A few weeks ago, I traveled to Raleigh (about two and a half hours away) to attend a class. Attorneys have to earn “continuing legal education” credit each year in order to continue practicing law. I was going to be in Raleigh for three days, so I packed a couple of suits, a dress, heels, coats, everything I needed for the trip. I put most of my clothing into a garment bag so I wouldn’t have to worry about ironing or steaming anything once I arrived.
Much to my chagrin, after checking into my hotel room at 10PM the night before work and class, I realized that I left my entire garment bag in my apartment — two and a half hours away. I needed to be ready by 9:30 the next morning. Unfortunately, the only clothing in my suitcase was a pair of jeans, leggings, and a t-shirt. Not exactly my best Olivia Pope-inspired outfit.
I needed three outfits for my trip. Thank God, I packed my heels and jewelry in my suitcase so I only needed to find clothing. Here’s how I found the clothes I needed in time to make it to all of my classes and work commitments:
Obviously, the mall wasn’t open early enough for me to find an outfit and make my 9:30AM deadline. I don’t know any boutiques or cute little shops that are open early enough either. So, to Target I drove! The local Target was open by 8 in the morning. I was in the parking lot at 7:55AM.
I had a plan when I walked through the bright red doors at Target. It’s incredibly difficult to find clothes that fit me right off the rack. Almost every article of business attire I own has been altered by a tailor. Thanks to my former days as a track and field athlete, my thighs are a size 4 to 10 depending on the brand and the rest of me is a size 0 to a size 4. One article of clothing that is pretty easy to fit, though, is a dress. I wanted to find a sheath dress that I could wear with a blazer and a belt around my waist (in case the waist area of the dress was a little loose, as it typically is for me).
I didn’t find it.
There wasn’t a single formal business dress in the entire store that fit me. This particular Target was starving for size 4 sheath dresses. There were, however, plenty of plus-size dresses (so, definitely head to Target if you are a curvy woman… seriously, their stuff is cute).
Plan B: search for pants, a blouse, and a blazer. Thankfully, I found a pair of black pants that were — surprisingly — the right length and mostly the right size. There weren’t any size 4’s in this particular style of black dress slacks, so I had to choose between a size 2 and a size 6. I hate having pants sag or having the weird bunching thing around my waist when I use a belt for pants that are too big. I chose the size 2 pants.
Since my pants were a little snug on my hips and backside, I grabbed a sweater that was long enough to cover me and a black windowpane-print blouse. Frankly, I didn’t feel great about the outfit, but it worked well enough. My first day wasn’t incredibly busy and I knew I wouldn’t see too many people from my office. I was content with my clothing choices for day one.
Blouse: Target (here, $17.48)
Sweater: Target (here, $20)
Slacks: Target (here, $24.99)
I had enough time after my first day to head to the mall for some items that would last through my final couple of days in Raleigh. The pants I bought from Target stretched a good deal from me sitting in them all day: I knew I’d be able to wear them again on my second day without needing a sweater to cover up. I picked up a blouse from H&M and, just like that, I had an outfit for my second day. I must warn you, though, this blouse is almost too green. Christmas green. I like it. I felt like Christmas (lol) seriously though, it brightened my mood. I’d buy it again if given the chance, but certainly steer clear if this green is too green for you.
Blouse: H&M (here, $24.99)
While shopping at the mall, I found my unicorn. Yes, what I thought would never happen, happened. I found a suit that fit me right off the rack. I went to Express and found this navy blazer and pencil skirt. The suit is incredibly comfortable because of the small amount of stretch in it and the fabric Express used. I paired the suit with a white blouse that I snagged off the sale rack at Ann Taylor (careful with this blouse. It’s a little low-cut and can be dangerous if you have a larger bust than I).
Blazer: Express (here, $64.80)
Pencil Skirt: Express (here, $35.94)
Blouse: Ann Taylor (here, $49.99)
In total, I spent around $300 (not all of these items were on sale when I bought them. Ugh.). I figured out how to make it through three days without any professional clothes while being a little price-sensitive. I’d gone shopping two weekends in a row right before this trip and I’d spent much more than I intended both times *sob*. Fortunately, I survived the few days that I was out of town and I’ll, hopefully, never again forget my entire garment bag at home.
Yours in the struggle,