How to Build a Professional Wardrobe On a Shoestring Budget

Building a professional wardrobe can be overwhelming. With so many brands to choose from, it can be challenging to sift through what to purchase. But building a beautiful, professional wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive.

Even on a shoestring budget, it is possible to build a professional wardrobe. Here’s how.

Purge your closet

Tidying up like Marie Kondo and choosing to live minimally will help you see all of the clothing you already do have. Even when it seems like many of us have “nothing to wear,”  sometimes when we have a lot of clothes, that doesn’t mean they fit well or interest us. 

If you’re struggling to decide which pieces stay and go, tie a piece of string or ribbon around the rod of your closet. As you wear clothing, put pieces on one side of the string. At the end of a month, get rid of the clothes that are untouched on the opposite side. 

Then, choose to keep only items that you truly enjoy, and that fit you well. Everything else can be sold or donated.

Budget and pull out cash

To avoid overspending, do plan to invest in your attire. Come up with a number you can afford, and save extra money through smart savings apps like Albert or Clarity Money. Sell the old pieces you don’t need. Pull out cash and place it in envelopes or use automated savings apps to stay on track when you’re ready to purchase.

Go for basic, neutral pieces

Most people coordinate their closet around one of two colors: black or navy. Choose one to be the foundation for your closet, and purchase essential staple pieces of that color and some matching neutrals that can be worn with different outfits.

Having a black blouse, blazer, slacks, and pumps – for example – would be a great place to start, along with a white, cream, and blue blouse.

Focus on timeless attire

Instead of opting for professional trends like high waisted trousers, block sandals, chunky jewelry, or vibrant patterns, choose timeless pieces that will continue to remain in style. Though there’s a time and place to purchase the latest trends, focus on creating a capsule wardrobe.

Add accents

Accents offer a great chance to add bold and bright pieces to freshen up your look. Choose pieces that reflect your personality. With any basic outfit, try adding a pair of shoes that pop, or a statement necklace to add to your appearance.

Try a bright colored blouse with a black blazer. Though accents shouldn’t make up the bulk of your wardrobe, they should be sprinkled in.

Don’t be afraid of thrift stores

Thrift stores may have a bad reputation, but some of the best pieces in your closet may be found there. Use thrift stores as your chance to look for those classic pieces to invest in as they’ll likely save you a fortune from looking in department stores. 

Invest in pieces you love

Don’t beat yourself up for splurging on one or two pieces that you absolutely adore. Find clothing you feel confident in and take great care of them.

What NOT to Wear to an Interview

Preparing for a job interview is stressful, so when you factor in attire as a critical component to the process, for many it can be overwhelming.

The most important factor of this process is deciding on a winning interview outfit, but there are a lot more clothing components that you should choose not to consider when making selections in your professional attire.

Without further adieu, here are some considerations to review when you decide what to wear to an interview, and more importantly what not to.

Whatever you wear, don’t dress too casually

You are always better suited being overdressed than under, so don’t risk trying to be trendy by showing up in your black skinny jeans surrounded by a colony of white-collar workers all dressed in pantsuits.

Do as much research as you can about the company online and see if you can make assumptions based on people who work there may be wearing (time for some stalking on LinkedIn), but when in doubt, do not underdress.

Don’t wear anything flashy

Bright neon-colored blouses, colorful dress socks, and crazy patterns may seem fun, but they ultimately lead to more distraction. You want the hiring manager to be paying more attention to you, as opposed to doing a rundown of your entire outfit while you’re speaking of your experience. Play it safe and stick to neutral colors like blue, which is said to elicit trust in an interview setting.

Don’t overdo it on the accessories

This one is more geared towards the ladies, but trust me, the last thing you want is for your new earring back to fall off and drop your earring in the middle of a sentence. Bracelets can become a token item to fidget with as well. If you’re going to accessorize, keep all jewelry items clean and simple.

Don’t wear open-toed shoes

Though some companies are becoming a bit more relaxed in their expectations, this is a safe rule to play by. Sandals can be loud, flip-flops were made for the beach, and closed-toed shoes generally elicit more professionalism. Loafers, pumps, ballet flats, or dress boots are great options to consider.

Don’t wear anything too fitted

For both sexes, form-fitting clothing can just be distracting. Get a few opinions on your wardrobe, but stick to clothing that’s comfortable but doesn’t quite fit like a glove. You don’t have to limit yourself to presidential pantsuits, but consider walking around in your clothing, and wearing it before you interview. New outfits are nice, but be sure to test them beforehand.

Don’t wear anything that isn’t ironed or pressed

Cleanliness is next to godliness, so cross your T’s, dot your I’s, and iron your shirt and pants. It’s just professional. No one wants to look at wrinkles, and having them present while you’re making a first impression is just downright unprofessional.

Don’t wear anything that isn’t you

At the end of the day, be you. Don’t feel pressured to find a new outfit, or appear to be something that doesn’t reflect who you are. Though there’s a temptation to replace your entire wardrobe, consider finding pieces you already own that reflect your personality, and add accessories like a new blazer or comfortable new pair of flats along the way to accentuate them.

The most important thing you can wear to an interview is your personality, so although your wardrobe matters, nothing else is as crucial as you being 110 percent confident in yourself.

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