How to Dress Professionally On The Cheap

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

I hit the ground running this morning!

I started my day by talking Mr. Murphy for a walk around the block. He got right down to “business” this morning! Then, I headed inside to get started on some housework.

I changed the sheets and made the bed.


Emptied and reloaded the dishwasher. 


Wash, dried, and folded a load of laundry. 


Organized the dry cleaning to drop off later this morning.


And made a lovely breakfast! 


I had a big bowl of pumpkin oats with Cinnamon Crunch cereal sprinkled on top for some added sweetness and crunch. I later added some Barney Butter to my oats. I love that stuff! 😉 


I drank so much coffee yesterday, I made myself a warm mug of tea instead this morning. I tried a new flavor today: Dilmah Dombagastalawa Estate. It was a nice strong, black tea.


Healthy Living Examiner

Check out my new Examiner post: Beans, Beans. I love beans! :mrgreen:

Dressing Professionally on the Cheap

The other day, a readers sent me the following email:

“First off, I really enjoy reading your blog. You’re such an inspiration!! I’ve also noticed from your photos that you have a very stylish work wardrobe. I am starting a new job next week and would love some tips for dressing professionally while on a budget. I’m also in the process of losing weight, which makes it tricky because I don’t want to spend a lot of money on pieces that probably (hopefully!) won’t fit in a month! If you have time (I know you’re busy and also in the middle of a work transition) I would love for a few ideas, i.e. where you shop, basic/favorite items, accessories, etc. Maybe a special post?! I’m sure many women would find this super helpful.”

Personally, I don’t think I’m really all that stylish, but I know how find good deals! And, of course, I would love to share my tips for dressing professionally and shopping within a budget.

  • Assess your closet. Before you even set foot in a store, figure out what you need and what you want to add to your wardrobe. Seriously, take an afternoon to pull everything out of your closet and organize it. Try on pieces you haven’t worn in awhile, donate pieces that don’t fit well, and make a list of items that you want to purchase. Think about what pieces you would be able to wear with more than one outfit.erez
  • Stick to your list and set a realistic budget. I usually give myself a budget range. I know it can be hard to stick to your budget when you find the perfect pair of pants or boots, so I allow myself a little wiggle room. But, I don’t let myself go overboard either.
  • Invest in wardrobe essentials. A pair of black pants from Banana Republic are typically pretty pricey, but spending more money on a classic pair of pants, for instance, will not only save you money in the long run, but will also create go-to items in your wardrobe. Other items that I don’t skimp on are jeans, pants, dress shirts, bras, and boots.
  • Spend less on trendy items. Usually, I can only wear a trendy top a few times before it goes out of style. I shop at Target, H&M, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx for trendy, but cheap pieces.
  • Buy quality, comfortable shoes. Cheapy shoes are the worst! They hurt your feet and a fall apart after a few weeks. Good shoes make all the difference! I stick to neutral colors, so I can easily interchange them with different
  • Head straight for the sale racks. I love Banana Republic and shop there a lot. But, I rarely buy items there for full price. I shop the sale racks like it’s my job! I’m willing to wait for things to go on sale.
  • Sign up for email alerts. Stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy send emails when they are having big sales, so you can take advantage of them.
  • Look online for ideas. I love J. Crew, but I think their prices are outrageous! Instead, I get ideas from their website and catalogues, and then shop at cheaper stores like Target or H&M to find look-alikes. I’ll even rip out pages from the J. Crew catalogue and bring them with me.
  • Shop at consignment stores. They often have great deals on typically expensive items, like coats, blazers, and designer handbags. Consignment stores can save you some serious money! And, you can make money by consigning the clothing you don’t wear!
  • Utilize cheap accessories. Most accessories can be purchased on a budget and can be used with a variety of outfits. I buy cheap jewelry from Target and H&M. A funky necklace, scarf, or chunky bracelet can totally jazz-up a basic t-shirt, jersey dress, or crewneck sweater.

Question of the Day

What are your tips for dressing stylish on a budget?



  1. Those are definitely great tips! I completely agree and think it’s worth it to spend a little more money on the essentials like pants, a nice blazer, cardigan, etc. And when I know exactly what I want and need when I walk into a store, it makes it SO much easier than roaming around clueless!

  2. Thanks for this post Tina! I love to wear heels at work but I have yet to find a comfortable pair…anybody have any recommendations?

  3. Outlet shopping! Wrentham outlets in Massachusetts is the best – I usually go twice a year with a friend or my boyfriend and I budget accordingly. Just to give you an idea of the loot I scored last time: nine west bag + (2) ralph lauren sweaters + (1) dress from banana republic + (2) shirts from jcrew + (2) pairs of work out pants and (4) work out tops from adidas and under armor = $300 bucks!

  4. Good tips! It’s always so hard for me to settle on the right cheap accessories that don’t look cheap. Then I see them on someone else and wish I’d thought of it!!

  5. I’m a sucker for deals so I go to my favorite stores and immediately hit the sales racks in the back. I’ve come out of numerous stores with tons of clothes for not a lot of money. Also, I buy a lot of basics so I can mix and match 🙂

  6. I bet you feel so much better after getting some housework out of the way! I need to do this when I get home from work today.

    Great tips for sporting style on a budget. I definitely like to wear the same piece, but in different ways and in more than one outfit.

  7. i have the same yelp bag!

    i have started doing clothing swaps the last few years – every season i invite my girl friends to clean out their closet, come over and we rummage through each other’s goods. i have gotten SO MUCH STUFF out of this, it’s a lot of fun, and we get to get rid of all the crap we never wear! win win!

  8. I love this post, as you know fashion is a biggy for me.I think investing is quality staples is really important too! All of your tips are great Tina!

    My tips would be to:

    1. Invest in some cheap bright or fun patterned accessories- a bright of fun scarf or headband can make a ho-hum outfit pop.
    2. Buy some scarfs- I love how “in” scarfs are now, they make any outfit more fun and translate really well for work and casual.
    3. Buy tights! They come in all colors and patterns now and are so cheap. Right now my outfit is a little boring, but I have black patterned tights on that make it a little fun, but still professional.
    4. BELTS! Adding a belt in the just the place can make some things that are a little ill fitting look amazing on you. All of my tops that were a little big after my 30 lb. weight loss look fantastic when belted under the bust.

  9. I love those tips. For me I also think it is important to think about how a piece you like will work with others you have. I have found some great things before but then realized I would have to buy something else to wear with it.

  10. Hi Tina, I read your blog religiously! I know that with your career change (CONGRATS!), your looking for ways to save $. My husband and I are on a tight budget as he is in school and I’m a teacher, and one way we save is by not having our clothes dry cleaned. Unfortunately, dry cleaning is expensive and it’s a cost that does not go away. So, I just don’t buy clothes that have to be dry cleaned. I know I’ve saved a chunk of money by doing this after hearing about my co-workers weekly dry cleaning bills. Just thought I’d share this tip that I use!

  11. I can find the best deals in Old Navy on their sales racks. Stick to plain pieces that you can jazz up with jewelry, shoes, etc. Then no worries about patterns that will be weird later.

  12. My tip: clearance racks. I know, some people look down upon that, but a girls got to do what A GIRLS GOT TO DO.
    Target and Old navy are my favs, they never fail to deliver.
    Sometimes you can buy something too big and tailor it yourself, or something torn or stained and fix it up with a bit of creativity.

    Maybe I’m just a cheapskate.

  13. These tips are great! Its essential to invest in those key pieces for your work wardrobe because those are the things you will wear most, and get your money’s worth, so you never want to skimp out.

  14. I think my best tip is buying super-cheap summer clothes, and investing more in fall/winter/spring clothes. We usually have less than three months of summer in Minnesota, so I spend the most on the clothes that I’ll wear the most!

  15. I think when you’re losing weight and don’t have much cash, the best thing to do is to shop Goodwill. You’ll spend $5 on a top or bottom at max. Look for items that can easily be made into two sizes, such as pants with adjustable belts. Don’t bother buying button-up shirts if you can help it. Focus more on nice sweaters and short-sleeved tops to wear underneath fitted hackets.

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