Your professional image sends an important message to your clients and co-workers. It also influences how you feel about yourself and can even affect your productivity. It’s important to feel confident in the way you present yourself and also understand the professional image you’re portraying. Building a professional wardrobe, especially from scratch, isn’t easy and can get expensive. However, if
you know what to shop for and stick to a budget, you can have a closet full of professional attire without breaking the bank. Here are a few tips to help get you started.
Set a budget
Many financial planners recommend spending 5% of your monthly income on clothing. To find the exact dollar amount you should spend per month, multiply your monthly take-home pay by 0.05. For example, if your monthly take-home pay is $3,000, you should spend no more than $150 per month on clothing. Keep in mind that everyone has a unique financial situation and you’ll likely know your situation better than anyone. The 5% “rule” is just a guideline to follow, not a strict rule. If you’re building your professional wardrobe from scratch, you may want to set a budget higher than 5% initially. Regardless of your budget, the important thing is that you stick to it!
Splurge on the essentials
Depending on your profession and your company’s dress code, you may be required to wear suits or more business professional attire. If this applies to you, then this is where you should spend the bulk of your budget on items like high-quality blazers, pants, skirts, and suits. When shopping for these items, you’ll want something both classic and professional that will stand the test of time. Pick out pieces in classic colours that are appropriate year-round such as black or grey. If you buy a solid colour suit, grab an additional pair of pants or a skirt in a different shade so you can mix and match.
Shopping secondhand is a great way to fill your closet with business appropriate attire without breaking the bank. It also allows you to purchase gently used clothing at a lower cost. Many online consignment stores offer a variety of brands that are perfect for the office. For example, an online consignment store, thredUP offers a variety of affordable Lularoe dresses which are perfect for both business professional and casual environments. For a more casual look, pair the dress with cute accessories and booties. If you’re going for a more professional look, add a blazer and pumps.
Don’t forget to accessorise
Whether you’re on your feet a lot or at a desk job, it’s important to have good shoes. That being said, you don’t have to pay full price for them. Stores like DSW are great options for shoes because they offer past season styles for low prices. Fortunately, when it comes to work shoes, styles don’t change that much from year to year. Ideally, you should be able to pick up two pairs for under $100. At the very least pick out a basic pair of black pumps. If your budget allows it, grab another pair in a neutral colour like nude, grey, or brown.
While you may not think to prioritise accessories when building your professional wardrobe, they’re key to mixing up your look. With that being said, you don’t have to break the bank on cute accessories. While stores like Forever 21 may not be the best option for office attire, they’re a gold mine for affordable accessories. Look for bracelets, necklaces, belts, and scarves that complement the professional attire you purchased. Now it’s time to put your look together. If you choose items that mix-and-match well together, you’ll be able to pull off a variety of different ensembles with just a few pieces!
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About the author
Nora B. is a content creator who is passionate about eco-friendly fashion and living consciously. When she’s not researching her next article, she can be found tending to her herb garden and volunteering at local organizations.