Clothes for Work

Updated on January 23, 2012
A.S. asks from Plainfield, IL
12 answers

Hi Ladies,
I need some new clothes for work. I am in my 40s and work for a non-profit organization. It is an office setting and there are times when we meet with families. I do not have to wear a skirt or even a jacket of any kind if I'm wearing pants. But we do have a dress code. I can't wear tops that are real low cut. I can't wear low rise pants with a cropped top as we can't have any skin showing in the stomach area. Where do you shop for work clothes? I have been looking but am having a hard time finding things that fit within the dress code but don't look like a 60+ year old should be wearing them. Also, since it is a non-profit organization, we haven't had raises in years and, I don't make tons of money so clothes that aren't super expensive would be nice too. Thanks for your input :)

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the responses so far. I definitely have some new places to try. I guess I forgot to mention in my original post that I can't wear jeans to work either. I do agree that Old Navy has some cute ones though & I do enjoy wearing those on the weekends. For the person who wondered if I am trying to look young, no, I'm definitely not. That is part of the problem actually. I agree that showing your stomach at work is not professional. After childbirth & aging, I actually don't want to show it at work or anywhere else! Many of the clothes I find though are cropped or shorter tops & low rise pants. Three of our four management staff are 50+ years old so they are big believers in dressing professional/appropriate for work. There are many places I go where I see employees dressed in things that don't even come close to meeting the dress code at our office so it is evident that not everyone agrees on what is work-appropriate. That probably explains why many things in stores can't be worn at my workplace. And for the lady in her 60s who dresses the same as her daughter in her 30s, good for you if you can pull that off. I hope I'm so lucky at that age. My Mom is in her 60s and I don't know if there are any of her clothes that I would want to wear. Maybe she dresses old :)

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answers from Chicago on

I would try Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft or the Limited. Editing this to add Marshall's and Nordstrom Rack.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I buy clothes at Walmart and Cato's. I find the prices to be reasonable and their clothes do last a long time. You don't have to shop at Penney's or other higher priced places.

I spend very little on clothes. I still look nice when I work. The thing I have used to make my wardrobe easier is to get pieces that coordinate with lots of other items.

Blacks are different, each one seems to be a different color that the other blacks. Some are faded looking, some are shinier (polyester), and some are matte finish. The trick is putting them with tops that have similar textures.

I have 1 pair of black polyester, not stretchy, pants that look good all the time. If I wash them with only blacks they always turn out fine. If I wash them with anything that has a lighter color I can be guaranteed they will look washed out and have a light coating of fuzz on them, even if it's just from the pock of a pair of pants. I wear these pants with all my tops that have the shinier, drop dead black in them. Geometric prints, animal prints, any top that has a solid black spot on it. Bright clear colors look good with these pants too.

I have several pairs of knit pants that are comfortable and not too old lady looking. I wear knit tops with them. The knit fades more quickly but looks okay with tops that have the same texture. I can wear any of the stretchy tops, with smocking across the chest, a v-neck, any top that is not the super dark black looks good.

Sometimes it is taking the whole wardrobe out, opening all the window shades and curtains to get the room full of sunshine, etc...then take all the garments and lay them out as sets, take notes, decide what you like and don't like. Get rid of the stuff you will NEVER EVER wear again then make a list:


Geometric print top that coordinates with dark brown slacks
Animal print top to coordinate with medium brown cargo pants
Dark brown or earth tone tops to go with Khaki pants


Need a denim skirt that looks professional.
Flat front slacks that are matte finish
Flat front slacks in navy and Khaki

This will help you to fill in the gaps and not over spend too.



answers from Detroit on

I like the work clothes at Target (Merona line). They are modest, classic, and pretty well made. They do shrink easier than other clothes, so I dry them for 20 minutes to get the wrinkles out, then hang dry.

Banana Republic is also nice for classic work stuff, but a little more pricey.



answers from Las Vegas on

dark washed jeans can look nice with a pretty blouse and blazer.. including flats.. Old Navy has some good bargains... check them out.. also, Norstrom's Rack and Marshalls..

However, like you, I am on a budget and while in the past I have LOVED jeans by Joe's.. (expensive) I now purchase them from Old Navy.. they have many styles from which to choose.. you can even keep it simple.. pair up some jeans with a cute t-shirt.. add a cute necklace and or cute wrap sweater (those seem to be in fashion at the moment) and there you have it.. CUTENESS!

good luck


answers from New York on

Consignment shop or goodwill. Lots of good quality clothes, inexpensive, and fashionable.



answers from Chicago on

JC Penney has a large selection of clothes...they have the JR section, the misses, misses pettite, wowan and the bit larger sizes. I would def try there.They have good sales and clearance stuff every so often.



answers from Detroit on

J. Jill is my favorite clothing store and you can find nice things there, especially on sale.



answers from Denver on

The limited has some good basic work stuff - watch for sales and promotions. I agree Target's work line is good too. Also a HUGE fan of Marshall's and TJ max.


answers from Chicago on

Wow...lots of reposnses for second hand stores. You can find things there that are good, but you have to look. I don't have the engery for that. And you want to look professional, not like somehting has been worn out.

Age appropriate for 30s-40s...
Ann Taylor
J Crew
J Jill
Banana Republic
The Limited
White House Black Market

I shop at all of these regularly, and I'm in PR. A standard business dress code sounds like what you're working with (no suits required, no jeans).

You need a few pairs of black pants, a few of taupe colored. You can easily find mid-high rise at any of these stores. Cardigans can be interchanged, and there are your staple sweater shapes in every color at these stores. Buy a couple of basic key pieces that you can interchange, and you don't need to spend a lot.

J Crew has a sale going on right now with 40% off their SALE items.
Check out their website. There are some pretty good deals.



answers from Washington DC on

Salvation Army/ Goodwill then I get them tailored to fit which is a lot cheaper than buying the name brands new. If you buy cheap clothes they tend to wear out sooner. Try craigslist too. If you buy 5 pair of solid color pants (black/ brown) you can buy various tops without spending a fortune. You can also buy 2 or more jackets to rotate which changes the look of the outfit.



answers from Chicago on

I used to work for a non-profit organization and we had a dress code that was similar...I am 28, so yes, I am younger, but I was very self conscious about my body and didn't like showing off skin & I HATE low rise pants (after childbirth I don't find them comfortable at all) - with that said, I always found really nice work (and weekend) clothes at New York & Company...if you go on-line you can sign up for their e-mails and I get some weekly about the sales they are having and sometimes they include coupons, I also get coupons in the mail because I signed up for it (so you can get like $25 off a purchase of either $50 or $75 {I don't remember which it is}). They have a good clearance section too! My mom would always shop there with me and she is in her 50s...I feel like they have styles that fit many age ranges - from like 20s to 60s! Their pants fit really well too...and what I loved about their pants was that they had them in either short, regular or tall and I NEED the short length pants...and they would fit so well I wouldn't need to get them hemmed - all my work pants were from there!
Kohl's also has some great styles and if you shop when you have a coupon of at least 20% (sometimes you can get one for 30%) then you save even more money off of their sale prices...I always find really nice sweaters there, and now that I'm not working any more I still shop at Kohl's because they are so inexpensive and I can find casual clothes and slightly dressier for the weekends, but I constantly see things I would love to wear if I was working...
Banana Republic is nice too, but they can be pricey - if you live near one of the outlet malls, you can try there - the one in Huntley has great clothes!



answers from Portland on

Nearly all of my clothes come from Goodwill. They have clothes appropriate for all ages. You do have to shop often to find the really good clothes. I wonder what style you consider appropriate for your age and what looks like it's for 60 year olds. I'm in my sixties and wear clothes similar to those worn by my 30 yo daughter. Professional is professional at any age.

One good jacket will help every outfit look professional. Pair that with dress slacks and a blouse or sweater. It really seems simple to me. I wonder if you're wanting to look young. At 40 you shouldn't be wearing low rise pants with a crop top anyway. Showing too much skin, i.e. crop top and low cut tops, is not appropriate in a professional setting at any age.

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