How to Build a Professional Wardrobe on a Budget
If you’re like most working professionals, you of course want to look nice and presentable for your job, but building up a professional wardrobe takes time, and let’s face it- money.
In a perfect world, we’d all be able to go on a shopping spree to buy a fantastic wardrobe with endless suits, but let’s be real- other things often take priority leading us to be creative.
I’ve now been part of the working community for almost five years, and in that time I have learned a lot in the arena of building up a professional wardrobe. Today I’m sharing helpful advice on how to choose the best clothing pieces to make your dollar stretch further, while still looking both cute and professional for your job.
Evaluate Your Existing Wardrobe
Before heading out on a shopping trip, take a good long look at the clothes you already have in your closet. First, create a pile with any obvious professional pieces, such as dress pants, skirts, and blazers. Second, take a look at items in your closet that have “professional potential”, and add those pieces to the pile. Cute tops you may have never considered to be professional, can become instantly classy and chic once paired with a nice blazer.
Next, try all those items on. Yes, I know this might seem tedious but there’s no reason to keep that pair of dress pants that has a torn-up zipper, or that sweater that has a noticeable run down the front. You’ll also want to make sure everything fits well and is an appropriate length and cut for the workplace. If it doesn’t make the cut, throw it out of the pile, donating and tossing as sees fit.
Lastly, create a list of any professional items that are missing. (Don’t forget shoes and accessories!) Ideally, you will want enough of a wardrobe base to get you through an entire 5 day work week.
Professional Wardrobe Shopping List Essentials
- 2-3 Pairs of Dress Pants
- 1-2 Knee Length Skirts
- 3-5 Simple Blouses
- Pair of Comfortable Flats and/or High Heels
Optional Items if Budget Allows:
- Simple Dress
Top 5 Money Saving Tips:
- Stick with neutral shades on items such as blazers, skirts, and pants for versatility. Black, navy, and gray are all great choices.
- Shop for staple items in the off season. Late winter and early spring is a great time to shop for suits and dress pants while they’re clearanced down. I also recommend shopping the end of summer clearance racks for nice looking camisoles or tanks that can be worn under blazers and cardigans.
- Avoid flashy or trendy prints. Although it might be cute, people will quickly notice if you’re repeat wearing a top with hearts all over it.
- Add color to your wardrobe through accessories (i.e. jewelry, scarves, shoes, etc.). Although a leopard print blouse is cute, purchasing a pair of printed flats or scarf will prove to be a more cost effective choice, as it can be worn with multiple outfits in different ways.
- Use the one piece 3 way rule. If you can look at an item in the store and visually create 3 looks or more out of it, then it is worth purchasing. For instance, a simple white blouse can be worn alone, under a blazer, with a cardigan, paired with a scarf, and under a sweater, making it a no-brainer staple.
I hope today’s post has been helpful to those of you who are currently trying to build up a professional wardrobe! What other money saving tips would you add?
Thanks for stopping by!-Cara