It’s a weird time to be a professional person right now. Very few workplaces still adhere to the "office professional" attire of business suits and formal blouses. Add an ongoing pandemic that leaves many of us in some kind of ever-shifting WFH/hybrid set-up, and figuring out what to wear to work has only gotten more confusing. Finding clothes that are polished, fashionable, comfortable, and work-appropriate plagues many of us, even if we'd never go back to the panty-hose-and-heels days.
Looking for some inspiration, we asked over 40 professionals to dish on their favourite affordable fashion finds. The word “affordable” here is subjective, of course — we’ve got a whole gamut of participants with different style needs, from a CEO of a tech company to an on-set costumer for TV and film. To that end, the picks you’ll see vary tremendously, from budget-friendly gems to investment pieces that still offer great value for your dollar — and will last for years. And while the hands-down fave retailers are H&M, Uniqlo, Etsy, and Amazon, many of those we spoke to also cited resale sites like Poshmark, The RealReal, The Outnet, thredUP, and Depop as crucial shopping destinations for sourcing designer items for cheap. And, surprisingly (although, maybe not?), many of these fashion finds were discovered via Instagram ads.
In terms of the actual fashion pieces, the majority of the picks (which are a healthy mix of both neutral and statement) were chosen for their “business casual” versatility. Think: button-ups that can be dressed up or down, oversized blazers that can be thrown on for Zoom calls, plain tees and tanks that are perfect as base layers, and cute jumpsuits that take the guesswork out of getting dressed. However, we think the best affordable professional clothes would have to be the fashion styles that are so unicorn-perfect in price, quality, fit, and level of appropriate-ness that they’re copped in every single colour. And, don’t you worry, you’ll see several of those picks up ahead, too.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.