Hot Business Looks on a Tiny Budget Through Thrifting!

November 30, 2011  |  
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By Yassira Diggs

When times get financially rough, as they have for the millions of unemployed and under-employed Americans out there seeking work, it’s easy for “non-essential expenses,” such as clothes shopping to fall by the wayside in many-a-budget. However, with organizations like Goodwill around, that need not be the case. During a recent trip to the Goodwill Boutique in the West Village, stylist Emme Bonilla, a frequent contributor to the A Good Look by GoodwillNyNj blog, showed us a variety of looks for budget-conscious customers looking to keep their wardrobes on point. We have organized her looks according to various careers, showing that women of all job demographics can utilize thrift stores to remain stylish. Let’s take a look!



The Writer/Director:
Never underestimate the power of simplicity. Basic black and white doesn’t have to be run-of-the-mill. Consider this crisp white sleeveless button down, which is anything but ordinary with its architectural collar, paired here with classic black trousers. The look is further elevated with black patent accessories, the importance of which Bonilla couldn’t stress enough for their tremendous versatility, saying: “Belts are huge because they can change the whole look around. This one is classic because it’s in a black color, it’s understated, but it pops with the shine, as do the shoes. They’re updated classics, if you will.”

The (Jones New York) Shirt: $12.99
The trousers: $12.99
The belt: $4.99
The (Michael Kors) flats: $19.99

The Creative Executive

Here’s one way to have some fun within a corporate wardrobe: Buy timeless basics, like the great fitting suit from which this duster length gray wool jacket was pulled, and wear them “mismatched.” Here Bonilla gives
the suit new life with a beautiful ice-blue button-down shirt in a delicate shimmery fabric, which is reflected in the metallic belt. The entire look is given a huge pop of color with a red skirt, “a great way to incorporate a
visual ‘Pow’ into your outfit,” she said, and a tweed pump which goes perfectly into winter.

The wool (Emanuel Ungaro) suit: $29.99
The belt (stylist owned — bought at Goodwill): $3.99
The skirt: $12.99
The (Steve Madden) tweed pump: $12.99

The Administrative/Executive Assistant

In keeping with Bonilla’s advice on how to “do corporate, your own way,” here the skirt-half of the Ungaro suit seen in the previous look is worn with a short-sleeved black blazer. A fresh berry-tinted lightweight sleeveless blouse with a fun ruffle detail down the front brings a splash of color. And the look is completed with a black patent heel, a shoe Bonilla considers essential, saying: “If you follow the A Good Look by Goodwill NyNj blog, I talk about the Goodwill essentials that every woman should have in her closet, and that includes the Essential Heel. For me, nothing is more essential than black patent leather heels. You can wear them with everything. Jeans, dresses, trousers, skirts, anything.”

The (Emanuel Ungaro) wool suit: $29.99
The (J. Crew) blouse: $7.99
The essential patent heel: $9.99

From Childcare Worker to Personal Shopper: Keeping it Casually Chic!

Whether tending to children or running errands, this versatile look is all about being comfortable, but still being put together. A dark rinse skinny jean, a piece easily dressed up or down, and a great ribbed tank t-shirt with neck detailing in marigold go beautifully into fall when topped with a rich plum slouchy cardigan. Snake skin embossed loafers in a contrasting pumpkin orange and embossed sterling silver earrings complete the look. “This is a great example color blocking, a play of solid contrasting colors,” our personal thrifting shopper told us. Will you try it?

The (Marc Jacobs) cardigan $19.99
The ribbed t-shirt $7.99
The jeans: $9.99
The loafers: $9.99



Construction Worker… After Work

If you’re in a uniform consisting of jeans and a t-shirt that usually get a little grubby, and you don’t have time to go home and change, this is something you can wear to go to the movies, to the park, or hang out with friends even after a day working with your hands. Yes, you are essentially wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but add this button down shirt with front ruffle accent, and it’s just a great way of pulling a look together in almost no time. “Button up the shirt, wear it with the right skirt and it’s ready for (office) work,” Bonilla adds. Very versatile!

The (DKNY) t-shirt: $7.99
The button down: $12.99
The skinny jeans: $9.99
The (Mossimo) flats: $9.99

Fashion Veteran

This leopard print tunic is the picture of fashion-forward versatility. Worn loose, enjoy its silky fluidity over a pair of dark rinse skinny jeans. Add a statement shoe and you’re ready for industry events. “If you’re going out
at night, you can add a great necklace, you can cinch the tunic at the waist for a different look, possibilities are endless,” said the stylist.

The (Zara) leopard print tunic: $14.99
The skinny jean: $9.99
The fabulous high heel: $19.99



PR/Communications Guru

Trouser style jeans in a dark rinse kick denim up a notch. Worn with a dark orange silk blouse with soft ruffle accents and a nice pair of loafers, this is a comfortable way to look polished and ready to go from the office to most any occasion. “You can also add a great blazer, a cardigan, a scarf, but just with these basic pieces, the outfit can evolve.” We agree!


PR Evening event, Fashion Veteran

No major accessories required. With this amount of sparkle, the dress is the accessory, paired here with a soft black cardigan, and the essential black patent heels. For a fun way to wear it during the day add a pair of Converse sneakers and a jean jacket. Other options include adding a nice strong belt, and/or adding a pop of color. Our thrifting guru says: “Add a pair of opaque black tights and some ankle booties and you can work this in the midst of the dreary winter.”

The cardigan: $7.99
The dress: $12.99
The essential patent heel: $9.99


The Black/White Print Wrap Dress

This print wrap dress is the embodiment of versatility. Shown here with a short sleeved black blazer, in a ready-for-work incarnation, as well as on its own, paired with the essential patent heel; And then, of course, we had to see it with the irresistible statement shoe from the previous (fashion veteran) look, just for kicks. Our Goodwill style expert adds: “It can work for a professional woman, it can work for a stay at home mother who needs to run errands and still look put
together, it can work for almost anyone.”

The way you present yourself to the world, your wardrobe, doesn’t need to take a dive in hard times. Shopping for gently used clothes from Goodwill, or any other recycled clothing store is a viable guilt-free way to keep yourself current, and look great without breaking your bank. Try it and you’ll be doing a good
deed for your wallet, and even more so for the environment. Many thanks to the folks at Goodwill Ny Nj for their participation in this story.

Are these looks for you? Have you ever tried thrift store shopping to stay stylish on a budget?

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