I hate to pay anywhere near retail prices on clothes for work. I love an end-of-season clearance rack and a solid fashion blog geared toward the poor penny-pinching sandwich-bag toting budget-conscious female professional. I also give major props to real working women and fashion bloggers that are brave enough to take a picture of what they are wearing every day and post it on the Internet.

Take Angelina Evans, an editor/writer for a nonprofit organization, who is currently blogging about her participation in the Great American Apparel Diet. Participants pledge not to buy any new clothes for a whole year. Instead, they get creative with the clothes they already own. Swapping for gently-used apparel is allowed. Evans loves fashion blogs, but has the same complaint I do – “the vast majority of them feature style and outfits that wouldn’t work in an office.” (And that we can’t afford.) Now she blogs – and boldly shares the contents of her closet – at The New Professional, giving readers “a peek at my workwear mishaps and masterpieces.”

Take her new boyfriend, who’s actually a sweater ’cause she’s married. Evans used a Loft boyfriend cardigan (not marked down at all, I checked) she received for Christmas to create yesterday’s outfit, which I’ll let you judge for yourself. The longer I look at the picture, the more I dig the tights. I also admire Evans for demonstrating that real women have wrinkles in their clothes, especially after work.

A boyfriend sweater, while maybe not the most exciting item in a gal’s wardrobe, is a great way to achieve warmth, comfort and professionalism, and it makes the transition from work skirt and tights to after work jeans easily. If you don’t already own one, now is a great time to get one, since retailers are kicking wool outta the stores to make room for spandex bikinis (which I hate more than Christmas merchandising at Halloween).

Here’s 5 under $20:

Kohl’s Takeout Slubbed Boyfriend Cardigan – $10.80 (was $36). No longer available online, but at this price, it’s worth trying to score one at your local Kohl’s. There are two within driving distance of me, and I love a good clearance rack quest.

Covington Women’s V-Neck Cardigan with Belt – $11.99 (was $40). Please tell me you’re not too good to shop for clothes at Sears. Even if your size isn’t available online, at this price it’s worth stopping by your local Sears to see if they have this figure-flattering sweater in Deep Eggplant, Black Onyx, or Dovetail Gray. Faux leather belt included, peeps, or you can upgrade to a nicer one you already own.

Lands’ End Women’s Stripe Boyfriend V-Neck Cardigan Sweater – $19.99 (was $59.50). There are several colors available, but I love this Gull Grey stripe. For some reason, it reminds me of my favorite place on earth, the beach. It’s a little preppier than I normally go for, but it looks crisp and fresh. (To be fair to the other sweaters in this post, shown on headless mannequins, I thought about cropping this cutie’s head right out of the picture, but then thought y’all might think I was just jealous of her youth and beauty, which I totally am.)

Denim & Co. Long Sleeve Button Front Cardigan w/Pockets – $17.88 (was $39.00). Yes, pockets! And this Claret Red is eye-popping, in a good way, especially on a blah day. (I might have to stop making fun of QVC now. I’ve never bought anything from a home shopping network; maybe I’m being too judgmental.)

AE Boyfriend Cardigan – $19.95 (was $44.50) – The Teens love everything American Eagle. Usually I’m in sticker shock when they manage to drag me in the store, but this extra long, slinky in a good way sweater, available in black or oatmeal heather, seems like a classic and versatile purchase that could make me grin in triumph at the AE cash register.

Word to the savvy online shopper. The word boyfriend in front of sweater or cardigan seems to jack the price up considerably. Simple terms like v-neck and button front combined with cardigan and sweater are less expensive.

Have you found a deal on a great boyfriend sweater for work? Please share it with us!

Addendum: Check out more boyfriend sweaters under $20 over at the Frugal Paralegal blog. Thanks, Margaret!

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