Looking Good, Feeling Great - Work essentials?

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02-16-2013, 10:47 AM
Hi guys,

I figured this would be a good place to look for advice...I moved to Japan a year ago, and knowing that I was a rather unfortunately-shaped nearly 200 lb 5'6'' girl who'd have trouble finding clothes, I bought a bunch of dowdy suits to wear to work just to cover myself up. Well...they don't fit even remotely any more. The size 12 jackets that I brought with me make me look like a little kid playing dress up, and I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm going to have to re-do my work wardrobe when I get back to the US in a little over a month.

Unfortunately I won't have a lot of cash on hand (need to buy a car, setup a phone, and find an apartment when I get back), so while I'll be browsing clearance racks and Goodwill, I was hoping that you lovely ladies might have some tips for go-to items to build a wardrobe in as few pieces as possible. I've been applying mainly to administrative and marketing jobs, so the vibe is business/business-casual.

If you have a similar shape and have hints, that would be even more super helpful, so my current stats:
C:35''/W:25''/H:34.5'', 5'6'' and somewhere in the high 140s/low 150s for weight (sorry, no scale ATM). I'm apple-ish shaped, carrying most of my weight in the stomach and upper thighs, and I'm broadest in the shoulders thanks to years of competitive swimming. I'll try to remember to update with a picture in the morning...

In any case, please and thank you for any suggestions you might be able to provide. I tend to either dress like a high school kid or like I'm 40, so style tips would be WONDERFUL.

Thankyouthankyouthankyou in advance.

02-16-2013, 11:07 AM
If the place where you'll be living in the US is anywhere near a Tanger Outlet Center, (or any outlet center I guess), I'd recommend doing some shopping there. I LOVE Gap and Banana Republic, but there's no way I have that kind of money to shell out for clothes! Especially if you need work attire, BR outlets often have 50% off sales-if you have one around I'd do some shopping there:)

02-16-2013, 11:11 AM
I'll have to see if the outlets near me have Banana Republic...there's two outlet malls within about half an hour of my house, so I'll need to check it out. Thanks!

02-16-2013, 02:01 PM
Maybe you can get your current jackets taken in? It may not work if they're way too big, but it can't hurt to take them to the dry cleaners and ask.

As far as the new wardrobe, if you're willing to put in some time, it can be done for cheap. I'd suggest black pants, gray pants, and maybe a pair of brown or khaki pants. Have your color come from your tops. If you can wear those jackets, colorful camis are cheaper than shirts. Clearance racks and consignment stores have been my friends along the way - I'm on my third new wardrobe.

If you think you can wear trouser jeans to work, Old Navy's are around $35 regular price, but they go on sale a lot. Wash them about 6 times before you wear them, unless you like having blue legs. :-P

Try Kohls and JC Penney if you have them - I find their cheap basics (tees, cardigans, etc) are better quality than Old Navy, and about the same price.

Good luck!

02-16-2013, 02:55 PM
I'm a big fan of black basics. Slacks, pencil skirts, blazers. Add color through tops and accessories.

Also browse Pinterest for "business casual"

02-18-2013, 06:41 PM
I agree with Mozzy, but I'd also suggest hitting sale racks at Loft when you get back. I honestly got 9 pieces of clothes (3 pants, 2 LS tees, 2 shirts and 2 sweaters) for under $100 this weekend!! Outlet malls are great, but don't forget clearance!

02-20-2013, 10:40 AM
This blogger has sone great ideas for building a new wardrobe from scratch.


Concentrate on a capsule wardrobe.... Things that can all be interchangeable.

I am building a new wardrobe and have found that I am becoming very specific and picky when it comes to fit. Goodwill is good if the quality can be found. Loft clearance is great!

Go slow and good luck!

02-22-2013, 08:23 AM
I've never been to a Loft...I'll have to look it up and see where the closest one is. Luckily I live in CT, and relatively close to the shore...that means a lot of wealthier people that like to buy clothes, wear them once, and dump them in Goodwill. I've gotten name brand things with tags still on them, but unfortunately it always seemed like the really nice things were always in 4s and 6s...maybe I'll have better luck now that online measurement charts seem to be indicating that's about what I would fit into. Thanks for all of the suggestions and the link!

Mountain Mamma
03-06-2013, 12:45 PM
Try Kohls and JC Penney if you have them - I find their cheap basics (tees, cardigans, etc) are better quality than Old Navy, and about the same price.

If there's a Kohl's in your area, and you don't already have a card, apply for one. They will send out % off offers (15 to 30%) that can be used for ANYTHING - sale, clearance as well as regular priced stuff (nothing is ever the inflated "regular" price, but that's another story.) They let you combine offers, too. You can also ask at the cash register if they have any coupons they can let you use. Sometimes I get a funny look, other times I've had cashiers bend over backwards to find a good one for me.

IF (big IF) they have what you need, you can often get it at a great price. And their return policy is good.

03-08-2013, 05:28 PM
I love Target. They always have stuff on sale and you can get some good stuff there. Get a pair of slacks that fit. Key word there, FIT! Wrap style shirts and dresses are good.

Mainly, get a few staples that you feel great about wearing. You can add pieces together later when you have more cash.

Anyway, when I first started my job I got a couple pairs of slacks, a couple dresses, some sweaters, camis, a pair of flats and a pair of boots. You can mix and match until you stock up on your wardrobe.

03-15-2013, 12:22 AM
I agree with the Tanger Outlets. They always have great sales. Coupons too.