Affordable business wear options for women

With more and more women entering the workforce, establishing professional apparel is a must.

While going to class in sweatpants, oversized athletic hoodies and baseball caps is acceptable, the world of career fairs, job interviews and internships is an entirely different ball game. A clean cut and professional appearance sets the tone and makes a good, lasting impression on potential employers. However, acceptable business outfits for women can be difficult to put together or afford.

With intern and job fairs making appearances, now is the time to reassess on business wear. Stocking a closet with appropriate and fashionable business essentials doesn’t have to be a daunting or expensive experience. Business professional or casual attire can be purchased at nearby retail stores such as Target, Kohls or T.J. Maxx.

Two students from the College of Business created a resource for students searching for gently used business attire. Barsema’s Closet, created by Emma Stettner and Cordnei Gibson, is stocked with business essentials such as blouses, blazers and overcoats for students to purchase ranging from $1 to $25 in price.

Whether browsing Barsema’s closet or a local retail store, here are four workwear essentials to complete any college woman’s closet.


Classic blazer

A solid-colored, one-button blazer in black, federal blue or khaki is a professional must-have. The dark color of the blazer looks best in contrast with a light, neutral top underneath. Spend time finding a quality-made blazer that fits well, especially in the arms and waist. A blazer can be paired with dark jeans and a flowy top for a business casual look, or with a fitted pencil skirt and blouse for more formal occasions. Blazers range from $20 to over $100, but affordable options can be found at local retail and department stores such as Macy’s or Target. Target’s line A New Day sells a Women’s Bi-Stretch Twill Blazer in four colors for $34.99; the blazer is polyester with spandex for stretch and notched lapels.


Basic, white button-down

Second to a blazer, this piece of clothing is the most versatile item to own. Its sophisticated yet casual in the same sentence and can be tucked in, buttoned up or oversized and still look great. Buying one of these magic blouses can be tricky, and it’s difficult to know what kind of fabric or style is right for what occasion. A white long-sleeve button-down from Uniqlo is made from 100$ French linen, a light-weight yet quality fabric, and retails for $29.90. Apt. 9 brand from Kohl’s sells their Structure Essential Button-Down for a similar price of $29.99 for a slim-fitting look and breathable cotton fabric.

Bright-colored flats

Have some fun by adding a pop of color to an otherwise boring business look. Sensible flats in fun colors like red, yellow or purple add a sprinkle of personality to an outfit, and going for flats instead of heels maintains comfort. A ruby red or taxi cab yellow pairs nicely with black and white polka dot pants, while navy blue or seafoam green looks great with white capris or khakis. Quality shoes can get pricey, but look at them as a long-term investment, and there are affordable options that don’t compromise quality or comfort. Kohl’s Journee Collection features Astley Women's D'Orsay Flats for $44.99. Use code “COLD” for an additional 15% off until Feb. 18. The flats come in six colors including a cherry red and are made with a traction sole and padded footbed.


Skinny-leg trousers

Jeans are absolutely forbidden for a job interview, and while they may be a safe bet for an office casual look, the airtight option is a pair of slim ankle-length dress pants. Black trousers are flattering on all body types, functional and add a touch of elegance to any outfit. Women’s Simply Vera Vera Wang collection at Kohl’s carries these Everyday Luxury Ponte Skinny Pants for $34.99. Ponte design refers to “a design with stability, firmness, subtle sheen and incredible durability.” Apt. 9 also carries a Brynn Midrise Skinny Dress Pant for $36.99. While similar in fabric to the Vera Wang pants, the Apt. 9 pair has no pockets, lower fit on the hips and elastic waistband.