Frugal ways to look good at work

Building a Business Casual Wardrobe

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Building a Business Casual Wardrobe

Next week I begin my first office job. The dress is "business casual," but I really don't have much in my closet that will work. And, since I'm just starting the job, I don't have a lot of cash to spend. Is there an inexpensive way to build a business casual wardrobe?

Keep It Simple

Try to stick with three solid, neutral colors for slacks, skirts, etc. Black and navy blue slacks and five nice looking tops will see you through one work week. Then build up to ten tops. Two weeks of different tops are all you really need with black or navy blue slacks to start out with.
Janice (via Facebook)

Get Professional Help

You might try the fashion department of one of the larger department stores. They have someone who coordinates fashion shows and collections, and you can usually book an hour with them (it's free). I'm not sure what their working title is, but if you explain you would like help purchasing a wardrobe, I am sure they would direct you to the right person.

Tell them what you want and how much you can spend, and they will take it from there. They know their stock and will start you off with basic pieces in your price range. You get to try the clothes on and have someone else's opinion on how well they suit you.

I did this last fall at our Bay store here in Canada and came home with a wardrobe of two sweaters, two pants and a jacket, and wore them interchangeably all winter, adding whatever I had in my closet that would work.

Visit Goodwill

Be willing to take the time to search and try new things. Often, brand new items are on the rack.
Leeann (via Facebook)

Start with Basics When Building a Business Casual Wardrobe

Keep your colors basic. Use khaki, black, white and navy to start. You can often get away with nice t-shirts, which are inexpensive.
Sheila (via Facebook)

Dress Up Outfits with Blazers

Blazers are an easy way to dress an outfit up. Try to snag a few versatile colors at thrift or consignment stores. And there are some charitable organizations that collect professional clothes to give to people.
Amy (via Facebook)

Assess What You Have

Take your clothes out and assess. Do you have basic black? Do you have one skirt, one pair of slacks, and one jacket? Do you have these three in brown or grey? How about navy blue? Or beige? Then accessorize using scarves and modest jewelry. Learn how to iron. Take care of buttons and loose hems yourself. Polish your shoes.
Sheila (via Facebook)

Shop Thrift Stores

You can definitely build a business casual wardrobe with very little money. Thrift stores are your best bet. You can find great name brand clothing for very little. My local Goodwill sells items at set prices. For example, all pants are $5 and skirts are $3.50. You can buy a few basics to mix and match. Black pants go with everything and so do black skirts. If you can pick up a few dresses, you can always get different sweaters to wear on top to change up the look. I recently got to two Talbots dresses both new with the tags for only $3.99 each. They were each over $100 retail. You can also score good deals on shoes for work.

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Let Your Tops Be Your Statement

Have one pair each of navy, black, grey and tan slacks. Most tops will go with these colors. Have enough so you only have to wear each color of the pants once a week. This saves so much time in getting dressed in the morning. You could even set up a schedule. For example, set aside Mondays for grey pants, Tuesdays for navy pants, etc.

I've done this before, even with skirts. Just stick to the basic colors, and let the tops be your statement. It really makes you look smart and put together!

Choose One Neutral Color and Build From There

A good way to build a basic "business casual" wardrobe is to stick to one neutral color of slacks or skirts and then add the visual interest with a few tops and a couple of jackets or cardigans.

The same basic black pencil skirt or slacks looks totally different when worn with various blouses. Pairing them with a finishing piece (maybe a jacket or cardigan) gives you even more variety and makes you seem more put-together. Don't forget accessories. One bag and one good pair of shoes in your neutral color and a few pieces of jewelry will suffice.

Spend your money on quality bottoms, which take the most wear and tear, and save on the tops. Search out sales, clearance, consignment shops, and thrift shops.

With just a couple of bottoms, five tops, and a couple of jackets, along with a few accessories, you have a good, basic wardrobe that you can always build on later.

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Head to Facebook

To find some great deals on clothes, I would go onto Facebook and search for exchange groups in your local area. In the search box, just type in the name of the city you are from and see what groups it brings up. Some groups are open and others are private, so you would have to send a request to join.

Add Visual Interest with Scarves

Places like The Limited have nice pieces. They are always running sales and coupons too. The most important thing is that they fit well. Have them altered if needed. Having a tailored look makes you look more professional and makes the clothes look higher quality. Beautiful scarves tied various ways can add a lot of interest to your outfit while you're building your wardrobe. Check out outfit ideas on Pinterest, so you get ideas on how to mix and match.

Reviewed June 2017

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