Sunday, March 13, 2011

Creating a Professional Wardrobe with a Budget

Our professional dress attire projects an image, making an impression on our everyday business contacts. Can our wardrobe make a favorable impact while keeping to a modest budget? Absolutely! Here are a few tips to create a practical and affordable, finely-honed wardrobe.

Organize, Plan, and Set a Budget

If you’re like many, you may find yourself shopping without a plan. The first step to pulling together a wardrobe is: organize your closet. This enables you to identify pieces you already have and those you need. Once you identify the items you need, set a feasible budget. Preferably, map out your purchases based on current savings. If you plan to charge purchases to a credit card, make certain you have the money available when the credit card bill comes due.

Buy Basics and Classic Styles

If you stick to the basics, you can mix and match items which aren’t dependent on the latest trends. Dress slacks, shirts, skirts, jackets, cardigan sweaters, comfortable dress shoes—all come in classic styles and neutral colors which can withstand the test of time.

Consider the Work Environment

Before you start shopping, think about your profession, work environment, and company culture. If you work in a field like banking or law, is the dress code more formal? If you’re in the process of interviewing, consider the types of companies you’re pursuing and general wardrobe standards. Will your responsibilities involve a lot of face-to-face client or internal management interaction that require a look of authority?

Look for Bargains but Don’t Overlook Quality

With so many retail options, both online and offline, it is very reasonable to put together an affordable business wardrobe. Shop outlet stores, thrift or resale stores, retailer clearance racks, and for out-of-season sale items. Sign up for retailer e-mail notifications about upcoming promotions or coupons. Look for bargains at garage and yard sales. Get creative and do a clothing swap with a friend. And don’t sacrifice quality for a few dollars of savings—your clothing should hold up over time.

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