The Way to Work

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The Way to Keep Working: Dressing for the Recesssion

May 14, 2009
by Rachel Balik
Whether you’re still working or looking for a job, you’ve got to keep wearing work-appropriate clothing. But should your style change to reflect the economic climate? Are there any ways to save money and still look polished? We've got the answers here.

For a while, it seemed as if dressing down was the answer to recession-based anxiety. As soon as it became apparent last summer that the economy was taking a turn for the worse, standard dress codes went out the window at many offices. With budgets tightening, no one wanted to look like they were spending money on clothing, and some even argued that wearing wrinkled pants and casual shirts make it seem like an employee was working harder. Either way, overpriced fancy dress shirts are a thing of the past.

But that doesn’t mean that suits are a thing of the past, a Forbes magazine article says. In fact, suits can help women maintain a composed, professional demeanor while allowing them to avoid shelling out excessive money for designer clothing. The article explains the today’s suits channel the “back to basics” mentality and restores some of the professionalism that’s been lost as the recession drags on..

W magazine, arbiter of high fashion, acknowledged the recession in December 2008 with a glamorous slide show featuring New York City hipsters looking glamorous in clothing reminiscent of Depression-era styles. Although these trendy downtown folk are probably still shelling out a pretty penny for these items, the look they’re channeling does reflect the climate of the times. Nobody wants to look sloppy, but no one wants to seem oblivious to what’s going on, either.

But you might be able to purchase clothing that normally would be out of your price range, because many high-end stores are offering steep sales to woo buyers. Even if you’re struggling in a lean job market, you should still be “dressing for the job you want.” Now is a great time to buy marked-down expensive basics that will last for years.
Naturally, you can also try shopping at discount stores or stores that usually sell designer brands at discount prices. For example, T.J. Maxx has stores in several states and some Canadian provinces. Head to Target, H & M or Old Navy for trendier pieces that can spice up all those expensive, timeless items you bought. Buy an of-the-moment accessory, or stock up on t-shirts and basic pants that can serve as wardrobe staples. You can even wear them with one of those designer suits you bought.

You can also find discounts online, if you know where, and when, to look. Sites like,, and even eBay or Amazon can help you out in a pinch.

Even if you’re spending less, you don’t want to show up to work in jeans and a t-shirt. Learn the rules about what’s work-appropriate by reading “The Way to Work: The Dress Code.”

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