Whether you are entering the workforce or getting ready for a summer internship between semesters, starting a new job often requires starting a new wardrobe. The cost of acquiring a full week’s worth of skirts, blouses, slacks and shoes can be overwhelming, especially in today’s economy. Our mothers used to advise us to buy one or two “investment pieces,” usually a cashmere sweater or fabulous blazer, which is still good advice today. But how do we buy the rest of what is needed without busting our budget? We decided to go shopping to find out.
This week, we visited H&M, the department store that got its start in Sweden and has become a worldwide phenomenon. When it first opened in New York several years ago, H&M was the place where teenagers shopped for cheap, trendy clothes and accessories. While the store is still a big draw for teens, it has also become a place where women (and men) of all ages can find well-priced clothing for most occasions.
As soon as we entered the H&M store on Lexington and 59th Street, we could tell the store had changed its focus from glitzy club wear to more classic styles with flair. The front of the store was filled with skirts, blouses, short blazers all in coordinating shades of tans, pinks and this season’s hot color, tomato. The blouses were made of handkerchief linen with feminine pin tucks and cost no more than $29.00. The skirts, which come in a variety of lengths from short to knee-skimming were available in tan, coral or a flattering floral print and cost no more than $40. We skimmed the sale rack and found a coordinating pale pink cardigan and tank for $12 each and they looked great with a $39 floral skirt. In the back of the store, striped cardigans, blue pin striped blouses and grey trousers also offered an alternative for work, and all were less than $39.
H&M was also well stocked with spring coats, all priced at $59. We loved a belted trench coat with full-skirted bottom in stone or coral. When a slightly dressier coat is required, the cotton pique coats in stone, tomato or black are well tailored and easily go from day to night.
Overall, we like H&M for any woman on a budget (and who isn’t) who needs to fill the gaps in her wardrobe.