How to Build a Work Wardrobe on a Budget

Confession time, I really love buying work clothes. I spend over 70% of my week in work clothes, so it’s a good thing I love them so much. I’ve always worked in a business professional environment, so I have to be pretty conservative with my workwear choices. I feel like my work style has evolved over the years and has grown along with my career.

I have a few rules I follow when buying my workwear. Working in consulting and traveling every week for a few years taught me the value in keeping things simple and making sure everything in your wardrobe is mix and match.

Know when to splurge

There are a few key pieces I’ve spent good money on over the years. Having an amazing suit, a quality bag, a good coat, and a few pieces of good jewelry are my splurge staples. The first major purchase I made after I started working was a Louis Vuitton MM Neverfull Tote bag. It was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made because the bag has held up so well. Quality really does matter and your things will last so much longer if you buy great quality. The other best investment I’ve made is a trench coat. It seems like something most people wouldn’t notice, but it is the simplest way to look pulled together in cooler weather. Splurging on just a few key items is going to save you in the long run from having to buy everything new more frequently.

Save on pieces that change with the seasons

Here’s the truth, I need washable, easy to care for work blouses. I don’t have time for silk everything and dry cleaning all my clothes. My favorite stores for work blouses are LOFT, Banana Republic, and J.Crew Factory. All three stores constantly have sales and the clothes are good quality, but easy to care for.

Buy a watch

The best accessory advice I have is to invest in a nice looking watch. I’m just as obsessed with my phone as the next millennial, but in a professional world I can’t use it as my watch. Also if you find yourself talking to someone you don’t want to be talking to, looking at your watch is still the international sign for oh look it’s time for me to be anywhere else. The great thing is, a nice watch doesn’t have to cost that much. There are great options under $100 and if you pay attention for sales at Nordstrom or Bloomingdales, you can get a great watch, like a Michael Kors, at almost half the price.

Stick with a mix and match color palette

I’ve mentioned before I typically only wear black, grey, cream, and blush. One, these are the colors that work best with my skin tone and two, I can wear pretty much everything in my wardrobe with each other. Sometimes I would be traveling for 2 or 3 weeks straight without coming home, therefore I’d have to get creative if I wanted different outfits. Keeping your wardrobe simple is not only cost-effective, but it makes picking outfits so much easier. We all need one less thing to stress about.

Wear flats everywhere

You’re probably wondering how this advice will save you money. My trick for keeping my heels in great condition without having to buy new ones ore repair mine is to wear flats on my way to work and changing when I get there. If you walk or take the train to work this is kind of a no brainer, I lived in flats in NYC. But even when my commute is driving, it can really wreck my heels from the angle of my foot. So I wear flats to and from work which probably not only saves my heels but my feet too.

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  • Today on A Study in Chic we’re talking about how women apologize too much at work and what to say instead. It’s something I started doing a few years ago and it’s helped me immensely in feeling more confident and in control. I’m sharing what I did to stop apologizing and what you can say instead. .
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