Shopping for Professional Attire on a Budget

jackets and shirts

Shopping on a budget can be a challenge. The challenge can be even greater when you are looking to update your professional work attire on a budget.

Many jobs require a professional or business casual dress appearance, and maintaining a work appropriate look isn’t always the easiest on your wallet. However, there are ways that you can look stylish and work appropriate while not breaking the bank. When setting your professional attire budget, you should first read over your workplace’s dress code. Knowing what is and isn’t work appropriate is the first step. Once you have a good understanding of what clothing types are permitted, you can get started.

Taking care of the basics before buying any extra is a good place to begin when shopping for your professional attire. Purchasing the basic clothing items you need first will allow you to better budget for extra pieces, such as ties and/or accessories. Examples of basic professional attire pieces include:

  1. Work appropriate dress slacks in neutral colors, such as black or grey.
  2. Work appropriate dress skirts and dresses in neutral colors, such as black or grey.
  3. Appropriately styled blouses/button-downs/dress shirts in neutral and basic colors, including white, tan, grey, navy and black.
  4. A nice pair of denim jeans for casual work days.

When shopping for your “basic work attire” staples, a good way to save money is to shop in the “off season.” Typically during the autumn and winter months, prices for items such as dress slacks will be more expensive. However, during the spring and summer time these items often go on the sale rack because they are considered “out of season” by many retailers. By stocking up while the items are on sale, you not only save but are able to purchase more items while doing so as well. Shopping during the “off season” for other wardrobe essentials can help you save tremendously.

Once your basics are taken care of, look for clothing pieces that you can mix and match to create different looks without spending any extra money to do so. For women, a good example would be to pair a colorful cardigan with a blouse and dress pants one day and then to wear the cardigan with a skirt or over a dress another day. Men can easily change up their everyday work look by simply wearing a different tie with the same shirt and slacks. In addition, statement pieces, such as jewelry, scarves, ties and pocket squares can be purchased at discount prices for less, but drastically offer your work attire more variety without spending too much money.

Another rule of thumb is to purchase pieces that can be dressed up for work as well as dressed down for more casual functions. This not only cuts costs from your work attire spending, but helps you save money on your general clothing purchases as well. An example would be a nice blouse or polo shirt that could work with both dress slacks as well as a pair of denim jeans. When shopping for work shoes try to keep this idea in mind as well. Make sure that the shoes you choose could easily be dressed up or down depending on circumstance.

Keeping an eye out for sales at local retailers as well as shopping at factory outlet-type stores can further help you save money when building your work appropriate wardrobe. It doesn’t hurt to compare brand prices store to store as well. Many retailers will often match the price of an item to another store that is currently selling the piece for less.

Finally, keeping track of your current work attire can help you save money. If it’s time to purchase new items, consider putting your gently used clothing in a yard sale to help earn extra money to pay for new pieces. This could be done as easily as posting the clothing items you wish to sell on a social networking site, such as Facebook. Knowing what you already have will also help you determine the pieces you need. Remember to always focus on what you need first rather than what you want. It’s also important to keep track of what you purchase, which will help you stick to your budget as well.

Good luck and happy shopping!