Dressing Professionally on a Limited Budget

Lauren Krause
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Purchasing professional attire on a limited budget isn’t always easy. However, a proper wardrobe is necessary if you want to be successful. A good rule of thumb is to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Fortunately, with a little creativity, dressing for success doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune.

Classic Staples

When you’re buying professional attire on a small budget, purchasing classic staples is the most important thing that you can do. Buy suit pieces in neutral colors, such as black, gray, navy and brown, so that you can pair the pieces with different shirts, shoes and accessories to create multiple outfits. Women purchasing pantsuits should also buy skirts that match the suit blazer to make it easy to mix things up a bit. It’s okay if your professional wardrobe only contains a few suits because by mixing and matching different pieces, you can wear your suits a couple of times a week.

Dress Shirts

Just because you’re purchasing classic staple pieces, your professional attire doesn’t have to be boring. It’s cheaper to purchase dress shirts than it is to purchase suits, so purchase dress shirts that will spice up your professional wardrobe a bit. Purchase shirts in multiple colors and styles. Just make sure the style of your dress shirt works well underneath your suit jacket. Men should stick with collared shirts, but can use their shirts to add pops of color to their outfits. Women can purchase both collared and uncollared shirts. This way, you'll look nice wearing your shirt without your suit jacket.


When you're purchasing professional attire, the one thing you shouldn’t skimp on is your shoes. You don’t want to spend the day suffering in shoes that hurt your feet just to save a few bucks. Instead, purchase one or two pairs of high-quality shoes in neutral colors. You only need enough pairs of shoes to match the rest of your professional attire. If money is really tight, purchase suits in black and gray and buy one really good pair of black dress shoes.


Inexpensive accessories are easy to find, and they can really dress up your outfit. Men can find wallets, cufflinks, ties and belts at reasonable prices. Play around with ties in various colors to change things up a bit. Women should look for low-cost costume jewelry, purses and hair accessories to dress up their outfits. Use different necklace styles and lengths to switch up your look, and use jewelry to transition your outfit from the office to after-work drinks.

Buying professional attire doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Stick with classic pieces that you can mix and match, and you’ll find out that your limited budget can go a long way.


Photo courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net



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    I remember the very first suit I bought was from a Salvation Army store. It had never been worn before, it had the inside tags and was an up to date and very expensive suit for dirt cheap. I had worn it on an interview and landed the job.

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