvin — for tips on rebuilding your work wardrobe at a time. where inflation hits household budgets hard. Here is what they said:

Shop your wardrobe

Many of us have a closet of clothes that have barely been worn since the pandemic began. Take inventory of what you have. Make sure clothes are snug, clean, ironed, and free of tears or fraying. Polish shoes. Think about the different chords you can create.

But don’t feel like you have to clean out your closet even if you’ve gained weight or watched “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” and taken her motto “Keep only what sparks joy” to heart.

“There are all kinds of closet cleaning rules like, ‘If you haven’t worn it in a year, donate it,'” Colvin said. “But it’s not a regular time. A lot of us haven’t seen the people, so I wouldn’t get rid of things too soon.”

Meet new bosses and colleagues in person before major purchases

Learn, or relearn, the office culture before you spend a lot of money shopping.

“There are a lot of people who have changed jobs during the pandemic and now they’re meeting co-workers in person,” Colvin said. “See what your colleagues are wearing in a new workplace before buying a new wardrobe.”

Additionally, many companies may allow jeans and other casual attire to keep employees happy when they return to the office. The exception may be sectors such as law, finance or banking, where formal dress is traditionally the rule.

Talberg, 57, who visits his Minneapolis office several times a week, notices less paperwork downtown these days. “You see a lot more casual and a range of casual,” Talberg said. Once she spotted someone wearing slippers instead of shoes.

While the dress code is casual, Rogers cautions against dressing for the weekend.

She advises only one item that would be considered casual to ensure that you won’t be left out or embarrassed in a surprise meeting with clients or superiors. This may mean a suit without a tie for men or, for women, trousers and a good blouse.

And check your bosses. “When in doubt, I always dress up,” Rogers said. “I am inspired by leadership.”

Go for color or a new pair of shoes

If you’re short on time, you can keep shopping simple by updating your wardrobe with five tops in assorted colors or just a new pair of shoes.

“I talk to my friends who were doing Zoom calls and going back to the office,” Rogers said. “Stores are ready for them with color. It’s the easiest way to update your wardrobe.”

For men, this may mean varying the colors of dress shirts.

Women have more options. Try accessorizing with color. Pair color, especially the greens and pinks of this spring, with neutrals in your wardrobe. Get dresses in any color that celebrate your spirit and make you feel good, Rogers said. “You can have a dress in any color you want because you can pair it with a neutral shoe,” she said.

Buy coins that you can view in multiple ways

When shopping, Colvin suggests thinking of six to seven ways to pair a garment with the other clothes in your existing wardrobe.

“Don’t buy pieces that you can only wear one way,” she said. Keep in mind that you can wear pants more than once a week with different tops and accessories without it being obvious.

Follow your best looks

What Colvin has learned from clients who post their outfits on Instagram daily is the benefit of documenting what you wear.

Even if it’s only on your own camera roll, these photos of your best looks will give you ideas for when you feel like you have nothing to wear and need to dress quickly to go out.

“I have a photo file on my phone that I’m going to look at and I’m going to think, ‘I love this. I can wear it,’” Colvin said.

Beware of trends

To invest in your long-term work wardrobe, don’t buy a lot of trendy items that might go out of fashion next year. While there may be plenty of fitted or revealing looks on the shelves, they probably won’t suit most desks anyway.

“There are a lot of crop tops, which won’t work for girls going back to the office,” Rogers said. “Unless they’re in retail.”

About Carl Schroeder

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