Dressing for work on a budget

So you landed that new job - WooHoo! Now that you have to give back the suit you borrowed for the interview, you'll need some work clothes. Or maybe what you wore to the interview is all you have. Regardless, no one wants to spend their first three paychecks before they even receive them just to look good in the office! So how can you put together a budget-friendly wardrobe?

Here are some tips on decking yourself out without breaking the bank. The key is to go with affordable essentials that can be mixed and matched. Here are some suggestions on how you can get budget-friendly work wardrobe must-haves!

Look at What You Have Already

Go through your current wardrobe and pick out some basics that you can use. Simple shirts and knit tops (especially solid color), dress pants and nice shoes are probably hanging around in your closet, but maybe they don't go together. As you shop for the basic must-haves, keep these pieces you already own in mind.

Basic Pieces

You really don't have to spend a lot to get a few basic pieces. Think neutrals for pants, skirts, and blazers/jackets. Don't shun the suit just because you are on a budget - you may find it's actually less money to buy a suit in a neutral color and then take it apart to mix and match. Remember those clothes already waiting for you in your closet? Think of how they will look with the suit skirt, pants, or jacket.

Generally, you can expect the following must-haves:

* For men, 3 jackets, 3 pants, 4 button-down shirts, 3 ties, and 2 pairs of shoes.

* For women, 3 jackets, 3 pants or skirts, 5 tops such as button-down or solid knit, 1 or 2 twinsets that you can mix and match, 4 pairs of trouser socks and/or pantyhose, and 2 pairs of shoes (yes, ladies can get by with 2 pairs of shoes, too).

If you can, buy 2 suits that you can mix and match, and you are well on your way to being finished with your work wardrobe shopping.


If you're on a budget, accessories are an area where you can easily cut back. You don't need different bracelets, necklaces, earrings, shoes, and handbags for every outfit, for instance. Think basic and neutral, as you did with the basic pieces above.

A black, tan, or navy handbag will easily interchange between outfits, as will neutral shoes. Bracelets and earrings do not really have to be worn, but if you want to accessorize, buy an inexpensive set in silver and one in gold. Or go with a set in neutral colors made of ceramic, glass, or wood. These tend to be less expensive than precious metals.


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