On a Budget: Young Professionals in Philly

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Hi! I’m Morgan, a Philadelphia native and a bachelor degree holding graduate trying to make my way in the city as a working professional. I graduated from Penn State Abington in 2017 and have worked in university admissions, and now in marketing and social media, since graduation.

Guest-written by Morgan Kelly

All my life I’ve wanted to be the woman in the pencil skirt walking down the streets of Center City, heading somewhere fabulous and doing exciting things. Now I am that woman, except somewhere fabulous is a desk and the exciting thing is planning out this month’s content calendar. But that’s alright, I still have the pencil skirt! 

First day at the new job? Have an interview coming up? Took a job during the pandemic and now, two years later, you are being called into the office for the first time and you have no idea what to wear? No worries, you’re not alone. 

Shopping for professional wear, especially for the first time, is never an easy task. It gets even harder when you are restrained by a strict budget. The bills have to be paid and they simply will not allow for you to drop almost one hundred dollars for one blazer, and you’re going to want options! 

Let me help you hunt down the perfect office wardrobe with enough money left over to treat your team to coffee on the first week. 

If you have a car or happen to live near the Bensalem suburb just outside of Philadelphia, you’ll find that you are standing in an oasis of thrift shops. Thrifting is a great way to determine your style without breaking the bank, and pick up some unique statement pieces that will give you great water cooler talk ice-breakers. 

1. Liberty Thrift – Feasterville Trevose

A large floor of used clothing from blazers, sweaters, cardigans, dress tops, and dress pants; and a great selection of different sizes and colors of your classics like black slacks and plain blazers, while also letting you explore your style with some older pieces. Think 80s shoulder pad blazer with high-waisted 90s style flare dress pants.

Credit: libertythriftstores.com; @libertythrift

2. Good Stuff Thrift

Smaller selection but the potential for higher quality selections. A color block Anne Taylor pencil skirt dress? Um, yes please! There are also multiple locations for this thrifting chain and you’ll find a new treasure at every stop. Mark your calendar and plan a Good Stuff trip and make a day of it! 

Credit: Good Stuff Thrift Facebook; @goodstuffthrift

 

While thrifting offers unique pieces with the peace of mind of purchasing clothes to reuse and recycle, when you’re on a budget, don’t underestimate the power of a chain store. Center City Philadelphia can sometimes feel a tad out of your price range shopping-wise, but hitting a major chain can make shopping in the city so much easier.

These are the places to get your staple pieces to complement the pink and yellow floral dress pants you found at the thrift shop…

3. H&M

This was where I used to go for graphic t-shirts and jeggings, but now it’s where I go for a silky white button-up blouse for less than $20. After spending half my allowed budget on statement pieces, I always tend to forget that they need to be paired with staples. White, navy blue, and black are always safe choices in blouses, dress shirts, dresses, and pants.

Don’t be afraid to pick out some brighter colors to spice up your look. And blouse wearers—pay attention to the thickness of your shirt fabrics; there is nothing worse than finding the perfect shirt only to find out it’s see-through!

Credit: Philly Mag; @hm 

4. Primark

This is a fantastic store to gather your work clothes as well as accessories. Closed toe heels, flats, loafers, booties, and business casual appropriate sneakers. This is also a great place to pick up a solid colored belt to go with those new pants. Be sure to grab a new purse or backpack that can fit a laptop and all of your items for the work day!

Credit: Philly Voice; @primark.usa (Check out their great vlog of shopping in the Philly location!)

It takes years to gather a full business wardrobe, so don’t feel discouraged. With each new job will come new environments and new opportunities to explore your professional style. You don’t have to make six figures to be the best dressed in the office, you just have to know where to shop! 

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