Monday, June 30, 2014


Ask a Fancy Person: Consignment Shops, Gendered Pronouns and Leaving the Forever 21 Zone

JOANDear Fancy,

I recently began working in my first Big Girl job since graduating from college three years ago, and I'm expected to wear really nice things. Add to that my boss's casual age-ism related to wardrobe ("stop wearing that, you look like you're in college"), and I feel self-conscious about the wardrobe Broke Self was able to keep up. But the problem is that I'm not actually paid enough to start a whole new wardrobe from scratch. So my question is this: how do I build a new, work-appropriate wardrobe without breaking the bank? And how do you budget for that kind of thing?

Fancy Rising

My dearest Fancy Rising,

Congrats so much on getting a Big Girl Job! That’s such an exciting move forward into adulthood, even if you aren’t yet making that corner office cash money. In my dream world, we’d all be judged by the content of our quarterly reports rather than the color of our blazers. (But then again, in that dream world, there is no Dear Fancy.) In the meantime, the best way to be valued for your ideas and work rather than superficial bullshit is to follow the rules so that you never have stained pants or sloppy email diction distracting from your awesomeness.

So how to get to there on an entry-level budget, and how much to budget for that stuff?

My first step for you is simple: take stock of what you’ve got. There might be something there you forgot about that is completely serviceable. I, for one, recently found a pair of heels from... well, probably the bar mitzvah circuit, but they’re actually very workable shoes for my office job, and if your feet are like mine, they haven’t grown at all in ten or so years. You also need to know how far you have to go: do you have three suits? Are all your dress shirts in terrible shape? You need less than you think to get the bare minimum covered. Depending on where you live and what line of work you’re in, you might be halfway there already.

The next thing is to consider what look it is you’re going for, and start to build a wardrobe around that. If you’re into fashion, you’ve probably already done this, but if you aren’t, I recommend the Esquire Handbook of Style for men or the Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style for women. It’s a good way to bone up on the language you need to parse item descriptions and narrow down where to shop. About six or seven years back, I decided to stop it with earthtones and tunics and default to primary colors and Mad Men silhouettes. At this point, basically everything goes together, so I don’t wind up with a Blondie/Joni Mitchell outfit mullet if I get dressed in the dark. If you don’t define your style and take stock of what you do and don’t have, you’re going to end up buying a ton of stuff you don’t use, struggling to make professional-looking outfits, and defaulting to things you wore to your work-study in college. Be realistic about what looks good, and stick to that. Consider these two steps, then consider your budget: I lay aside a few hundred dollars a year for clothing purchases and maintenance, and I try to always pay in cash so I don’t get excited and overspend.

A dealership owner I know told me to let someone else drive the first 10,000 miles for you on any new car. Those are the most expensive miles, and the Rolls-Royce devalues the instant it crosses out of the parking lot and onto the street. The same goes for clothes: the second you pull the tag off them, they’re all the same to the Goodwill ladies. Would you rather have a brand new Sorento or an old but recently detailed fancy car, maybe with suicide doors and a Grey Poupon tray?  Stop going to Forever 21 and Old Navy, and start going to the used car lots of style. I promise you can get the quality I love to harp on on a budget you can afford.

Consignment stores are your first stop. Visit them all until you find a few that consistently stock things you like, and visit often since there’s tons of merchandise turnover and scheduled discounting. The pickings are less slim at these, and although they’re pricier than Salvation Army, things are more likely to be on-trend and gently used. Typically, these stores fall into three categories: the good, old-fashioned consignment shop, the upscale or designer consignment shop, and the clothing resale shop. The simple consignment shop can range from a thrift store in a blond wig to an “OMG where did all these Chanel bags come from” joint; a good designer consignment boutique will get you a Milly dress for less than the price of a new one at American Eagle. And check out resale shops like Plato’s Closet that are aimed at teenagers; kids are like, “UGH MOM I WANT TO WEAR A HALTER TOP!” and they donate the J.Crew blazer their folks got them for their internship to buy more navel rings at Claire’s. Another similar source for work clothes is charity sales or estate sales, so keep an eye on the “garage sale” tab on Craigslist or in your newspaper.

Explore the honest-to-God thrift stores, too, but be prepared to have more work cut out for you; I usually drive out to one out in the wealthy suburbs where there are likely to be stay-at-home parents who left their corporate jobs and donated the bulk of that wardrobe. You’ll have to dig, and I’ve found that menswear is usually better at most places like this. The shoe selection tends to be pretty dire, but it never hurts to take a quick glance if it means walking out with $3 Cole Haan loafers. (They typically don’t wash, dry clean, or check items for holes or stains, so be careful when you inspect the wares and know that any smell that it has is a smell it’s going to keep on having.)

A word to the wise: you’re going to be dealing with wildly inconsistent sizing when you shop this way, so don’t just look at the size you usually wear. Something might have been altered to fit its previous owner, or it may be handmade. I check everything from 00-16 and have found stuff at all those sizes that fits (or was altered to fit) and looked great. Also, try to shop off-season for the best deals. You won’t get the instant gratification of wearing it to work on Monday, but you can get a great overcoat or linen jacket if you show up on the right day of the wrong month. Plus, it’s like a present to yourself because you forget about it!

If you want to buy new clothes, sign up for the mailing list of your favorite brands and stores (then sign up for Unroll.me and get a daily roundup instead of a million annoying emails). You’ll find out about their warehouse clearance sale (90% off at Billy Reid, I love you!), the opening of their outlet store, new items on the sale rack, a flash sale, sample sales, and coupon codes. Set up an eBay alert for items you loved at the shop and keep an eye out for them; a $3,000 briefcase becomes a $300 dollar one, even with the tags on, once it leaves the store. Only buy something new and full price if you’re positive you can’t find it later somewhere else or if it’s, um, underwear. Don’t buy used underwear.

Yours in Sartorial Conspiracy,




Dear Fancy,

I have been teaching college lab courses for three years. Each semester, I have roughly 120 students whom I only see a dozen times, if that. Learning names has never been my forte, and so I've relied upon addressing less memorable pupils as "sir" or "ma'am." Lately I've been trying to eliminate my use of gender-biased language in the classroom. While most of this has been an easy transition ("y'all" sounds much better than "you guys") I have had more trouble finding a suitable replacement for the "sir"/"ma'am" system. Should I drop the honorifics altogether? Is there a gender-neutral alternative?

All the best,

Nominally Challenged TA

Dear Nominally Challenged TA,

I know I’m not supposed to play favorites with my question writers, but this is a great question. A common complaint from the "I-do-what-I-want" camp is that manners are sexist and old-fashioned and don’t actually mean anything, and that’s a charge with which I disagree and agree completely. Though some of the norms are indeed as such (I am awesome at door opening, and everyone will still get just as married if I wear a white dress to my cousin’s wedding), they’re also the way we display courtesy and respect regardless of protected class status. Unfortunately, a solid chunk of the ways you express said feelings of courtesy and respect in English are very gendered, which can be a tricky landscape to navigate among people you don’t know well in situations where “what are your pronouns”-style discussions never come up.

The best way to combat the possibly biased aspects of politeness and social cues is to just default to being kind and thoughtful, and doing the best you can. For talking to the group, you could address them using a neutral collective noun like “class” or "students” rather than “ladies and gentlemen.” I also liked the idea of calling them “comrades” but based on the .edu from which your question emanated, I’m going to guess that that might not be the best move for you in terms of job security.

If you call on someone specifically, you can ask them to state their name at the beginning of their question, and then say, “Okay, I’m sure a lot of you were wondering this! Thanks, Christina! Here’s the answer to Christina’s question, class!” which, again, sidesteps your need for “her” or “him” in a situation where you’re talking to and about folks you don’t know. Repeating their names once or twice might help you learn a few, too, which in turn might get you a chili pepper rating on RateMyProfessor.com.

Lastly, there’s the problem of talking to people directly, which is the hardest to combat. What I recommend is the method of direct address. Make it evident you’re talking to someone, and then speak respectfully. Tap him on the shoulder, or walk over to stand nearby to eliminate confusion. If two people respond, you can say, “No, I’m sorry, I was addressing the student in the black shirt. Remind me your name again?” English just doesn’t have an honorific that means “I’m addressing you with respect!” that conveys the same feeling as “sir” or “ma’am,” so until we have one, that’s going to be the best method.

The last piece of advice I have for you on this is to not overthink it. While it’s fantastic that you want to make everyone feel valued and safe, don’t beat yourself up if you slip and call someone “sir.” Your students who don’t care won’t notice, and your students who do care will let you know they’d prefer not to be called “he” or “a lady.” Make a mental note of that, and your class will appreciate it.

Yours in gender equality,




Dear Fancy,

I've reached the age (post-college) where I have to start showing up places looking nice, and as a result I've started buying more and more fancy things to wear to those places. But after spending years waiting tables, napping in university libraries and spending all my downtime getting drunk and/or eating pizza, I am so bad at keeping my nice things nice. I'm at a place where Forever 21 stuff isn't cutting it but I have a hard time justifying buying fancy stuff if I'm gonna accidentally spill empanada grease on it.

Another thing is I don't know how to tell if things are expensive because they are well made or if they are just overpriced. How do I know what stuff to "invest" in, so to speak, that will look good for a long time with a bit of care and also withstand some of the rougher points of my youthful endeavors? I don't really foresee myself growing out of the accidentally-melting-a-Reese's-cup-in-my-pocket phase either, as my nearly 60 year old, arguably fancy mom does this on the regular. She just has a way bigger dry cleaning budget than I do.

Dry Cleaning

Dear Dry Cleaning,

The dry cleaner is sort of my own personal Battle of Bouvines; the whole thing seems routine and like a clear victory, but then everything goes amiss and pretty soon I’m signing a Magna Carta of laundry, replete with a bunch of signed concessions that I am, in fact, the stainer/tearer of my clothes. The fumes alone will make you agree to near anything. For this reason, I avoid buying anything I can’t wash at home like the plague, and I recommend everyone take this path of much, much, much less resistance.

Okay, gentle reader, let’s break this down into three parts: what nice things to get, how to know if that nice thing you’ve decided to get is nice or just expensive, and how to take care of it once you’ve got it.

I hate to lunge at you like this right out of the gate, but my first piece of advice is to never think of clothing as an investment. Like I said to LW1, as soon as you cut the hang tag off it, it’s all the same to the ladies at the Goodwill, so always remember you can’t get your money back out of it; it’s a sunk cost. That said, there are some places to spend and some places to save. T-shirts and tank tops, gym clothes, going-out tops, white anything, and trendy pieces are a great place to save. I don’t advocate buying the bottom-of-the-barrel stuff for ethical reasons, but you need a $70 white t-shirt like you need a hole in the head. It’s fun to have very current pieces, but you have to recognize that Grace Kelly did not wear harem pants.

Where you should spend your money is on good shoes in basic colors and styles, a black sheath dress if you wear dresses, suits if you wear suits, and blazers. Get all that ish tailored within an inch of its life, and then jazz it up with different ties, necklaces, scarves, or whatever else. There’s also this in-between “spend” and “save” category (spave?) that is harder to reckon with. In the spave category, I put things like jeans, black ballet flats, and dress shirts. On the one hand, I wear them a ton, but on the other, they’re in heavy rotation, so they get destroyed quickly. I advocate taking a middle ground here: don’t cheap out, but don’t feel obligated to spend big, and stock up at mall stores whenever they have sales.

The next part is how to know if you’re spending your money well, and this is pretty straightforward: look carefully at the garments. You’re looking for a high number of stitches per inch (20-25 is good), pattern matching (this means that the stripes/dots/plaid/paisley matches up along the seams), quality of material (too thin is bad; if it feels good, it is good), and single-needle stitching (basically, you want to see one line of stitches and not two). The best places to look for this are along the sides of the garment and at the buttonholes; a poorly constructed buttonhole is the canary in the denim mine. There’s a dressmaker in New Orleans, Trashy Diva, who makes things that are about on par with Banana Republic price-wise, and they’re vastly superior in terms of construction and quality. Another thing to think about is how long a brand has been around. Consider that Saddleback Leather Co. has been around for more than a century (tagline: They’ll Fight Over It When You’re Dead) and that a new leather satchel from them costs about $50 dollars more than one from J.Crew (est. 1983) and comes with a lifetime warranty. Much of the time, smaller labels that are made domestically aren’t necessarily more expensive and are better made.

You’re going to love this last part: the best way to take care of your stuff is to follow the instructions on the label and don’t wash them too much. If you spill something on your clothes, get stain remover on it NOW, not at the end of the episode of Covert Affairs you’re watching in bed on Hulu. Hang your things up correctly to help them preserve their shape, and fold bras, sweaters, and other very delicate things, you know, delicately. Use a gentle detergent, and take your stuff in to your tailor or cobbler the second something seems amiss. Don’t wait: a heelcap can be replaced in five minutes for even fewer dollars, but once you start to destroy the heel itself, you may as well start sitting shiva for your boots.

Yours in Cashmere,



Kirsten Schofield is an editor living in Charleston, South Carolina, where there are many stores to shop at instead of Hobby Lobby. She's taking questions for Ask a Fancy Person here

33 Comments / Post A Comment


Yes to consignment and second hand shopping! More than half my wardrobe (and almost all my work clothes) have come from those stores. Though, I have several very cute, knee-length pencil skirts from Forever 21 - my usual rule is that there is one work appropriate item in the Love 21 section at any given time, and it is my goal to find it.


pure and timeless@l


Can Fancy or anyone else address whether consignment/second hand stores are double digit size friendly? I maybe thought that all of those types of stores were for the trim and fit only...

isabelle bleu

@AmandaElsewhere Hi! Double-digit-size compatriot here, and inveterate thrift/consignment shopper. The answer to this question is going to depend a lot on where you live, but if there's anything remotely resembling a mid-sized town with a vaguely white-collar workforce within a hundred miles then you'll find some of what you want, because most of that workforce is middle-aged women (teachers, administrative professionals, etc). Most cities I've passed through have had at least one specialty plus-size consignment store. I find that certain items tend to be easier to find second-hand in my size (ranges from 12-20, depending on the item) - skirts, sweaters, jackets, and accessories are often available second-hand to fit my own particulars, whereas blouses, pants and dresses I tend to have to seek out new and alter to size. I also agree with the Fancy Person's rule about picking a colour scheme and sticking to it, because it makes thrift shopping at the big-box second hand stores way less overwhelming if I'm filtering for colour as well as size, fit, and quality.


@isabelle bleu Do you have any thoughts on using something like Gwynnie Bee?


@AmandaElsewhere My experience has been the same as the other commenter: it depends on the store. If you're looking for work clothes, find a store in a middle-class or up area, and not one frequented by teens. Also the wealthier people are, the more clothes they buy and get rid of, so if you go to a thrift store in a poorer area (like the one where I live) it tends to be a lot of Old Navy/Forever 21 stuff that's very, very worn; in wealthier areas you'll get stuff that was more expensive to begin with, and sometimes even still has tags.
In my experience church thrift stores are great places to find work-appropriate plus size women's clothing in decent shape.


@AmandaElsewhere I live in Calgary and there is a consignment store that caters specifically to +sizes, I'd check the yellow pages to see if something similar exists in your area.


With regards to addressing students respectfully but gender-neutrally, a high school teacher of mine did something that could be workable.
He'd playfully refer to students when calling on them as "Doctor _____", "Professor ______", "Representative _______" and so on.
I personally loved it and think most other students did too. It's completely gender-neutral and as a nice bonus is demonstrating not just respect but confidence in their futures and abilities.

Maggie Emily@facebook

Excellent wardrobe advice! I've worked in a lot of different jobs, some requiring more formality than others. I've had to refresh my wardrobe quite a few times. Here are some tricks I've picked up for saving $$$ (Please forgive the length of this advice-I just love talking about this subject):

1. Find a good, cheap seamstress/tailor. Longer hem lengths on skirts or dresses=outdated and dowdy. However, these items are generally cheaper and you can find some solid quality items in excellent fabrics (wool garbadrine, silk lining). Get those hemlines chopped to an appropriate and flattering length (I like just above the knee because I'm short). Only choose skirts or dresses that fit very well everywhere else to avoid costly large-scale alterations. Know that lined items will probably be more expensive to alter than unlined items.

2. Some thrift stores may not have dressing rooms. Check out Yelp reviews before you go. Wear leggings and a tank top so you can quick try on items in the aisle. If you don't have time for this, you can check to see if a skirt or pants will possibly fit by wrapping the waistband around your neck. Your neck is approximately 1/2 the size of your waist. This method isn't perfect, but it can eliminate items that are way off.

3. Ask for gift cards for birthdays/holidays. A lot of consignment shops will also offer gift certificates.

4. Sell some of your "too young" clothes. Different consignment shops look for different things. The place you go to buy workwear may not be interested in your skinny jeans. See if you can find one that has a younger tone.

5. Target has deep sales. Target quality is sometimes meh. If you wash on a delicate cycle and air dry, you can make these clothes last longer.

6. Buy a slip. Cheaper clothes (H&M and Target, for example) often aren't lined and a poor fit indicates poor quality and makes you look sloppy. However, a slip (short half slip) is a good hack for elevating cheaper clothes (and for the love of god, wear one when you wear tights with a skirt or sweater dress).


@Maggie Emily@facebook How do you talk to a tailor??
Like, what language do you use, what can/can't you ask for? When you are looking at a piece of clothing, how do you know if you should get it tailored or just leave it in the store? I'm just starting my first tailored-clothes expected job and I do NOT know what to do. Beyond hemming, what can they do?
I absolutely don't have an eye for these things, so I tend to either accept that something is going to look off on me or only buy something that fits me perfectly or close to it. Help!


@Maggie Emily@facebook I'm a man, so I can't speak too much to female-specific clothing, but I have had to get lots of clothing altered because I'm fairly short and slightly-built compared to, like, a Banana Republic mannequin.

For shirts, a tailor can easily alter the length or bring in the waist/trunk to make the shirt more tapered (either by opening up the side seams to remove fabric, or by adding darts in the back). A tailor can also shorten sleeves, but this costs a little more if done properly because they shorten the sleeve from the shoulder end rather than the cuff end. Still totally doable, though. My rule of thumb is to always buy shirts that fit in the shoulders and chest, because alterations in those areas are difficult and expensive and probably still won't look as good as a well-fitting new shirt.

For pants, similar situation: a tailor can easily alter the length and taper the legs. A tailor can also bring in the waist, and often can let it out a bit, too, depending on how the pants are made. Try to buy pants that generally fit in the butt and upper thighs since, as with the shirts, those alterations are costly and difficult since the tailor is almost making you a new pair of pants from the fabric.

Skirts and dresses? I have no idea. :-)


@juksie Sorry, replied to wrong person. See my reply above!


About L1: Clothing gets worn out, fades, and looks dated faster than cars do. Find a couple of reliable stores for work clothes (I like H&M and American Apparel) and you won't have to spend too much.

L2: Pretty sure touching your students is worse than accidentally using the wrong pronoun once in a while. Try "Yes?" or "Excuse me, ..." if you need to address someone directly.

Sarah Rain

Additional advice for L1: you probably don't need to have as many clothes as you think. Rewearing your "best" clothes frequently is better than adding variety with less appropriate pieces (or debt).

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Sarah Rain I think this is where Fancy's advice about bags, accessories, etc. comes into play. I love wearing fun T-shirts and I have a ton of them, and I pair them with a nice pair of jeans and my best cardigan/sweater/jacket and it works for me, in terms of looking appropriate for my workplace and getting ready in the morning quickly.


I once saw career clothes advice (can't remember where) that said to accumulate many styles of tops, then have 2-3 pairs of pants in black or neutrals. People at work will notice your style in the different tops. They will (hopefully) not notice that you wore your only pair of black pants on Mon, Wed, and Fri.

Also, a good tailor or a dry cleaner that does alterations will make baggy Target clothes and hand-me-downs look like couture. I go to one of the best tailors in Seattle, she charges up to $15 per dress shirt, $30 to totally redo some leather pants... so worth it.


@Nukegrrrl Giiirrl, who is your tailor? I'm in Seattle too - a close friend of mine does alterations but I'd like our friendship to not be me asking her to fix my shit all the time, you know?


To L1, I'd also recommend checking out Hukkster (hukkster.com). I've been using it for the last few months and it's been great! I can have the company track when that cute dress at Ann Taylor is on sale (in my size) and email me, since I'm not going to pay $98 for it, but I might pay $40. Good luck!


The key to building an Adult Person Wardrobe is something I like to call the Upgrade System. I work in a very casual office, but in a fashion-related industry, so while almost all of my clothes double as casualwear, I have to look well put together and professional. Every season since getting hired, I'll spend some time researching what look of the season I'm really drawn to AND is functional, matches my personal style and existing wardrobe the best. I'll narrow it down to a handful of key pieces that would get the most milage, and from there, decide what I need, what I just want, what needs to be higher quality, and which items in my wardrobe deserve an upgrade.

See, not all nice/expensive clothes carry the same weight in making you look fancy, but the ones that do (dress pants, silk shirts, natural fiber sweaters, etc) make the less important pieces look much nicer as part of an outfit.

So you start off by purchasing a few nicer, well-fitting pieces that will get the most milage in your existing wardrobe (and imaginary future wardrobe). Fill in the rest with what you can afford, and get the trendier things from H&M or something.

Then, as you figure out what your "staple" items are, or what looks too cheap/young for the look you're going for, slowly replace these items with a higher quality version. When you know what you want/need (keep a list), it makes it easier to take advantage of sales when you see them.

For example, I found myself with a lot of outfits that either required a white tank top or a black/grey cardigan. The ones I had were ok, but either a little cheap, starting to wear out, or the wrong fit for the outfits. They got the job done, but didn't really suit my wardrobe anymore. So I held onto them until I had some extra money and came across some good discounts on a really nice, versatile wool sweater and a quality, fitted white tank.

And POOF! So many outfits were instantly upgraded! All of a sudden, I could wear a white tank top and jeans (which I'd also upgraded) to work, maybe with a cool necklace, and it was a "look" instead of just plain clothing.


Pick a silhouette and a color palette and stick to it. Seriously, it will make your life so much easier - and you will look better, since everyone has a handful and colors and shapes that look best on them. I only wear four or five colors and pretty much live in pencil skirts, long sleeved, fitted tops, and round-toe pumps. It makes getting dressed faster and easier, since I already know everything goes with everything else, and when I go shopping, I don't have to bother looking at 3/4 of the stuff out there because I know I won't wear it.


@commanderbanana Completely agree with this! I'm black/grey/navy for neutrals and red/royal teal/emerald for colors. Plus white shirts. The results is that everything matches everything else. And when it comes to picking neutrals, beware browns. Every black matches every other black, but browns come in so many shades and it's harder to look pulled together when shoes / belt / purse are all different ones (a real concern when shopping consignment). Plus if you only have a few colors to worry about, you can get statement pieces in those colors (like a red coat or bag) because it will go with all the stuff you own and won't look out of place.

Also, if you wear pants, decide in advance on your preferred heel height and stick to it within half an inch plus or minus. That way you won't have to match heel heights and pants thereby reducing the total number of outfits. All my dress pants are for an approx 2 inch heel and all my casual pants for flats. Shoes are expensive and hard to find consignment so the fewer you need to buy right now (and note the comment on a good cobbler -- invaluable).

Jam Jam

The Saddleback backpacks are beautiful, but they are not "$50 more than one from J. Crew". They are much, much more.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

LW1 - I think Jane Marie wrote a column on a similar topic back in the days of Beauty Q&A, so it's worth doing a quick search through the Hairpin to see if it turns up! Her advice and Fancy's are quite different, so there's no overlap, and it might be pretty helpful for you to have two perspectives on the same subject!

My one piece of advice to you (I've been working in an office for a good while now, but am still going through what you're going through) is to organize your wardrobe if you haven't already. I try to have work-appropriate clothes grouped together to make it easier to build outfits and get out the door a little earlier every morning instead of wondering where that grey skirt ended up.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

also, LW3: I know that feeling! It comes with the added dread of having friends in the same boat, as well as friends who haven't boarded the boat yet, and not knowing how to dress for certain days. Gah.


High-end bargain shopping is the BEST. Find your staple pieces, know your size, and hit ebay. JBrand 811 Mid-Rise skinny jeans are my denim holy grail - and they usually retail for around $200. Some I've paid full price for, and some I've found (brand new, with tags) for $60-90 on ebay.

For shoes, spend a couple hours at Nordstrom or Saks trying on high-end brands and make note of your sizes (even $$$ shoes can have unexpected sizing quirks, though I've found they're more likely to be consistent within the brand and not vary too much between styles). Then, once again -- ebay. I've also found some great deals on Gilt, RueLaLa, and MyHabit. Just A) make sure the item is returnable if you're not certain about fit and B) ALWAYS do a quick search for the same item to see if it's available elsewhere for less. On "sale" at Gilt may not be the best price you can find.

Oh, also? YOOX. Oh my god, the shoes at Yoox. Who cares if it's last season? I got a pair of amazing woven Givenchy heeled sandals there for about 1/3 of their retail price. They've also got a ton of stuff you won't see at every single department store on earth, and have loads of brands that aren't even carried in the US. (I've had very little luck with their clothes, though.)

Mary Ellen Kirkendall@facebook

Marry a nice woman and you can pool your resources in costume jewelry and accessories! If that's not an option an occasional "naked lady party" or accessory swap can make freshen up your looks for fewer bucks.


I personally loved it and think most other students did too. It's completely gender-neutral and as a nice bonus is demonstrating not just respect but confidence in their futures and abilities.



To the TA: when I was a TA, I used the word "Team!" as both a vous singular and vous plural. It always had the exclamation point at the end. :)


For office clothes, I loooove suit-dresses. One piece and you are done. Pair with a blazer or cardigan if you want for a bit of extra fanciness (and warms), an appropriate color heel, and you're good to go. I've gotten nice ones for $3 at Goodwill, $30 on clearance at JC Penny, and $80 at New York & Co. The Goodwill one required some alteration (the vent in the back went all the way up to my bum so I sewed it shut), but yeah. Also seconding what others have said about getting 3 or so good pairs of pants and having a bunch of tops (which Goodwill is also awesome for - you might have to try on 80 to find 8 good blouses, but hey, blouses.)


@Lis I was going to say, dresses only, one piece and you're done. They are so EASY, no mixing, no matching, and there is never any question whether a particular outfit is work-appropriate.

Hà Văn Quảng@facebook

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