Posted on 01/10/2022


When it comes to landing the job you want,  a big part of it means dressing the part. One easy way to do this without breaking the bank is to choose professional thrift store clothes and accessories instead of buying brand-new stuff (either all at once or piecemeal).

If you’re looking to up your clothing game, there’s no excuse not to get the closet you’ve always wanted when you veer away from the mall and toward a quality consignment shop. At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, we’ve outfitted plenty of women who were ready to climb their way to the top.

The Staples of Your Life

We’ll start with a few staples that should be in everyone’s closet. Starting with a good base can make all the difference when you’re scrambling for what to wear.

Woman wearing business suit with a blazer and pants

Neutral Slacks

Dress pants in black, white, grey, etc. are incredibly versatile pieces that can go in any number of directions. Having three or four pairs at your disposal can make it easier to mix and match with the rest of your closet.

Portrait of beautiful confident smiling african-american businesswoman standing with arms crossed in the office and looking at camera.

Formal Blazers

While Silicon Valley may have made hoodies popular, Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona insists that you have at least a couple of formal pieces at the ready. Blazers can be worn with dresses, skirts, or pants. They can quickly spruce up basic t-shirts, casual dresses, button-downs, etc.

Shot of a young businesswoman using a smartphone against a city background

Skirts

Midi- and maxi-skirts can bring a little more femininity to your wardrobe without stepping on professional boundaries. You can opt for florals, prints, or solid colors, as long as you have a few tops that you can pair with them.

Shot of a young businesswoman shaking hands with a colleague in a modern office

Button-Downs

A few button-down, collared shirts can add a little flair to otherwise straightforward pants and skirts. If you have mostly neutral bottom pieces (e.g., black skirts, etc.), you can really stretch your color allowance out here with bright reds, blues, and oranges.

Portrait of young smiling woman looking at camera with crossed arms.

Shirts

You can be somewhat creative with your blouses and shirts. A plain white shirt can be a professional choice when you pair it with slacks, a skirt, or a blazer. A swirly pink blouse can look great with a black skirt and knee-high boots.

Thrift Store Shopping for Outfits

We’ll look at a few ways that you can combine different pieces to get the look you want for every month of the year.

Outfit Ideas for Dresses

A solid-color sleeveless dress can be paired with a cardigan and heels during the summer, or it can be worn with tights, ankle boots, and a blazer over the winter. The great thing about these seemingly simple garments is that they can easily be converted for the seasons or occasions.

You can also buy brightly colored dresses for spring and then pair them with heeled sandals or nude heels. The idea here is to align your professional wardrobe with the weather and give your look a little more context. If you’re uncomfortable with wearing a dress that might be considered ‘loud’, consider how a black, navy blue, or grey blazer will turn down the volume a little.

As you examine different kinds of dresses at a thrift store, remember that there are plenty of ways to customize your look. Roll up the sleeves, try it on with a belt, play around with a front zipper: there are plenty of ways to heighten outfits while still keeping it professional.

Outfit Ideas for Skirts

At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, you can find a number of skirts with interesting patterns and designs. The great part about shopping here is that these pieces are in-style, but they also won’t look like what everyone else is wearing.

While you can certainly get away with matching different patterns, busy skirts are sometimes most impactful if you pair them with neutral colors. For instance, a blue and purple striped maxi-skirt will really stand out if you wear it with a white turtleneck, black scarf, and low heels.

If you’re wearing a fun midi-skirt, look for a pair of thigh-high boots to go with it. This addition to your outfit can bring more dimension to it, and make for a more polished appearance.

Outfit Ideas for Pants

In addition to standard slacks, patterned pants or those with intricate details (e.g., big zippers, etc.) can be a part of your professional wardrobe. You can even consider buying fitted jeans as they’ll look great with silk shirts or blazers.

If they’re allowed to be worn at your workplace, jeans can provide a great contrast to your look and help you feel more professional even in a somewhat casual setting. It’s also interesting to see them reinvented for the workplace, which can add more panache to your conversations.

Accessories and You

Accessories are your friend if you’re looking for women’s business attire as they can revamp a basic wardrobe into something extraordinary. In general, at Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, we recommend diversifying based on the outfit of the day.

For instance, a big, bright outfit may need little more than a pair of studs and a silver bracelet to tie it together. A simple outfit of black slacks and a solid-colored shirt might be better off with a bold scarf and chunky jewelry to dress it up.

Inexpensive necklaces and bracelets can be layered to bring more life to an outfit. Hats and footwear in various colors can throw in plenty of oomph too.

The Benefits of Buying Professional Attire at a Thrift Store

Thrift stores offer untold benefits for the professional:

  • Quality: Fast fashion stores may be inexpensive, but the clothes also don’t hold up over time. Instead of watching clothes unravel after just a few cycles through the washer, you can purchase outfits from a thrift store that won’t fall apart while still paying a fraction of the price.
  • Selection: There are so many sections of a thrift store that can lend themselves to your professional wardrobe. It’s not just slacks and dresses that matter here. The scarves, bags, and shoes can pull it all together so you get the look you want.
  • Value: Interns and entry-level positions often don’t pay enough for new clothes. Save more of your paycheck for the things you want rather than blowing it at the cash register. Even well-established people can opt for thrift store clothes so they can keep more money for their real priorities.
  • Adaptable: Remember that clothes can always be hemmed, taken in, or let out, depending on your body type. Even with this added expense, it can still be a lot cheaper than purchasing brand-name pieces.

A Whole New Wardrobe

At Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona, we’ve seen people reinvent their professional look at an affordable price. Whether you’re coming in because you need a change or because you’ve started a new job, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs. We recommend dressing for the job you want, which may mean stepping up the quality and colors that you debut day-in and day-out. Just know that there’s no reason to step outside your budget to do so.