How to Look Good for Less: Budget-Friendly Workwear

Written for Broadsheet

Figuring out what to wear to work every day can be tiresome, expensive and uninspiring.

Perth-based Gabrielle Leavesley and Melbourne’s Nessie Croft, of non-typical workwear label Coreprêt, are challenging your Monday-to-Friday fashion sense with a range of sustainable quality contemporary pieces you can wear again and again.

Croft believes that because our workplaces are where most of us spend the majority of our week we should be able to wear clothes that suit our needs and give us confidence. “We strongly believe in taking the time to invest in quality, timeless fashion pieces that don’t compromise your personal aesthetic or values,” she says.

The duo sits down with Broadsheet to decode dressing for work affordably and elegantly, and to share tips on where to shop for imaginative quality office wear.

Be considered in your approach
Croft and Leavesley both agree that asking questions is important for putting together a wardrobe that caters to all seasons. “Where is it made? What is the fibre content? Is it natural or synthetic? How often will I wear it? Does it actually fit my body shape? Am I willing to commit to this piece long-term?” says Croft. “You want your workwear to tick a number of boxes; you need to decide what those are and then apply them to your shopping habits.”

Invest in quality, timeless pieces
“Quality, for us, means a great fit, impeccable construction, considered fabric choice and garments that transcend the seasons and generations,” Croft says, stressing it’s vital to take the time to invest in some versatile, high-quality pieces in order to save on your price-per-wear in the long-term. The pair suggests local designers Limb the LabelLois Hazel and Kowtow.

You can’t go wrong with a two-piece suit
Croft and Leavesley believe a sharp two-piece suit, which can be worn together or as separate pieces, can be a staple for the office throughout the week. Think of it as three different looks for the price of one. The designers recommend UK fashion retailer Reiss, which offers an extensive range of smart suiting.

Don’t be afraid to outfit repeat
Don’t be scared to throw on the same outfit two days in a row, the duo says. “If you’re investing in quality basics, no one will notice but you,” says Croft. And she says if you’re looking to spice up a look, just add some jewellery, statement footwear or a bag. “Use your accessories to harness parts of your personal style, particularly if your work uniform is fairly understated,” she says. “We’re currently in love with CDG x Dr Martens in ivory – they’re stylish and give your outfit that little bit of edge.”

Croft also emphasises being playful with your accessories. She recommends drawing upon typical masculine archetypes – like a necktie, a bold belt, cute socks – or jazzing up your lanyard. “Little details that help your personality shine through,” she says. The duo also recommends Ada Hodgson for your office-appropriate jewellery needs, Actually Existing for beautifully made accessories and Issey Miyake Pleats Please for a stylish splash of colour.

Share clothes with friends and family
“We regularly swap clothing with our friends to create a shared wardrobe,” says Croft, excited by the prospect that wardrobes can double, or even triple in size. “If you’re lucky enough to live with friends (with good taste), then organising a shared wardrobe is easy. If not, it just takes a little more planning but it’s well worth it.”

Learn to mend your own clothes
“If you’re really tired of your wardrobe, look for local workshops that show you how to re-invent key pieces through dyeing, mending or other craft practices,” Croft says. She believes it can completely change the look of an old, over-worn garment, giving it new life – particularly if something becomes ill-fitting. The duo recommends workshops held by designers in conjunction with larger events such as Melbourne Fashion Week, Fashion Revolution Week or Slow Fashion Festival. Alternatively, your grandma might have a skill or two she could teach you. And Patagonia has also developed online guides on how to mend.

Where to shop
Croft and Leavesley recommend shopping at local op shops, vintage stores and designer consignment stores to find stylish and affordable office wear. Some of their favourite second-hand shops include designer consignment store BruceRecycle Boutique (where you can also make money), Swop and local op shops in Collingwood and Abbotsford in Melbourne. “There’s a particularly good one on Gipps Street,” Croft says. They also recommend online platforms such as EverlaneThe Real Real and Well Made Clothes.

“If you’re more inclined to partake in wardrobe sharing, then we recommend The Clothing Exchange, which offers a platform for people to come together both online and in person to swap their clothes,” says Leavesley. “And finally, if you prefer an ever-changing wardrobe, we encourage you to sign up to Glam Corner, a clothing rental service that also offers subscriptions for workwear capsules.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: