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Work Clothes Worth the Splurge — and When to Save Your Money

Catherine Hageman shares her best advice for when to splurge without guilt, and when to save your hard-earned cash.

One of the best parts about adult-life (for me, anyway) is being able to shop whenever I want. One of the worst is budgeting those shopping trips so that I can afford essentials, like food and mortgage payments. Oh, the reality of being a grown-up.

I don't feel bad handing over money for investment pieces. Too many times I have bought cheap items, only to have them fall apart a year later. If I'm going to spend the majority of my day wearing something, I want to enjoy it, be comfortable, and then don it many times over.

Don't feel guilty about splurging on:

  • A white blouse — Pick something that flatters your body, and doesn't require ironing.
  • Blazers — I'm willing to spend more on toppers with pretty linings and cute buttons. J. Crew's wool schoolboy blazer is one of my favorite pieces.
  • Trousers — Work-pants are generally worth investing more in, especially if you wear them most days. Trousers in thicker or better quality fabrics will wash up nicely and look more professional.
  • Pencil skirts — My go-to piece when I don't know what to wear. I love how many colors pencil skirts come in, and I try to buy them from the more costly stores whenever they go on sale.

    But try to buy on the cheap:

    • Anything trendy — I'm not sure how I feel about high-low skirts. I didn't like mullet dresses when celebs wore them on the red carpet, and I'm hoping this fad doesn't last long.
    • Colors I'm iffy about — Trying neon for the first time? Find a bright sweater at Old Navy and see if you like the hue before purchasing something more high-end.
    • Non-work clothes — I can't wear jeans to the office, so I usually stick to Target for my denim needs (and they actually have great options).
      J. Crew Aubrey Jacket, $178; Banana Republic Martin Fit Charcoal Lightweight Wool Trouser, $98; Forever 21 High-Low Woven Skirt, $23; Gap Crewneck Pullover Sweater, $40.

      Catherine Hageman dispatches fashionista tendencies fit for a corporate career on Small Town, Big Wardrobe.

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