Five Retailers To Buy Affordable, Professional Attire for Women

I’ve always been taught to dress for the job you want and not the job you currently have. Not surprisingly, this has always worked to my advantage because when I look good I feel good and my confidence radiates. People also make judgments based on appearance. Honestly, we all do it because our minds are visual.

While it's important to dress like a CEO when you’re trying to climb the career ladder or launch a new business; it’s not necessary to spend all of your "non-CEO" salary on looking professional.  

Here are my favorite retail stores for building a professional wardrobe like the aspiring boss that you are:

NY & Company

NY & Company is hands down one of my favorite retailers for professional attire for several reasons. The collections are super cute and versatile; meaning you can wear them to work or happy hour and still look fly. They’re very affordable and there’s always a sale in-store or online. I especially love that they carry suit separates and an array of dresses and skirts so you can look amazing yet feminine. The Eva Mendes collection is my favorite celebrity collaboration.  Gabrielle Union also has a Being Mary Jane inspired collection as well and she always serves. 

Style Encore

Style Encore is a subsidiary of the second-hand clothing franchises of Plato’s Closet and Once Upon a Child. While it’s the same business concept of buying gently-owned clothing; this store only accepts brands that are for women with a more mature aesthetic. Think of brands like the Banana Republic, DKNY, White House Black Market or Diane von Furstenberg. You can find amazing suits or separates like boyfriend blazers or slacks, rompers, you name it. The best part is most items are 90% off! I once purchased a DVF romper for $35. 

Discovery Clothing

Discovery Clothing boutiques are a hidden gem but they’re only located in select cities like Miami and Chicago. However, since we do live in a digital age, you can shop their boutiques online. This store is a great find for women who are started in their careers or business efforts and need nice clothing without breaking the bank. They have nice blouses, pencil skirts, and a few suit pieces. Protip--go up a size because things run small. I recently purchased a suit set of shorts and a blazer for $35. I looked fierce! 

J.C. Penny  

Please don’t sleep on Penny’s. They have career attire for every generation from millennials to boomers who aren’t ready to retire. I’ll admit before I gave JCP a chance I expected to see outfits that only Blanche Deveraux would love but I was wrong. What I like best about JCP is that many of the suits are sleek and come in fun colors and they’re not at all frumpy. The best part is—there’s always a $10 off coupon. 


My first store credit card was with Express. I was 17 and so excited. The store has changed a lot over the last decade and a half but one thing that remains true is that the Editor pant is legit. Express, in my opinion, has the best fitting suits for women of all shapes and sizes. The prices may be on the higher end compared to the other four favorite retailers but its worth the money because their clothing lasts for years!  Many of the pieces are timeless and can be mixed in with current trends. I still have items from grad school and possibly undergrad. Do they fit like they did ten years ago? Who can say?

Honorable mention:


On any given Sunday, you can find a nice suit or professional dress at Zara. My only apprehension is that the clothes don't retain their value, meaning a full-priced suit will be on sale in a few weeks. For those reasons, I don't recommend paying full price for their clothing. I also don't like that most of their collections are super trendy which means you don't get as much value for your wear. 

Who are some of your favorite retailers for professional women with serious goals?

Also, check out my What to Wear to Work inspiration board

--Ar'Sheill Monsanto