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5 Tips for Building a Professional Office Wardrobe on a Budget

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

So you've finally landed the job you've been hunting for, and now you're faced with a new problem. The company is run from a professional office, and business casual just isn't going to cut it. If you're coming from a more relaxed working environment, pulling together an all-new professional wardrobe could run you thousands of dollars. And if you had that sitting around, you probably wouldn't have been looking for a new job in the first place! So what do you do now? The short answer is that you have to find a way to design a new wardrobe that will stand up to being worn each week, without having to sacrifice too much to limitations. Here are five easy tips for assembling a basic, stylish office wardrobe that won't empty your purse.

Buy the bigger pieces in neutral colors that easily mix and match. There's a reason people dress in similar colors in an office environment, and it's not because everyone's personality is beige! Pick up your jackets and skirts in neutrals, such as black, navy, tan, cream, gray or white, and you'll be able to easily mix and match them together. Each of those colors will go well together, and as you continue to reassemble new outfits, it won't be so obvious that they're the same pieces. Buy two distinct outfits and you're stuck with them as is. But buy two jackets, two separate pants or skirts, and five easily-matched tops, and you've got a week's worth of outfits. Don't worry, none will be the wiser! And a rule of thumb on shoes: if you can only afford to start with one pair, go with black. They work with nearly everything, and you can expand from there after a couple of paychecks.

Buy your accent pieces in coordinated colors. You've got all the neutrals, but the last thing you want is to be boring! Well, accent pieces are where you can introduce some big colors. Find out what colors go well with your skin tone and have fun with it. Try to stick to solids, as they won't be as obvious as patterns when you wear them again.

Don't ignore what you already have in your closet. They may not jump out at you at first glance, but chances are you already have a couple pieces that would work great in your burgeoning office wardrobe. A pair of heels that just need a polish, or a nice blouse that would look great crisply ironed underneath one of your new jackets. The couple of pieces you find here will add more personality to your wardrobe, while keeping your credit card bills in check.

Check with your family. Perhaps you're close in size to a sister, mom or aunt? Don't be afraid to scour their closets as well! I know, no one wants hand-me-downs, but think about your shopping budget and swallow your pride. You could borrow a piece or two to get you buy until you've got a couple of paychecks under your belt, and can further expand your wardrobe on your own. And along those same lines, don't turn your nose up at second hand stores. You can often find designer clothing in thrift shops that is only mildly worn, and sometimes even with the tags still on it!

Have a list in hand while you shop. You're on a tight timeframe and budget, so have a strategy in mind before you walk out the door. Think about what each store does best before you go in, and only look in that area. It's a great idea to start with discount stores that offer big sales before going to more expensive retailers. Old Navy discount promotional codes could save you a trip to the Gap, while giving you a bit of wiggle room to buy extra things. Don't worry, as you move up the corporate food chain you can start shopping at all the fancy shops. But a limited budget is no reason not to look fantastic right now.

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