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Dress well for work on a budget

Business attire has changed drastically over the last 20 years, and especially in certain industries, the more casual and comfortable look is encouraged by employers. However, certain companies do require a more defined and professional dress code to maintain the professional image of the business and its employees.  Whether you like it or not, your appearance plays an essential role in the modern workplace. How you dress for work is a powerful extension of your brand.

Being dressed for success does not have to blow your budget.  With a few smart decisions, you can look professional and stay within budget.

Shop smartly

Before you go shopping, assess what you have and what you need.  Be sure of what is appropriate dress for your industry and company.  

  • Buy quality and not quantity.  Rather buy one, quality item that can be worn often.
  • Don’t spend on trends.
  • Don’t be afraid to shop at budget or second-hand stores.
  • Shopping online can be very good for your budget, provided you know your exact size and style.  Returning items can be costly if it is allowed.
  • Have a look out for Swap parties/events. This is the perfect place to get quality, and most often, branded items for a steal.
  • Don’t waste money on fake brands.  Fake brand names are poor quality and will look like it after several washes.
  • Avoid busy prints and stick to solid colours. Prints limit you and cannot be worn as often as it is memorable. Know the colours that suit your complexion as well – a good quality fitted jacket will lose all its glamour and shine if it makes you look washed out and tired.
  • Basic, does not have to mean boring either.  A good quality plain white shirt with a lace collar or bell sleeves can be worn with a variety of outfits and still look great.
  • Mix and match. For every item you buy, you need to be able to at least wear it with three other items in your closet.
  • Have a look at the washing instructions.  Be realistic about the effort and time required to maintain your clothes.  A shirt that can only be hand washed and a cardigan that requires dry cleaning is not what you are looking for on a budget.

Make sure your clothes fit well

The fit of the clothes will make or break the outfit. If your clothes are too big or too small, it will not look good, no matter what amount of money you spent on it.

  • Simple alterations can be made at a reasonable price by your dry cleaner.  Clothes on sale and at the end of the season, are usually the odd sizes. For a small fee, a few alterations can be made, and it will look and fit you far better than the full priced item.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes – it doesn’t look good.  

Accessorize

Don’t underestimate the power of accessories, for your overall look as well as your budget.  Let your personality shine through. Don’t be afraid of colour.

  • Good, clean and comfortable shoes will complement any outfit. For the ladies, heels look more professional but if you can’t walk comfortably, stick to pump heel or a flat shoe instead.
  • A well-structured bag completes the professional look.  You seem more organised and in control. This rule applies to handbags and laptop bags. Rather spend money on one decent bag than multiple poor quality and shapeless bags.
  • By mixing and matching statement jewellery pieces, you can transform plain outfits completely.
  • Let scarves help you indulge in bright colours and patterns. A scarf with multiple bright colours can be worn with various outfits.

If you follow these easy steps you can look and feel professional on a very tight budget.  At the end of the day all that matters is that your clothes are appropriate, neat and clean. If you have these fundamentals right, it doesn’t matter if you have to wear the same shirt three days of the week.

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