Trading in your college sweatshirts for office-appropriate attire can be daunting, not to mention pricey. Here are a few ways to build a simple work wardrobe on a budget. Dressing like an adult has been a tough — and pricey — part of my post-grad life. I’m putting the school-spirit T-shirts away and trying to compete with professionals who have been in the workforce for much longer. I know I feel more confident when I look put-together, and it’s worthwhile to me to invest in quality items.
That’s not such a bad perspective, says Kat Griffin, who runs the fashion and career blog Corporette.com for “overachieving chicks.”
When she was working as a lawyer, she says she spent all her time either at the office, out at night or working out (to which I can now relate). If her clothes didn’t fit in one of those three categories, they weren’t worth investing in, she said. Plus, there are cheap options for nightlife clothes that do the trick, and unless you’re a Lululemon addict, there’s no need to shell out for Soul Cycle threads. So all things considered, your workwear is where the money should go.
Invest in a few keys pieces, and slowly
It’s much better to have a smaller wardrobe full of great pieces than a closet full of junk.
“Quality pieces, taken care of properly, will generally last much longer than cheap pieces,. “It makes sense to invest in things you know you’ll wear.”
Spend more on items like black trousers, pencil skirts and blazers.
Keep it simple
I do like the idea of making mornings easier with simpler choices. For my own adaptation, I’ve taken to buying exclusively nude-colored flats. They match everything and make walking in the city easier.
Stay away from full-priced department store items
When you’re on a budget, it’s not necessarily possible to go straight for the full-priced items. Luckily, that’s not a barrier to finding some great pieces.
Be cautions. it’s important to understand a site’s return policies. It’s also a good idea to do a quick Internet search before buying to make sure it’s actually a good price.
Sell old clothes to offset the costs
In college, at the end of a semester, we would often clean out our closets and try to pawn some clothes off at a consignment store. Money Under 30 reader, Kate , suggests trying the same thing now. She began selling her clothes on eBay as she entered the workforce, she says.
“That way you help the next generation, and it provides you with some cash for the clothes you need,” she says. “You may be able to sell your clothes and perhaps even find some other outfits that may work for you now, but cheaper.”
When I first started commuting to my office in Midtown, I became mesmerized by the professional wear other women were sporting. They looked so formal and fashionable, and I felt casual and young in comparison.
It finally dawned on me that they did look formal — much more formal than the look I should be going for. They were likely headed to jobs in finance, where there is a different culture and they’d be making much more money than I would as a journalist.
Young journalists in my office don’t look like that, and I don’t really have to either. As I got comfortable in my environment, I started scaling back on the skirts and heels and upping the number of days I wear pants, blazers and my trusty nude flats.
That also makes me feel more comfortable, and not like I’m trying to lead with my outfits instead of my (super-recently earned) diploma.
At the end of the day, these tips are not going to land me a job at Vogue. But I’m not too upset about it. From what I’ve seen in the movies, a job like that is pretty stressful.