“A Girl Who Struggles”: Here's How Easy it Can Be to Look Amazing on a Budget

work attire on a budget.png
Get used to me slaying lewks because I am an excellent thrift shopper.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter

Spoiler alert: Every single piece of clothing in this post is work-appropriate, super chic, and under $50. 👊

Hey fellow working women! You know what I like to do? I like to wear clothes to work. Don’t you? Yeah I thought so. I also like to wear clothes that are, you know, appropriate for my job. Now, I’m lucky in that the digital marketing and design company I work for has a casual dress code, so I don’t have to worry about dressing super corporate and professional on a daily basis.

But many women - say, women who work in Congress - do have to adhere to a corporate dress code. Which is what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - the youngest woman to be elected to Congress - has been doing in her first days at her incredible new job. She’s been rocking what pretty much any woman in her environment would be rocking; blazers, coats, pencil skirts, slacks. The usual.

And most of us know by now what her perfectly normal choice in attire has been met with a predictable onslaught of criticism, derision, and downright creepiness from men, specifically with that gross tweet from Eddie Scarry, which he included a photo of Ocasio-Cortez taken from behind (ew) and stated, “Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now. I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.”

Ugh. Of course there’s a lot to be said about the blatant sexism in Scarry’s tweet, as well as its far-reaching attempt at painting Ocasio-Cortez as some kind of hypocrite for having the audacity to look nice at work while simultaneously standing up as champion of the average, struggling working American.

This article by Megan Garber at The Atlantic and this roundup of Tweets on The Cut do a wonderful job of analyzing and/or making fun of the socioeconomic, political, and gender-biased implications of Scarry’s stupid Tweet. If you want a good, fiery mic-drop read, I highly recommend them.

Since Moda Misfit is a style blog, what I can offer here is an angle which points out the cluelessness of so many men when it comes to women’s fashion (and if you haven’t read any other Moda Misfit posts, the word “fashion” here is synonymous with the self-expression, self-esteem, freedom, and individuality of women).

Fashion is not a trivial thing in this context, my friends. Men’s perception of women’s fashion and beauty is indicative of a larger lack of understanding when it comes to women and the way we choose to live our lives, right down to the way we choose to adorn our bodies and paint our faces.

When it comes to Scarry’s tweet about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s awesome outfit, I see an opportunity to demonstrate how EASY it is to put together an inexpensive professional outfit that looks expensive. Which is likely exactly what the self-proclaimed “excellent thrift shopper” Ocasio-Cortez did.

Who knows how much Ocasio-Cortez’s outfit that day cost. And really, who cares? Maybe she splurged on some new, nice clothes for her amazing new job as the youngest woman to be elected to Congress. Or maybe she bought her outfit at her favorite thrift shop or at H&M - ladies, we all know how possible it is to look like a million bucks when we actually only spent a few at H&M.

Basically what I’d like to say to all women, is that what matters is what you do in your gorgeous outfit and how it makes you feel, not how much you spend on it. Whether you work at Wall Street or at home, in tech or retail, at Costco or Congress, wear whatever the fuck you want within your workplace’s dress code. Spend whatever the fuck you want to spend.

And if you want to spend under $50 on a new gorgeous piece of professional clothing for work, then follow me through this list, girl!



This post contains a few affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, at no extra cost to my lovely readers. I only link the things I love!

Let’s go shopping for budget friendly work clothes together, shall we? Let’s hit H&M first!

Jersey Jacket, $34.99 | H&M

Onward to Amazon!

Side note: Is anyone else getting some strong Peggy Olson from Mad Men style vibes with that dress? ☝️And we all know how much of a workplace badass she ended up being. 🙌🙌🙌

And obviously we need to hit Zara for a sec…

Peplum Lace Blazer, $49.90 | Zara

More Peggy Olsen vibes with that last one, am I right?

Okay let’s finish things off at Nordstrom Rack.

Lush Novak Crepe Blazer, $29.97 (originally $58.00) | Nordstrom Rack

I could seriously go on and on - there is no shortage of nice yet totally affordable workwear out there. And it’s very likely that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s outfits have been just as budget-friendly as these pieces of clothing. And if they weren’t, to hell with it.

The moral of the story here is that it is indeed possible for women to have opinions, take a stand for something, and do amazing work while being fully clothed at the same time.✌️

P.S. If you want to stay up to date on all the interior decor, fashion, and music stuff on Moda Misfit, click here to subscribe to the newsletter! A Moda Misfit email is like getting a nice little treat in your inbox. When you’re in need of a good, hearty dose of inspiration, I’m here for you. ♥︎


Hey there! I’m Steffi, creator of Moda Misfit - a lifestyle blog that aims to inspire you to embrace who you are and express your creative self through decor, fashion, & music. We're all Moda Misfits here!

Let’s hang out on Instagram! @moda.misfit

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