How to Buy Your Professional Wardrobe

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When you graduate and begin the job-hunting process, it is essential to have a professional wardrobe.

First, you'll need to have at least one suit for job interviews. Additionally, you may be expected to dress professionally at your job each day, so you'll likely need an assortment of dress pants and shirts, accessories, even a briefcase or professional bag.

But building a professional wardrobe quickly right after you graduate from college and before you start earning regular paychecks may be difficult. Read on for tips on how to dress professionally on a budget.

Focus on Your Interview Outfits

Your interview outfit should be impressive. Sure, you can shop for sales, but be sure to choose classic pieces that work in a business setting. Your ensemble can reflect your personal style, but it should be both conservative and classy.

Look for a suit that can work for both interviews and for everyday attire once you start your new job. You may also want to get a second shirt to go with the suit, in case you have more than one round of job interviews.

List the Basics You Need for Your Wardrobe

Prepare a list of items that will work for the rest of your professional wardrobe. For men, this should include shirts, ties, dress socks, and accessories such as collar stays, a watch, and shoes.

Women should have both dress slacks and skirts that will work in combination with your blouses and jackets. Pick pieces that coordinate and interchange well with each other.

Shop the Right Stores with Your List

Shopping the sales at high-end department stores and boutiques can help you to find clothing at a lower price. However, you should still be careful that you do not overspend.

Take a list of items or outfits that you are looking for and do not buy things that are not on the list. If you are worried about going over; switch to cash to cover these expenses.

Shop the Clearance Rack for Deals

Take the time to shop the clearance rack. It does take extra time and effort, but you may be able to find some excellent deals on clothing items.

When shopping the clearance racks, focus on items that will last for more than one season. Look for classic pieces that fit well. It helps to shop for clothing at the end of the season because you can find better deals.

Visit Consignment Stores

You can find great designer pieces and high-end clothing at consignment shops. Often these items have only been worn once or twice.

If you can find a good second-hand boutique type store, you may be able to save money on putting together your first professional wardrobe. Take the time to make sure that the items are free of stains and flaws before you purchase them.

Find Accessories That Work with Multiple Outfits

Accessories can make a huge difference in an outfit. However, do not spend too much on these items. Try to choose shoes that will work with several outfits. You can add more personal accessories over time once you have your job and you have been getting a regular paycheck.

Other Tips:

  • Once you have begun working you can update your wardrobe on a more regular basis. In fact, buying items slowly means that you can spread the cost throughout the year. Keep abreast of your favorite store's sales.
  • Organize your closet so that you do not buy multiple articles of the same item. For example, you do not need five black shirts or five black jackets. It is important to have variety in your wardrobe.
  • Keep in mind that your hair and makeup should also reflect a more professional image.

Updated by Rachel Morgan Cautero.