Cheapskate: Style Wars – The Office

When they’re not busy at work (which is most of the time) the Asian Persuasion and the Anti-Couric like to “window shop” on the interwebs, harassing each other with links via gchat and asking things like “Can I pull this off?” or “Would this make my boobs look enormous?” Rather than just letting them waste hours of their life shopping for things they are never going to buy we thought we would challenge them to out bargain shop each other. We give them something to dress for, then send them off to the stores (or internet) to put together an ensemble. They can’t shop at WalMart or thrift stores, and they have to buy something they would actually wear. Otherwise, as long as someone in CT could conceivably buy the outfit, everything is on the table.

Asian Persuasion

My workplace is definitely more formal than the Anti-Couric’s so I’ve learned to love some of the nicer stores like Banana Republic and J. Crew for work, but not their prices. The Anti-Couric might call me a snob about certain places for clothes (I don’t do Old Navy and Target is only for socks or workout stuff). Since I do work in non-profits (meaning my paycheck is also non-profit),  I tend to shop sales, wait for free shipping, and then buy a few things I can wear a lot.

For this challenge, I went for nice Ann Taylor pants (their petites fit me well) for $39.99 with free shipping.  I also shop through Ebates, so I get 3% cash back on this which makes them really $38.79…not a huge savings but every bit counts. Ann’s stuff fits me well and everything I’ve gotten there has lasted for years–and less than $40 for work pants that didn’t come from Target is pretty damn good in my book.

I went for this sweater on sale at Ann Taylor Loft, which was $19.99 with 30% off…making it a mere $14.99. I love the autumny color that will go really well with the pants. The button detail makes the sweater look a little nicer also. It might not be as good quality as the pants but again, it’ll probably last longer than similarly priced sweaters at a…well, less classy store.

As far as shoes go, I tend to go boring. I hate heels, but being only 5 feet tall, they are a necessity if I want anyone to take me seriously at work. I go basic and comfy so I can wear them just about all the time, but I also don’t mind buying shoes that are a little more expensive…but not paying the price. Recently, I had my eye on these girls which are just a variation on the shoes I’ve had for 2 years (making them worth every cent). Spending $60 on shoes is not very cheapskate-y although I do understand that for a lot of women, a couple hundred dollars is acceptable. This concept is foreign to me. Anyway, I waited until the shoes were on special for $50, Ebates had 6% back on DSW and used to $10 DSW rewards certificate, a $5 birthday credit and free shipping. So, net cost on the shoes was $32.60.


As our Asian friend pointed out, my office doesn’t exactly insist on proper business attire. Why, just last Friday I wore a hoodie and yoga pants to work, but I don’t normally look like that big of a mess. I had been traveling the past couple of days and don’t usually go into the office on Fridays so I figured I could get away with basically wearing my pajamas. Most days I do put on jeans. But for the purposes of this assignment I’ll pretend like I at least pretend to be business casual.

For the top half of my ensemble I‘m picking a shirt I actually bought recently from Gap. It’s basically a long-sleeved t-shirt with a cowl neck. The nice thing, though, is that your co-workers (hopefully) don’t touch you often enough to realize it’s a t-shirt and instead see only the fancy neck — and cowl screams “BUSINESS CASUAL” to me. The shirt is only $19.50 and ordering it on Ebates will get you 8% back (for a limited time), making it $17.94. If you buy anything from the Gap Inc. stores on Tuesdays with your store credit card you get 10% off, so you could actually take another $1.80 off that price.

Since Gap was offering 8% back I decided to stick with them for my pant shopping. Normally, I’d just wear jeans but I figured khakis were probably more appropriate for this challenge. For $44 — plus, basically, 18% off if you use Ebates and the Tuesday deal making the actual price $36.08 — you can get a decent, basic pair of classic khakis.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any free shipping tricks for you, so you’ll be paying about $7 if you don’t find a special deal. Though, I believe, if you manage to spend $50 using your card you get free shipping. But frankly, if you sign up for emails from these companies you get special deals just about every day and you can probably get free shipping, 40% off, or a cashier’s first born child if you just wait long enough. Or you could just go to the store and not bother with Ebates.

Unlike our diminutive Asian friend, I pretty much only wear heels when I’m getting dressed up. They just don’t fit my lifestyle — it’s hard to leave your office in the middle of the day to walk pound dogs when you’re in stilettos. I’m prone to wearing boots, flip-flops, and what I refer to as “foreign people shoes” on the average day at work. Once in awhile I wear the $7 cowboy boots the AP and I found at Bob’s after I took a train home in inclement weather and the shoes I had on got soaked. Those boots are awesome but I won’t be able to find a similar deal now. I did, however, find these flats, which appear to be fleece-lined like the slippers I keep under my desk for $29.95.