The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Ask BB: The Best Business Pants on a Budget

New York & Co. at ShopStyle

I recently lost a substantial amount of weight (35 lbs) and went from a size 12 to a 6. So you can imagine, my old clothes are tad too big. … I need to buy new pants for the office. I literally have one pair of black pants that actually look normal on me, and I just want to be able to get the same (or very similar) style, cut and price for all colors (like grays, blacks, pin-stripes etc.) so I can be sure of how they will fit all at once. Places like TJ’s and Marshall’s are hit and miss with these kinds of things and I REFUSE to pay $60 for a pair of black or gray slacks at places like Express, Limited or NY&Co. I worked very hard for this weight loss, so I want to be able to wear a size that is true to my body, instead of forcing my old clothes to fit by awkward alterations and belts, but I never realized how expensive it could actually be! Help!! —Swimming in Old Office Slacks.

First off, congratulations on your weight loss: You set a goal, and you reached it! This accomplishment is certainly worth celebrating, but I understand how expensive it can be to build a new wardrobe basically from scratch. Fortunately, I think there are many places where you can shop for affordable, office-appropriate pants.

My top four picks? New York & Company, Express, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft. Now I know you mentioned that you're not willing to shell out $60 a pop for pants at two of the aforementioned stores (neither would I), however, both New York & Company and Express have amazing online shops and sales galore (blame or thank the recession for that!). You can find classic, chic pants for under $50 a pair, usually less, especially when combined with special promos and coupons. As for Banana and Ann Talor Loft, I recommend stalking the sales and checking out their outlet stores.

The key will be finding the right fit, so try on as many pairs as necessary, then buy in bulk once you find the perfect pair. That's the other great thing about the stores I mentioned: They offer many colors/fabrications in each of their signature cuts. Below, I've gathered together 12 pairs of pants under $50 from the stores I mentioned. (Click any image for more info.)

I'd also recommend checking out the work pants at H&M, which carries great business casual attire, suits and pants that I'd say average about $39.50/pair.

Readers: Where do you shop for inexpensive work-appropriate pants?

It's all BR for work pants here in my world. They last, they fit, they're stylish. And my local shop does free alterations on full-priced pants, which eases the pain of ponying up!
#1 Sal (Homepage) on 2009-03-09 16:19 (Reply)
Check out the NY&Co. sales! Last time I checked, they had really good deals on busines pants. But the splurge will be worth it if you wear the pants all the time, since the quality is guaranteed.
#2 Jacki (Homepage) on 2009-03-09 17:42 (Reply)
I think the Express pants are great. I own about 7 pairs of them, and they are worth the $60 you would pay for them if you can't find them on sale or find a coupon. I have one pair of black trousers (the Editor pant) that have lasted me a good 6-7 years. They also dewrinkle without much work, which is something that pleases me to no end, especially when I'm fishing them out of the hamper on Monday morning.
#3 Lynda on 2009-03-09 18:44 (Reply)
If i don't want to try on a million styles/cuts, i know my size at Express is always a perfect bet. They also wear very well... I've had some of mine since senior yr of HS (6 yrs) and they're just so classic they don't go out of style.

besides Express, definitely H&M for cheap, clean cuts in work attire/suits/dress pants. I really like their slim cut cotton/sateen finish pants with boots. my coworker and i are definitely on tight budgets & we love their skirts/pants. cheap too! She got 2 pencil skirts and another pair of those pants for $50!
#4 steffanie on 2009-03-09 20:35 (Reply)
Thank you so much! This was so helpful!!
#5 DY on 2009-03-09 21:19 (Reply)
Believe it or not I often find great work pants at Walmart or Target! They usually run around $20 or less! Plus, they also have different lengths and since I am 5'4" the short length is perfect and doesn't require any hemming!
#6 Jemma on 2009-03-09 21:24 (Reply)
i just graduated from college and went to NY&co looking for business clothes to wear and i lucked out! they were having a massive sale on a HUGE selection of amazing blazers, pants, dresses,shirts, etc....i honestly got 11 pieces of clothing (6 blazers 3 pants and a shirt) for 87 dollars!! all of the pieces were $9.99 and after opening a credit card there i got 10% off!!!!!

great deals and they also carry petite and tall pants!
#7 alison (Homepage) on 2009-03-09 22:40 (Reply)
Think quality, not quantity. But the nicest you can afford and seek out a great sale. Also, fit is key. Bring the shoes you normally wear to work so that the hem works. You should also buy a pair for heels and one for flats. But pants can last for several seasons so go for the expensive ones on sale.
#7.1 Sara on 2009-03-09 22:57 (Reply)
I know it sounds crazy, but on a whim a couple years ago I bought some slacks at Walmart! They were gray glen plaid pants, I got so many compliments it was crazy! My sister bought some, and even my boss at work told me how nice they were, if you need a quick fix, before you can invest in a quality pair, check some out, you never know!
#8 Liz on 2009-03-09 23:12 (Reply)
Old Navy sometimes have nice affordable dress slacks. Maurices has a nice office appropriate line, and NY&Co does have AMAZING sales. Sometimes, there stuff is $7.99. I mean, what a steal!! As Liz mentioned, I have seen cute slacks at Wal-Mart, Target, and even K-Mart. There is a store called Cato's which caters to plus-sized women, but they also have some stores that aren't plus-sized. Good Luck and Congrats on the weight loss!!
#9 Nicole on 2009-03-09 23:33 (Reply)
In Canada I find great work clothes at Reitmans. I usually have to deal with the waist gap issue on my pants, and Reitmans pants don't gap for me. They also have different cuts, and plus/petite/regular all in the same store. I hope I don't sound too much like a commercial.
#10 Christine on 2009-03-10 09:54 (Reply)
I have several pairs of slacks from Target. Some are Merona and others are Mossimo Black. In general they fit nicely and have held up extremely well (on one pair, a hem came out after 1 year of wear but I am willing to spend the $5-10 at a tailor to redo it). My big advice would be if you find a pair that fits you really well, try it on in every color and consider buying them all at once. I have found that the cuts change slightly from season to season and some fit me better than others. I get compliments on mine all the time :-)
#11 al on 2009-03-10 11:52 (Reply)
Try JC Penny's (or, as it is affectionatly nicknamed: 'Jacque Penne'). I've found great basic pants there many times over the year....including yesterday! Two tops, two pairs of pants, and a purse...$100. Would have been less but I didn't have a coupon.
#12 Christine on 2009-03-10 12:15 (Reply)
My staple work pants are from the Gap. I LOVE the fit for me and the length as well. The majority of my pants are actually from the Gap outlet.. usually costing about $30 or so. Definitely afforable as well as having a vast selection in sizes!
#13 Vanessa on 2009-03-10 15:13 (Reply)
Can you get to a decent sized, slightly upscale mall? With bigger sized stores?

Clearance pants at Banana were as low as $19.99 lots of black and grey. Nordstrom rack has also has had tons of basics in.

I think if you can go in person you can find much better deals than you can online. At a 6 also if there were any shops there that sold sample sizes you could get greatdeals. Miner miracle in SF sells Ann Taylor and loft stuff at a big discount.
#14 mothbeast on 2009-03-11 00:09 (Reply)
If you didn't say NY & Co I would have had to! Their pants are great, usually with some Lycra so that they are very forgiving and they also have great sales. Sometimes it's even best to get a size smaller because of that give. If you sign up on their site for emails, you will frequently get 20% off coupons that you can use when they aren't on sale.
#15 lsaspacey (Homepage) on 2009-03-14 09:31 (Reply)
The Limited often has dress pants for 35-40 in their sale section. I recently became a size 2 (up from 0)so NY&Co never worked for me. I will check them out and see if I can actually fit into their clothes now. Thanks for the tip!
#16 Vic on 2009-10-25 11:28 (Reply)
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