How to Dress Professionally Without Breaking the Bank

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

That’s the mantra meant to motivate employees to dress their best at work if they hope to climb the ladder of corporate success. But for many just stepping on the first few rungs, the small paychecks are not enough to revolutionize their wardrobe.

Enter clothing rental subscriptions, an increasingly common way to keep your work wardrobe fresh and professional without dropping hundreds at designer outlets every few months.

Clothing rental subscriptions are hassle-free and surprisingly affordable. Consider upping your fashion game at work with one of these subscription boxes — you’ll stay on top of your budget and still look amazing.


7 Subscription Box Services


Frank and Oak

The Frank and Oak monthly subscription starts with a style survey that gives the team of stylists an idea of what you wear at the office — or would if you could afford it. Each month, these stylists will put together a box of three recommended pieces for you (though you can customize it if there’s something else you want). Try them on at home and only keep what you love.

You can skip a month without any fees and cancel at any time. Frank and Oak also has a monthly style plan for men.

What you’ll pay: $25 monthly styling fee. This fee can be applied to any item(s) you decide to keep.


Dia & Co

The structure of the Dia & Co subscription box is similar to that of Frank and Oak, except Dia carries sizes 14 and up exclusively. With a monthly subscription to Dia & Co, you’ll get five pieces, handpicked by a team of stylists who have reviewed your profile. Like Frank and Oak, you’ll pay only for what you love and can ship the rest back.

What you’ll pay: $20 monthly styling fee. This fee can be applied to any item(s) you decide to keep, plus you’ll get 25% off when you buy everything.


The Mr. & Mrs. Collection

One of the only plans on this list that creates styles for women and men, The Mr. & Mrs. Collection offers flexible pricing depending on your needs. Stylists surprise you with looks based on your preferences and feedback, as well as your size and the weather that season. You can keep those styles as long as you want and then return them for a new pack — or purchase any pieces you want to keep.

Shipping, returns and even dry cleaning are free, and membership gets you discounts up to 50% off retail pricing.

What you’ll pay: $59/month for three items in a pack, once a month; $69/month for four items in a pack, once a month; $89/month for three items in a pack, unlimited packs per month; or $99/month for four items in a pack, unlimited packs per month.


Gwynnie Bee

Gwynnie Bee is a two-item-a-month subscription box specializing in sizes 10 to 32. You can wear and return the pieces each month or decide to buy one or both at prices lower than retail. The subscription also includes free shipping, unlimited exchanges and free dry cleaning.

What you’ll pay: $49/month


Le Tote

Le Tote’s subscription box follows the industry standards: Wear everything in your monthly tote as much as you want, and then return to get your next tote. Alternatively, you can purchase items from the tote at up to 50% off retail prices. Le Tote’s stylists make suggestions on what ships, but you ultimately decide what your box contains each month.

A subscription to Le Tote includes free priority (two to three days) shipping and returns. The number of items in your monthly tote will vary depending on the balance of accessories and clothing. You can skip a month at no cost and cancel whenever.

Le Tote also offers maternity clothing, which means expectant mothers can avoid dropping hundreds on business-professional maternity items they might never wear again.

What you’ll pay: $69/month (Classic) or $79/month (Maternity)


Rent the Runway

Easily the most expensive option, Rent the Runway is only a wise investment if you are a businesswoman who regularly purchases high-end looks ranging in the $300 to $500 cost category.

Rent the Runway gives you access to designer dresses, skirts, tops, accessories and more. With a subscription, you get unlimited rentals from 450-plus top brands, four at a time. The plan includes free shipping, insurance and dry cleaning.

What you’ll pay: $159/month


Elizabeth and Clarke

Are you prone to spilling food or coffee on your blouses? Elizabeth and Clarke offers unstainable clothing, shipped every three months. The basic plans depend on the number of shirts you want for each season, but you can also opt in to a suit separates plan. All plans include free shipping, returns and exchanges and can be paused or canceled at any time.

What you’ll pay: $60/shirt for one shirt, $50/shirt for two shirts or $40/shirt for three shirts


Alternatives to Clothing Rental Subscriptions

Are you a fan of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience but unwilling to pay insane designer label prices? You have more options.

Discount fashion outlets are a great place to shop if you want clothes that are on trend (or maybe just a season or two out of trend). You’ll have more luck here if you are outside the most common size range, as these stores often carry clothing that did not sell well (lots of XS and XL).

Thrift stores are also a viable option and highly affordable. You are more likely to find clothing in common size ranges here, but bringing the dated fashion into present day requires unique separates pairing and an eye for accessorizing.

Have a minimalist aesthetic? Design your own capsule wardrobe and live off just a few crucial pieces.

Finally, organizations like Dress for Success help women striving for economic independence with business professional attire for job interviews.

Interested in even more savings? Check out this ultimate money-saving guide to save in every aspect of your life, from college to car insurance.


Timothy Moore is an editor and freelance writer living in Germantown, Ohio, with his partner and their two dogs.

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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