Hey — these aren't construction-site clothes!

When it comes to clothes shopping, I’m all about getting a great deal. So when I received a media invitation to preview the Mark’s Work Wearhouse Spring/Summer collection, I was curious. Mark’s is where Matt and I go to buy Christmas presents for my father-in-law, who is a working farmer. When I wanted a pair of no-leak boots to get me through the super-snowy, super-cold winter of a few years ago, I knew Mark’s would have them. But I never thought of the chain, which is owned by Canadian Tire, as a place to replenish my office wardrobe. That is, until my colleague Laura walked into work one day in a stunningly chic black jersey shirt dress. “Wow!” I gushed. “That dress is incredible!”

With a sly smile, she revealed her secret: The dress cost about $12 at a Mark’s Work Wearhouse clearance store.

Would I find more of the same at this media preview? I wondered.

While Mark’s does still carry all the old standbys — hiking and construction boots, waterproof outerwear, rugged clothing for people who earn their living outdoors — the chain also carries men’s and women’s clothes that are perfect for a business casual workplace and easy weekends.

The team explained that whenever the chain creates a new line, it’s always with their customers’ needs in mind. Their no-iron, machine-washable “Perfectly Pressed” shirts and pants save time and dry-cleaning bills. And where was Mark’s “Freshtech” exercise gear when I was stinking up my premium-priced Lululemon stuff? The fabric in Freshtech casual wear and workout clothing has antimicrobial properties built-in, so odour and stains are far less likely to linger after washing. The best part is that Freshtech yoga pants cost only $39.99 — about half what I paid for mine. (Although it must be said that I love the fit and durability of my pricey Lululemon pants, I’m willing to consider cheaper options.)

For women, there’s a line called Curvetech, which includes tops and dresses with built-in bras. So you can wear a halter or sundress without worrying about your bra strap peeking out, or having another bunchy layer when it’s swelteringly hot out.

Best of all, the prices are all incredibly reasonable. Technical golf shirts that rival $100-plus versions from big name sports brands go for $34. For $16, you get a t-shirt with no side seams and that’s guaranteed to look good as new through 50 washes.

After pampering me with the services of an on-site stylist, make-up artist and hair guru, the Mark’s team snapped my photo in one of their Curvetech dresses. Regular price, $69.99, but according to the online flyer, in Ontario it’s on sale for $52.49 until April 25. Can you think of anywhere else you can get a bra and a dress for $52.49??? Have a look:

Now, be brutally honest, because I won’t take it personally. Would you wear this dress? Would you buy it for $52.49?

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