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Tips for Finding a Professional Work Wardrobe Without Spending a Fortune

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 11:34am | by Guest Contributor

It is a bit ironic, isn't it? "It" being that we spend most of our waking hours in a workplace environment so that we can make money and yet a lot of that income goes to wearing clothes at that same office. Then, to add to the (potential) pressure, some of us don't get the kind of paycheck that affords us with the ability to be as "dressed up" as we would like (or the dress code calls for).

If this is your dilemma and you're looking for some tips on how to find a professional work wardrobe without spending a fortune to do it, here are five great tips below. Ones that will keep you looking classically professional without going broke:

Plan ahead. A lot of us create lists for going grocery shopping, yet, interestingly enough, we don't do it nearly as much (if at all) when we're out shopping for clothes. A pretty surefire way to overspend money is to go into a department store without a plan for what you are going to get. So, before you leave the house, make sure to write down some absolute "must-haves" along with the amount of money that you have to spend on them.

Build your wardrobe. A professional wardrobe needs some foundational pieces: a couple of solid-colored business suits, a couple of skirts and slacks, some dressy casual blouses, and a few pair of comfortable-yet-professional shoes. Whether you are starting off your wardrobe or upgrading it, make sure that these things are on your list. When it comes to the suits, get one that is appropriate for spring and summer and another that will work well in the autumn and winter seasons.

Be open-minded. Once you know what you are going to get, don't limit your options to Nordstrom or Macys. Stores like TJ Maxx, Kohl's and even Target have a lot of these things (especially when it comes to separates) that you can get for much cheaper than in a department store. Also, don't overlook thrift stores, either. There are some real gems (sometimes even designer ones) hanging on those racks.

Accessorize. OK, if you have a black suit and there's a white collared shirt that you wear with it, look at what some accessories can do: You can wear a tie. You can put on some pearls. You can wear a scarf around your neck. You can pull your hair back into a ponytail and put on some bangle earrings and a bracelet. In each of these instances, just by the change of an accessory, you have totally altered the look of the outfit. Bottom line, don't underestimate what $20 in an accessories store can do for your clothes. Oh, and while we're on the subject, don't forget to get some good foundational pieces like some bras at Bare Necessities or Victoria's Secret and some solid slips and hosiery as well.

Get some more pieces as you can afford it. If you've ever seen TLC's What Not to Wear, then you know that the stylists on there get rid of a person's wardrobe and use $5,000 in order to build a new one. Yet, when those people return home, that's not all that they wear for the rest of their lives. That upgrade simply helps to set a new standard. The moral to the story is this: Once you have the foundational pieces that you need, budget in a few dollars per month so that you can get more items as you go along. Once you know what you're looking for and how much you have to spend, finding professional work wear will not only be affordable, but easy and fun for you too!

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