How to Dress for Success and Still Spend Less
Ladies, are any of you out there like me? I hate buying clothes for work, because I know that work is the only place I'll wear them. They aren't particularly comfortable, and they certainly aren't my style outside of the office. On top of that, work clothes tend to cost more than any other clothes I buy. In fact, sometimes I feel like I should get an extra stipend just because I have to buy an entirely separate wardrobe full of clothes I would never otherwise choose to wear so that I can be presentable at the office.
Over the years, I've learned how to stretch my money when it comes to buying work clothes, so I can spend more of it on something I really want. Here are some of my ideas...
One Jacket, Several Outfits
Instead of buying a jacket for every suit or a blazer for every outfit, make the jacket itself your centerpiece. Then, you can find a jacket you love and create several work outfits around it. You'd be surprised at how many skirts and pants you can find that will go well with whatever jacket you choose, and no one will ever know that they weren't made to go together. And, if the outfits are different enough, people won't even notice that you wore the same jacket three times last week!
This is great in more ways than one. It saves you money (because you're not buying as many jackets and you're not buying overpriced suit combos). You get to choose your style (because you choose the jacket that's your centerpiece). You're more comfortable (because the jacket is so often the most uncomfortable part of an outfit). If there's a downside to this, I haven't found it yet.
Better Yet, Wear a Button-Down Shirt as a Jacket
Yeah, it sounds a little crazy, and it doesn't work with every button-down shirt in your closet, but you would be surprised at how often this does work (and I love it because of how it messes with people's heads). Here's the plan: wear a tee or a tank with a dressy neckline, and pull on a matching button-down. Keep the buttons unbuttoned and wear your shirt like a jacket. No one will really think it's a jacket, but it will have the same effect in people's heads.
If you're game to try this, look for button-down shirts that are dark colored or that have vertical stripes in neutral colors. Make sure the button-down you buy isn't too long or too short--it should fall to the place where you like your jackets to fall. Try it on with a tank or a shirt like the ones you'll most likely wear with it, just to check the effect.
Layers, Layers, & More Layers
Layering several different items, as long as it's done tastefully, can make some items of clothing that alone are too informal to wear to the office into something that's totally office appropriate. Try a couple of T-shirts of different lengths under another with simple gathering or ruching. Or, wear a couple of different-colored tanks under a white button-down shirt. Those are just a couple of ideas...seriously, the possibilities are endless here.
On top of being less expensive (tanks and tees costing less than most work shirts), you'll be more comfortable this way. And when you're more comfortable, you'll feel more like yourself, and it'll be easier to be at work all day.
Sometimes, You Can Get Away With a T-Shirt
No one will ever tell you this, but when you're wearing a jacket, particularly when you're going to keep it buttoned, most people won't focus on you long enough to tell if you're wearing a T-Shirt or something fancier. It's the same when you're layering a shirt under a button-down or a sweater. There's no need to spend as much on that under-layer as you do on what goes over it!
If you're worried, choose soft T-Shirts made with think material with decorations at the neckline. Just make sure it's something you'd be comfortable wearing outside of work, too, because that's how you'll save the most.
Let me know how you save money on work clothes. After all, we're all in this together!