How the Career Woman Shops Like She’s Embezzling

By: Stephanie Diana Gast- Wilson

Working in the financial industry comes with certain training responsibilities.  Such as yearly fraud and money laundering warning signs training which is required by the FDIC.  While taking the yearly training the example of potential fraud was given if a co worker has a watch or new purse that is outside of their income bracket.  This example struck me as odd because, most companies have the policy that you may not share what your income is with staff.  Also because, I have a Coach purse that my manager gave me as a gift that is well beyond my yearly allotment of budget for purses.  (Thanks Ms. Holly).  My sister gave me one of her old Betsy Johnson purses at the tag was still inside showing it cost new $128 which she gave me because, she thought it would double as a diaper bag well.  (Thanks Rachel).   This is only among the many other accessories I have purchased myself at prices that were a steal all because I was taught how to shop intelligently and on a budget.

So, the study of power object in the work place is not an uncommon topic.  As I am currently working on my master’s degree in Business with a focus on Operations at Southern New Hampshire University’s online program and in one of my previous classes the teacher brought up the topic of Power Objects and the work place.  However, many women ask each other where they got some accessory or another and lets face it the office is one on going fashion show whether we want to admit it or not.  However, a person’s fashion struck me as an interesting thing to alert a company to fraud.

For those of you unfamiliar with the warning signs of employee fraud I recommend checking out the PDF from the State of New York Office of the State Comptroller,  Though this PDF notes that most frauds that are caught and reported are done by men many of these warning signs read very much like people should keep their eyes on women.  The main one to watch for apparently is, “Employee lifestyle changes: expensive cars, jewelry, homes, clothes… ”.

After learning early on how to shop to look like the job I really want and I have also been learning even more after working with a small start up fashion magazine Scarllett Mag ( and [there is my shameless plug for the day]) the concept of watching women’s fashion for fraud indicators sounds even sillier then it already did.  This has added some perspective for me on this topic.  That question on the fraud training seems to just assume that women don’t know how to shop and make themselves look like a million bucks without spending even close to that.  So, below are my shopping tips for looking like you can compete and win the beauty pageant known as the business world and be able to look like you are embezzling while you are really bamboozling people with how much you saved.

First off vintage pieces are one of the easiest things to tie into the power suit and dress suit conformity the work place often has.  That and many vintage items can be dressed up or down and re-used for in and out of the office to give that fresh but powerful look to any outfit.  Those of you like me who have to shop on a budget and want to look like you have a limitless one can’t write off the power of going to a good vintage/ thrift store.  Those of you who like me live in the San Francisco bay area we are blessed with some of the best regions to look for these sorts of stores.   To you I recommend the ones in higher end areas like Napa, Marin county, Sonoma county and parts of Contra Costa County.  Also my personal favorites to frequent are Crossroads Trading Co. and Out of the Closet    Believe it or not if you are just starting out in the business world a great place to get women’s power suits is Old Navy.  It is a great resource when one is on a budget.

Second tip is that timing is everything.  I personally find hitting big sales helps my wallet but, hitting the right sales can be fun and cut down the spending even more while keeping you looking fabulous.  My personal favorite shopping season is two to three days before New Years’ Eve.  For me “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”.  Throughout all the major stores in San Francisco they are all having sales to avoid the taxes on left over items in the New Year.  Now I know traditionally you would think black Friday, cyber Monday and, the day after Christmas but; those days are just a good time to stress yourself out for modest gains.  Also it’s fun to shop and enjoy the holiday cheer.  Also though you may have to fight through a lot of kids going to the after summer/ back to school shopping sales is a great way to save on the summer fashions.

Thirdly if you don’t like crowds and prefer the online shopping trend (I only love it for certain things.  Sorry people some things look better hanging on the hanger in the picture than hanging off of me and it’s easier to be there and try them on) I recommend shipping is only $2 and they have some quality name brands but, it is a real crap shoot sometimes.  Personally I LOVE Amazon as most of us do.  I recommend to get the Amazon Prime and buy stuff made in the USA. (Fashion and school saving tip for my fellow students go and get the student discount on Amazon Prime.) The shipping is usually the most expensive thing and if you are like me and shop on my phone during “free time” than this is the spot to scout out good deals from the comfort of where ever you are with your phone.  (Please don’t shop and drive.  It’s best to make it to the store alive.)  I can’t seem to say enough about Amazon when it comes to shoes.  One of my favorite pairs of boots for $20 which were marked off from $100 on the online after Christmas sale.

With fashion as in real estate one thing that is always important is location, location, location.  This plays into the factor of not only wanting to shop at certain times of the year.  It’s not called retail therapy for nothing.  So, if you want year round great savings outlets and where the outlets are located is big factor on the quality of good you’ll find.  As far as outlets you can’t go wrong with The Petaluma Outlets, Livermore Outlets, or Napa  All these places also have thriving downtown areas with small fashion boutiques that can also be classy and affordable.  So, whatever gets you out and shopping if you don’t find it in the big name stores check the downtowns’ smaller stores.  You are also indirectly stimulating the local economy while you have a great shopping adventure.

Borrowing on my location, location, location, point; if you want nice, name brand business apparel I hate to say it but; Marshall’s and Ross in certain areas can be a great resource.  I live out in Marin County and the Ross by my home has brands like, Steve Madden, XOXO, Coach and other big names.  Also the Marshall’s in the same mall area had coach wedge heels to die for only $59.

coach shoe

Also as a shoe lover one can’t say enough about places like DSW.  DSW has a quarter of the store that’s just the clearance section and you can find some great deals on shoes of all brands and styles for reasonable prices.  Last month I bought a pair of New Balance running shoes, a pair of Rebook running shoes, and a pair of Steve Madden hot pink flats which all totaled to $65 including tax.  Places like just are also wonderful.  Although for this like many other stores it is location, location, location.  I have gone to the DSW in San Jose and can never find my size yet the one in Marin always has my size.

Women in the business world are true survivors.  We learn how to make our way through the world while letting you know how fabulous we are while we do it.  We all have our beauty and fashion secrets.  But, before anyone jumps to the question of fraud we should all just stop and squeak, “Where did you get that”!  Nine times out of ten it will prove just another smart shopper tactic not a corporate fraud tactic.

Work Cited

Napa Premium Outlets®. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

San Francisco Premium Outlets®. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Petaluma Village Premium Outlets®. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel, Computers, Books, DVDs & more. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Sandals, Pumps & Heels, Sneakers, Wedding Shoes, Handbags | DSW. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Grand Openings! (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Home. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Home. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Out of the Closet Thrift Stores -. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

Crossroadsblog. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from

(n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from


One thought on “How the Career Woman Shops Like She’s Embezzling

  1. Great post! As a previous Business Manager and personal stylist for a fashion business based of off New York, I can relate to much of what you have mentioned. Training for fraud in the fashion industry can be a bit tricky and one of the reason’s as you make relevance to, is a person’s ability to look like a million bucks – having spent the million or, not. Though, there are those who have the million bucks but yet, would rather dress as if they spent twenty dollars. I learned that it takes a lot of on-site learning and extensive communication: talk with the buyers, employees, customers, etc.; learn a bit about who they are, learn to categorize un-biased traits or characteristics of a persona and use the information to supplement and improve the already determined fraud strategies. I was asked, “How did you know that about me?” many times before and it was due, to not following a cookie-cutter methodology.


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