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How to Refresh Your Back-to-Work Wardrobe on Any Budget

What to buy if you want to spend $150, $300, or $600 on your back-to-office wardrobe.

By Madeleine Kim

If you’re one of the many Americans preparing to return to the office in the near future, you may be wondering: What in the world am I supposed to wear? Sure, you’re going to the same office you hastily left fifteen months ago when you thought you’d be back in two weeks, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to revert back to the same dress code. 

One pandemic and many pairs of sweatpants later, the way we think about workwear has changed—and that’s a good thing. You have a chance to rewrite the rules of your wardrobe, throwing out the ones that no longer serve you and dressing with intention for the person you are now.

But here’s the thing: Updating your wardrobe can get expensive, especially if you don’t have extra time to devote to deal-hunting. To make things easier, we put together a guide on what you should buy for your wardrobe refresh, depending on how much you want to spend. These are the investments we believe will have the biggest impact on your wardrobe.

If you want to spend $150…

When you’re on a budget, it’s best to prioritize the essentials. Getting the Marilyn dress in galaxy blue (currently on sale for $50) is kind of like getting two dresses for the price of one: it looks great without a belt for a relaxed fit, but if you add a belt, like the Greenwich Avenue (currently on sale for $15), it feels like a completely different dress. The Oshima pants in black (currently on sale for $80) are another excellent choice. Comfy, stretchy, and polished, they’re super versatile and look good with everything from sneakers and flats to booties. Bonus: the Marilyn dress and Oshima pants are machine-washable, so you’ll save on dry-cleaning, too.

If you want to spend $300…

Pick one super-special item to splurge on, then find a few versatile, on-sale styles that will give you the most bang for your buck. The Nejvi top in Olympic blue ($145) should be your splurge item: the bold color will make you excited for the day, and the cut is surprisingly easy to style (tuck it, untuck it, wear it with a jacket—you can’t go wrong). Next, scoop up the Felisa dress in brick red (currently on sale for $70), which, fair warning, you may also want in the other two colors once you try it on. Finally, the Sant Ambroeus jardigan in ecru (currently on sale for $80) will be the piece you reach for almost daily, whether with your new dress, or to elevate your jeans and T-shirts.

If you want to spend $600…

Focus on buying pieces that pair with one another to maximize your outfit options. Start with a great pair of slim and stretchy pants, like the Shaw pants in galaxy blue (currently on sale for $100), which you could wear with anything from a T-shirt to a matching blazer. You’ll also want to have a go-to top that’s polished but not too formal. The Rowling top in alabaster ($145) is just the thing. Next, you can’t go wrong with a classic little black dress, and when the stretchy Katie dress is on sale for only $50, it’s a no-brainer. All of these pieces will look great topped with the Merritt jardigan in latte ($225), which one customer recently wore for the first time, only to receive 13 consecutive compliments (“No joke, all different people. People on the street are asking me where I got it.”). Finally, your wardrobe refresh wouldn’t be complete without a bit of accessorizing. The Claressa earrings in silver ($75) are simultaneously on-trend and classic—the ultimate combo.

Madeleine Kim

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is a Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

See more of Madeleine's articles

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