Five Back-To-Work Outfits For Under Fifty Dollars

I was lucky enough to be able to make the decision to stay at home as long as I did with the kids until they reached school age. Blogging and writing assisted this, true, but it wasn’t an easy choice.

Then the opportunity came along for my current role and as I talked about it on the school playground I was overwhelmed by the response from many of my friends: that they had been in a similar situation, waiting until their youngest was in school before going back to work, and some had already been on the lookout for a long time.

It’s been ten years since I was out of the traditional workforce. In my old position I dressed corporately, was used to spending nine hours on my feet in high heels, occasionally with a walkie talkie or an earpiece in my ear during a big function. Thing is, those clothes are long gone and even if I’d kept them many wouldn’t fit anymore.

Such times like this are when I turn to Savers. Yes, I could walk into Myers or David Jones and pull a pair of black pants off the rack for fifty, eighty, one-hundred dollars or I could go into Savers and get a complete outfit for less. Nothing against doing things the former way – as I have myself  – but when there’s a family at home, with kids wanting to participate in after school activites, then priorities are brought to the fore.

So I issued myself a challenge. I went to my cupboard and pulled out a few items I’d already bought from Savers, plus I went over to my local store to do a bit of scouting about, and I put together these five outfits to show you that going back to work needn’t be stressful (in the clothing sense, at least!) or a major financial consideration.

Here’s what I came up with:

  country road outfit

White Very Very top, size 8: $12.99
Brown Country Road pants, size 8: $9.99
Chunky skull bracelet: $4.99
Total: $27.97

I wear these pants on average once, sometimes twice, a week. They are amazingly comfortable and can be dressed up or down, as the saying goes. The top is beautiful to wear.

review outfit

Black Review pants, size 8: $14.99
Chelsea Design Top, size 8: $7.99
Necklace: $4.99
Total: 27.97 

I’ve always found it hard to buy black pants. I think it’s because I’m short, maybe. However these are great, even if buying straight leg pants is straying into dangerous territory, thanks to my pear-shape.

Jacqui E outfit

Brown Jacqui:E skirt, size 8: $11.99
White Witchery top, size 12: $11.99
Total: $23.98 

The Witchery top is a size too big for me, so I have to wear it tucked in, otherwise it looks a bit tent-esque. This is a lovely skirt, although is very dangerous to wear in the city whenever one of Melbourne’s surprise gusts of wind turns up to blow through. I’ve accidentally flashed many a pedestrian.

Witchery outfit

Blue Witchery dress, size 10: $24.99
Pendant: $7.99 (There were two side-by-side and I couldn’t decide, so got both!)
Total: $32.98 

A well lived-in dress, I just love it. Not sure if it will transition into winter all that successfully (opaque stockings or no opaque stockings), but time will tell.

Banana Republic outfit

Banana Republic dress, size 4: $34.99
Brown cardigan (no label or size): $8.99
Total: $43.98 

I don’t feel all that comfortable in this dress: it cuts across my thighs and does nothing for my boobs. I think I was seduced by the Banana Republic label, which will teach me a well-deserved lesson about forgetting about all that stuff and focusing first on fit. The cardigan – which if you think looks like a suit-ish jacket, you’d be right – is marvellous.


You’ll note I didn’t add in the cost of the shoes and that’s because I’m assuming there’s a pair of nude or black heels (or flats) the cupboard for many of you. But in other Thrifty Thursday posts I’ve gotten shoes that would still enable me to squeak in under the fifty dollar mark, so there’s that.

Next time you go thrift shopping, perhaps you might pick up some bargains too!


Photos: Sarah White.

This post has been written as part of the ‘Thrifty Thursday’ partnership I have with Savers Australia – The Recycle Superstore in 2012. 

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Karen Andrews is the creator of Karen Andrews. This is one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country and is a two-time finalist in the Best Australian Blogs competition. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Is an exercise junkie (when she finds the time).


  1. Liz says

    Oh I wish we had a savers here! We have plenty of charity shops, but savers is in a league of its own! You look fab in all those things; I particularly like the blue dress with tights- very swish :)

  2. B + M + L x 2 says

    Oh you look fabulous K!! Love the photos (I bet Keira does too), how did it feel being a model for a day 😉 I know I keep saying this, but next time I come to visit you MUST take me to Savers!!! Gotta love a bargain, or ten…

  3. says

    These are great outfits for work. Love the black pants and the Jacqui E skirt. This brought back memories of my own Melbourne skirt + unexpected gusts = hello world, here is my underwear experience. It looks lovely on you though.

    I so, so wish there was a Savers in Sydney. Very envious of all of you who have one near you!
    Katherine recently posted..Snaps: Bunny TalesMy Profile

  4. Shelly says

    I’m always a little envious of people who get to dress up and wear pretty outfits and shoes for work. Our work at preschool has a set uniform: White shirt and black pants. 5 days a week. For ever. And the shirts need to fairly replacable (cheap) as I can guarantee purple paint does not come out. I like the third and last outfits best, although all are very pretty.

  5. says

    i see many of my colleagues who look amazing with their clothing. i don’t know how they manage to do so with very few bucks. even i wanted to do the same. but i could not find good clothes for less money. i really liked the way you explained how to get good work outfits for under 50$. nice post.
    kimberly recently posted..Scar revision -complete guide to scar revisionMy Profile

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