How to Create a Professional Work Wardrobe on a Budget

Here’s some quick, budget style tips for those of us, whether it by choice or by force, currently out there interviewing for a new job.

work wardrobe

It’s All About The Key Pieces

-Some of the key clothing pieces for a professional wardrobe are a black suit, black pumps, tote bag, a couple of camisoles/ blouses, a nice black or brown pencil skirt,  and two very nice dresses (one a little black dress and one dress in another color) that you can wear to business related evening events. There’s a reason why I believe you should purchase items in black and brown—you can wear these items several times a week, making sure to change up the accessories/ tops, without anyone noticing that you’re wearing the same item over and over.

Keep it Simple

– Your job hunting wardrobe isn’t the time to start to express yourself through clothes, although I do think you should wear an interesting (but not gaudy or trendy) accessory near your face to draw the employers attention to what you’re saying. For the most part, start with the basics: a nice black suit, a pair of closed toed black pumps, and a basic camisole or shell. Yes, it’s boring, but when you’re job hunting you want folks to focus on your skills and not on your clothing.

Find Items That Can Serve Double Duty

– I don’t believe in setting percentages as to how much of your income you should spend on clothing because there are times when you may need to spend more and times when you shouldn’t spend a dime. Focus on items that can serve double duty, like a tote bag that can be your weekend shopping bag and your briefcase or a black dress that you can wear to the office and for an evening event.

Practice Your 70/30 Rule

-The goal is to buy the best quality items you can afford. However, realize that quality and price are not synonymous.  You can get some great, high quality items, the same items you find at department stores, for much less at places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Ross. You want to use the 70/30 rule– meaning 70% of your closet should be classic pieces (your perfect ten) and 30% trendy fun pieces.

Limit Your Dry Cleaning

Avoid dry cleaning. This is such a money zapper. I know dry cleaning is easier and few like to iron, however this is not the time to be lazy. Buy a bottle of Febreze or make your own, and squirt your suits down after each use.

Perfect Ten: Creating The Perfect Work Wardrobe

Work outfit consisting of blazer, white top and striped pencil skirt.

How many times have you looked into your closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear” If you hear yourself uttering this statement more often than not, you have a dysfunctional closet. It is probably missing several key pieces that allow you to easily transition from one outfit to the next. It’s time to stop the insanity and get a functional closet.

See our post on 9 classic wardrobe pieces that should be in every woman’s wardrobe, is the best remedy to a dysfunctional closet. It’s truly amazing the number of outfits that can be made when these items rest in your wardrobe.

Along with your signature item, the majority of your shopping dollars should be spent on classic, well made versions of these items that fit your personal style.

Catherine Brock

Owner and Editor at The Budget Fashionista
As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.
Catherine Brock