The Budget Babe | Affordable Fashion & Style Blog

Ask BB: What to Wear to an FBI Graduation Ceremony

Business casual outfit ideas

I've never been to Washington D.C. and have no idea what the weather will be like towards the end of March, so packing ideas would be appreciated. On top of it I will be attending an FBI graduation ceremony and have NO idea what is appropriate and stylish. I was thinking long dress? Am I waaay off? —JS

March weather in D.C. can be unpredictable (if you live there, please feel free to chime in) so you'll want to dress in layers. Temperatures might climb into the 50s but you need to prepare for high 30s, too. I'd pack some sweaters and a trench coat, dark jeans and comfortable flats as well as boots that you won't mind getting wet.

For outfit ideas and inspiration, you might also want to check out some D.C. fashion bloggers. I recommend Wardrobe Oxygen and High Fashion 4 Less, two ladies who know how to look amazing on a budget.

As for the FBI graduation ceremony, I have never been to such an affair so I put my feelers out on Twitter and my savvy readers tell me the dress code is "business dress." This roughly translates to a pants suit or a dress and blazer. I think as a guest you can have fun with color, prints and accessories so long as the cuts are conservative (think sheath dresses, pencil skirts and such).

What advice would you give JS? Let her know in the comments!

{Shown above: Some sample looks created using H&M's virtual dressing room, ranging from casual (for sightseeing) to a business-casual graduation ceremony.}

Derek Lam for Kohl's: The Complete Lookbook (Continued)

Derek Lam for DesigNation exclusively at Kohl's Lookbook

Here's the second installment of the Derek Lam for DesigNation exclusively at Kohl's collection lookbook, launching in April at Kohl's stores and online at The lookbook is divided into two parts: The first part is styled with a younger, cooler slant (in my opinion), while this second half showcases the extensive collection in a more mature manner - I see these pieces as being more office-appropriate and aimed at a slightly older audience. Featuring dresses and separates in a palette of mostly cobalt blue, black, and white, this affordable line seems made for easy mixing and matching.

Some items are downright pedestrian, to borrow a word from Project Runway judge Zac Posen, like the pleated black pants or the silver button down shirt and black pencil skirt look. Very confusing. Other items are totally cute and sexy, like the colorblock dresses, and still others show Lam's unique design vision, such as the boxy chambray jacket and skirt set. Sizing ranges from xs-xl or 2-16, and the most expensive piece is an $88 maxi dress. Most pieces are much less. Unfortunately the shoes are not part of this collection.

Which pieces can you see yourself wearing?

Derek Lam for Kohl's: See the Complete Lookbook with Prices Here

Derek Lam for Kohl's Lookbook Image 1

The complete Derek Lam for Kohl's lookbook is here, and it is so good! Can you believe this is Kohl's?! Coming April 5th, we'll have our choice of apparel and swimwear from the acclaimed designer priced at just $36 to $88. Lam's inspiration for these spring must-haves was the city of Rio de Janeiro, and you can see it plays out in the prints, styles and details. My favorite two pieces are the striped dresses (see below) but there's so much good stuff going on here. It's modern and cool but has a certain warmth to it, and all the pieces seem very wearable. I've gotten to preview a few pieces in person (here) and think the quality is good and reflects the pricepoints. I don't plan on paying full price either. The debut DesigNation designer's collection, Narciso Rodriguez, made it to the clearance racks at the two Kohl's stores near me so I'm not worried.

Click through to see all the looks, and check back later for part two. Mouse over any image for pricing and availability.

Rent Dresses from Anthropologie, ASOS and More at

A review of dress rentals

Recently I had the chance to test out, a "Netflix for Dresses" company that allows you to rent affordable dresses that you would find in stores like Anthropologie, ASOS, Modcloth, and more. Lendperk's cheapest plan is $20/month for one dress rental every month. For $34 per month, you can rent 2 dresses and $49 per month gets you unlimited dress rentals.

There's a 9 day free trial where you can check out one dress during this period for free to test out the service. It's a month to month subscription service and you can cancel anytime. Shipping and returns are free, and you can also choose to roll over your rental from one month to the next if you don't think you're going to rent anything.

For the purpose of my review, I got to rent the dress of my choice in two sizes. I got special treatment because I'm pregnant and a blogger, but because of my growing bump, the dress I chose didn't work out for me in either size. Putting that aside, the service was great - I got my dresses delivered within 3 days, complete with a thoughtful note and small treat (candy). To return my dresses, all I had to do was pack them up in the prepaid shipping envelope that was included in my order and leave it by my front door for the mail carrier to pick up. Easy, peasy!

Shop Pearl by Georgina Chapman of Marchesa for JCP Now, Plus See My Top Picks

My top picks from the Marchesa for JCPenney dress collection

I just discovered that Pearl by Georgina Chapman of Marchesa for JCP has launched a few days early, without much fanfare, over at Hooray?! Dive in and see for yourself over at, there's a nice selection of cheap prom dresses, special occasion separates (lace shorts anyone?) and flirty cocktail dresses, all priced under $250.

Here are my favorite pieces so far based on images I've seen online:

  1. Strapless embellished dress ($110): Anyone who's ever had to look for affordable bridesmaid dresses knows it's no easy task, which is why I think this beautiful blue evening gown would be perfect for a wedding. It's also available in a nude peachy color that's just as gorgeous but might be more appropriate for prom or another special occasion (maybe even a bride!).

  2. Rosette applique tulle dress ($110): I love the tea length skirt on this dress and light spring blue. The rosette detailing is bold and embodies a sense of whimsy that's so Marchesa.

  3. Long organza gown ($250): This is definitely the pièce de résistance of the collection - a full skirted, floor length sartorial confection that's ultra feminine and over the top. This might even work as a bridal gown! Love it.

  4. High-low sequin dress ($140): There's something sophisticated yet edgy about this dress which draws me to it. Although I'm not crazy about that centered slit, the dramatic plunge on the back of this dress more than makes up for it.

  5. One shoulder polka-dot dress ($110): This dress could go horribly wrong or magnificently right, I'd have to try it on to know for certain, but I'm loving the Marchesa aesthetic of excess at play here, from the ruffles to the oversized bow. If you can work it, go for it!

Which pieces could you see yourself wearing? Has anyone seen these pop up in stores yet?