Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Shopping for a work wardrobe that’s affordable without looking cheap can feel like a job in itself. Sure, you’re supposed to “dress for the job you want,” but you still need to spend with the budget you have. And while there are more stylish wallet-friendly brands than seemingly ever before, so many of the offerings still veer toward ultra-trendy and not office-appropriate (vinyl mini skirts and millennial pink blazers don’t usually pass muster with most dress codes).
So what’s a professional gal who can’t afford Prada to do? If you’re looking for chic workwear that won’t eat up your entire paycheck, here are 14 places to check out ASAP.
Aritzia: The Vancouver-born retailer carries an impressive roster of exclusive house brands, offering everything from silky blouses to tailored trousers that look anything but cookie-cutter. The vibe is elevated and minimalist — without looking like a snooze fest — and a healthy selection hits the under-$150 mark. Keep your eyes peeled for the frequent sales, too.
Modern Citizen: A boutique site for the minimalist on a budget, Modern Citizen carries a mostly-under-$120 collection of elevated staples like cropped trench jackets and wrap pencil skirts. The jewelry selection is clean, unfussy, and perfectly understated. If you dream in neutrals, this is pretty much the mothership.
Loft: Long known for being the working woman’s go-to, Loft’s selection these days is surprisingly fun— it’s full of color, prints, and playful details. You can absolutely outfit yourself for the office here while still maintaining some personality, and, as per usual, almost everything is under $100 (the dream!).
Ann Taylor: As Loft’s more sophisticated older sister, the majority of this retail fixture’s roster is under $200 — and that includes its dedicated suiting section. Even if your gig doesn’t require formal tailored fare, you can opt for anything from draped midi skirts to ruffled sweaters to velvet block-heel pumps. The entire selection is undeniably workplace-worthy.
Banana Republic: With at least six individual tailored pant fits and a shoe called the Madison 12 Hour Pump, Banana Republic is clearly no stranger to the workwear game. It’s upped the ante most recently with the addition of an Olivia Palermo collab and the Life in Motion collection, which features everything from blazers to cashmere pullovers in washable (yes, washable) stretch fabrics.
Finery London: Three-year-old British brand Finery London is a go-to if you’re in the market for modern, vibrant pieces under $250. The line is full of artsy prints, bold color mixes, and slightly offbeat tailoring, and the shoe selection is particularly noteworthy, with textures and details that look way more expensive than they are.
Mango: The Spanish retail giant is stocked with a ton of chic, super affordable (under-$200) picks, including things like slick trenches, suiting, and sculptural jewelry; plus, there’s even an “office wear” tab to help you shop strategically for work. The selection is refined and fun at the same time, with plenty of after-hours options as well.
H&M: Never underestimate the fast-fashion OG’s ability to outfit you for any occasion, including the daily grind. In fact, H&M is kind of a goldmine when it comes to the sophisticated girlboss-on-a-budget thing. It’s got everything from tailored tops (that go way beyond the button-down) to cashmere knits to glen plaid coats. Browse the entire selection online, honing in on 9-to-5 offerings through the “modern classics” tab.
The Frankie Shop: Touting itself as a destination for “affordable luxe-looking basics,” this indie store-turned-online shop is stocked with emerging brands as well as cool-girl favorites like Rachel Comey and Ganni. Curated by Gaelle Drevet, formerly of Pixie Market, this spot offers a sizable selection of under-$200 options like button-down blouses and wide-leg trousers.
Zara: It may be best known for its trendy runway interpretations on the cheap, but there’s an equally sizable assortment of work-worthy pieces at Zara. Currently, the retailer is doubling down on the suiting trend, with an impressive variety of checks and plaids in every iteration — plus, of course, tons of trousers and blazers, should you prefer to shop separates.
Bloomingdale’s: If you’re the type who likes to shop it all under one roof, Bloomingdale’s carries a solid array of accessible labels that keep it professional. Currently under Featured Shops is the “work shop” where, among the higher-end offerings, you’ll find under-$150 options from brands like The Fifth Label, Dylan Gray, T Tahari, and the house brand, Aqua.
Everlane: A pioneer of the direct-to-consumer model, Everlane is daytime dressing made easy. The vibe is clean and simple, and staples like layering tees, sweaters, shirtdresses, and skirts all go for under $100. The shoes are pretty timeless, too, with pumps, flats, ankle boots, and slides coming in a wide variety of colors for under $200.
Topshop: You’ll find a slightly edgier selection than most under Topshop’s “workwear and suits” tab, but if your job’s dress code is a little more lenient, there’s certainly a well-sized offering that includes blazers, midi dresses, and solid black pants. The high-street hotspot also stocks plenty of clean, structured bags, plus shoes and boots that are perfect for daytime dressing.
Karl Lagerfeld Paris: For that designer look on a diffusion budget, Karl Lagerfeld’s department store line is a must-shop. Seemingly sick of being knocked off by, well, everyone, the legend launched his namesake label for less with all of the bows and boucle you could hope for. From cropped jackets to shift dresses, you can easily score that iconic vibe for under $150.