Office Chic: How to Look Fab on A Budget

How to Shop on a Budget


Category: Lifestyle

Read Time: 5 minutes

 So even though I would never call myself a fashion blogger, here's what I do know:

  • I love to shop. 

  • I love to shop a lot. 

  • My wallet doesn't like to shop as much as I do.

This of course has lead to me discovering the best compromise - sales rack shopping. One of the most important yet underrated crafts in the game that allows you to have the best of both worlds.

What's crazy is that it didn't really occur to me that I actually know how to shop a mean sales rack until today when I went inside Nordstrom Rack and found these OTK Steve Madden boots for $9. So I thought, why keep all of this amazing knowledge to myself when I could share the tea with all of my boss babes trying to look fab on a budget? (Plus we all know I love being real with my readers - and if you don't, find out here).

So for all girls who appreciate quality clothes but cannot justify paying the guap to buy it regular priced, this one's for you.



#1: Shop with confidence

Yes I know, kinda lame for the first guide - but I promise you this is key. Let me tell you why.

I use to be super embarrassed to head to the sales rack as soon as I entered a store. Instead, I'd walk into a TopShop or an Urban Outfitters and linger around the front of the store for a little bit knowing good and well that your girl was not paying $79.99 for a bandana.

I would be so concerned that people would label me as the "broke black girl" that could only afford to shop in the clearance section (wow, I'm giving y'all realtea now).

I figured I'm probably not the only one that has ever struggled with the misconception of the sales rack and financial status, so I'm here to tell you straight up that there is nothing wrong with shopping in the sales section.

Society will scream "Gucci everything" but can barely pay their bills. Don't spend out of your means just because you think the Sales section makes you look poor. 

There are so many hidden treasures on sale and you could literally be missing out because you're too focused on what others think.

Shopping is an experience that is lived best when the fashionista in you is flying free and not worrying about what other people are thinking.

So let her fly and check that shame at the door.

Here are two ways that help me not be so concerned with how people view me:

1. Bring a friend

It’s not a myth that sometimes two is better than one! Sometimes it’s way easier to not worry about what people are thinking when you’re having fun and bouncing off opinions and energy with someone else. And you have another opinion that isn't only yours when you're trying on clothes which can be super helpful. And I mean, who doesn't love a shopping bestie?!

2. Talk on the phone / listen to your own music

If you don't have anyone to shop with or don't necessarily like shopping with people you can also talk on the phone or listen to your own music. I normally always bring a pair of earbuds with me.

It's super convenient to use this time to catch up with old friends (or your mom whose phone call you ignored earlier) and can help get you out of your own head.

It also makes it so much easier for me to focus on finding quality pieces because I'm not in such a rush and actually enjoying my time. (Most of my friends don't even realize I'm shopping during our phone calls so I definitely just exposed myself lol).



From my experience, shopping sales will be more beneficial in the long run if you focus on finding staple items that can be worn anytime instead of things that are super trendy at the moment.

Time-less pieces are exactly what they sound like: your basic pieces that will never go out of style regardless of the time or what's super trendy at the moment.

These pieces are the die-hard staples in your closet that you can literally rock until it gives you a reason not to: ie. terrible stain, horrendous rip, or something totally unfixable and heartbreaking.

Think of your classic off the shoulder tops in solid colors, think ripped jeans, think one strap ankle heels - all timeless pieces.


Think of that peplum-style dress that you haven't touched in a year, think denim with sewn-on rose patches (sorry Forever 21), think sequins on... anything. Those where once awesome trends that everyone hopped on but then hopped off just as quickly as soon as they weren't "cool" anymore.

If you like (or wear) any of the items I listed above, power to you. I am not telling you to not buy any pieces that you absolutely love or that may be your style.

All I'm saying is that when you buy pieces that are trendy then as soon as the trend is over those pieces aren't usable anymore. Your sales item pieces tend to go a lot farther when they are time-less. But you know, that's just me. Do as you wish, queen.


#3: write out a budget - and stick to it

This is a major hack. A lot of people come into sales-rack shopping without any type of plan or budget.

This can cause you to waste a lot of time which can be super frustrating if you aren't able to find anything worthwhile.

In addition, sales-rack shopping without a budget can also cause you to spend a lot of money. Just because it's on sale doesn't mean you should go crazy. If you don't come with a plan of how much you want to spend it will be easy for you to over do it, trust me.

Here are 3 ways that you can make sure you're staying within your budget and not defeating the entire purpose of shopping in the sales rack.

3 Ways to Budget for Shopping

1.    Have a total pre-planned budget in your mind that you will not spend pass. This is perfect if you're not shopping for anything specific. For example, "I don't want to spend more than $50.00 today." Therefore, I could literally buy 2 pairs of pants and 1 shirt for $50 or I could buy 50 scrunchies for $50. Doesn't matter, just as long as I don't spend past $50.00.

2.    Set a budget for each individual piece of clothing. This is great if you have certain look in mind that you're trying to get. For example, "I would like to spend no more than $15 on a sweater and $25 on a pair of jeans." And making sure the clothes you’re trying on are around that budget.

3.    Have a list of everything you need/want to shop for before going into the store and commit to only looking at those things. This is great if you are trying to get only one specific thing. For example, "I want to find really nice vests for the fall" and making sure to only go through vests at stores and not get distracted by cute earrings or skirts.


If you find something that you absolutely adore and cannot imagine putting back but its out of your planned budget, always try it on and take it with you to the register. You never know, it could actually be way cheaper than listed! I use to work retail and there were a lot of items on clearance that would ring up cheaper in system than listed! For example, my Steve Madden OTK boots were marked as $20 but when I went to the cash register they rang up as $9! A total steal!

This is also a good time to mention that different stores are better at shopping in sales than others.

Let’s take H&M and Forever 21 as an example.


Not only does H&M have a killer sales rack, but they also do 15% OFF your entire purchase if you bring a bag of donated clothes (about 3+ items) and a matching program. The H&M app allows you to scan the price tag of an item using their app and honors the price if it's cheaper online then they will HONOR THE PRICE! I've literally gotten so many great deals through this.



Forever 21 (aka Forever Twenty-Never when it comes to sales shopping in person). Tread at your own risk. Their physical sales section is normally a mess and even when I do take time to go through it, I end up never finding anything worthwhile. If you're shopping online - by all means! But in person, you're much better off shopping their regular price because 1) prices are pretty affordable and 2) it's waaaay easier to navigate.

Favorite places to shop Clearance

  • H&M

  • Francescas

  • DSW

  • Nordstrom (and the entire Nordstrom Rack store is like on big clearance)

  • Designer outlet stores' clearance items (these are normally from the actual designer store vs the other merchandise in the store that was specifically manufactured to be in the outlet) 



The last thing you want to do is buy something just because it's on sale and not because you genuinely love it.

Trust me. It can be so annoying to have so many pieces in your closet that you barely wear.

Always, always, always remember:

How good of a deal is it if you weren't looking for it in the first place?

It's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of finding clothes at decent prices that sometimes you can get lost in buying something because its an awesome deal vs you actually needing it.

So I always make sure to evaluate every piece of clothing I purchase and say to myself, "If this was listed at full price - would I still be willing to buy it (or at least want it)?" 

And that humbling question, my bumblebees, is what has saved me so much money.

I have literally put back so many "maybe's" which made me appreciate my "yes's" even more!

I also pay very close attention to what I need in my wardrobe. 

So earlier in the week, I may be looking in my closet like "I really think I need to get more quality blouses for work." And let's say I pop into H&M to look for blouses and notice they're having an amazing sale on their coats. 

If I hadn't previously needed or wanted a coat in the near past, then how good of a deal really is it if I got it?

At the end of the day, it's really not about who has the most clothes in their closet or how many colors you have that halter crop top in.

It's about when you go to your closet, do you love what you see and what you have to work with? Or is your closet filled with a whole bunch of "kinda-like" pieces you grabbed because they were on sale.



It's going to be hard for you to find quality pieces if you are rushing through the racks just for the sake of going through them. 

Sometimes you have to think of sale-shopping like thrift-shopping. When you go into a thrift store, you're not really sure what you're going to find. You can look for hours and hit the jackpot or leave absolutely empty-handed. The same goes for the sales rack. Most of the clothes are on sale for a reason which means there are going to be a lot ill-fitting pieces and "who thought these velcro leggings would ever sell" moments.

But in the midst of all the chaos, snug deep in between the ugly sunflower t-shirt and weird-material jumpsuit, is that gem that you actually can't believe made it to the sales rack. Because it's just that good.

But hey, you would've never found it if you had stopped at the sunflower t-shirt, got frustrated and went home. 

So take your time, have patience, and most importantly, have fun! 

Side note --- if you haven't subscribed to my blog yet, drop your shopping bags and do it now to get the latest blog post directly in your inbox! 

Until next time, my bumblebees.

Happy shopping!

- The Corporate Shopper


Proverbs 31:25

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.


LifestyleMandu M.Comment