5 Ways to Build a Work Wardrobe on a Budget 

I’m sure I am not the only one who doesn’t jump for joy when shopping for work attire. For one, you might feel restricted in what you wear because of the dress code. You also might hate having to spend money on clothes that aren’t as fun as what you wear outside of the office. Here are a few ways I save money when shopping for work clothes.

1. Start with the Basics

The best way to save money when building a work wardrobe is to start with a basic foundation. For most professions, this means:

  • 1 black suit
  • 1 navy suit
  • 1 little black dress
  • 1 crisp white button down shirt
  • 1 crisp light blue button down shirt
  • 2 shells in any color
  • A pair of black pumps

When you have these pieces, it’s easier to mix and match to create new looks, which cuts down on the number of items you purchase. I’m sure it will take time to build this foundation, but check out my next tips for how to acquire these items without blowing through your budget.

2. Consider Thrifting & Resale Shopping 

No lie, about 75% of my work wardrobe consists of pieces I’ve purchased at thrift stores and resale shops. In fact, I just went on a small shopping spree and picked up some awesome items to add to my work wardrobe. Check out my Haul here

Thrifting and resale shopping for work clothes is no easy feat. It takes lots of patience (and a lot of luck if you’re looking to purchase an entire suit), but it is well worth the time if you can find a nice, quality name-brand suit for $20 (true story). Also, consider having an item altered if it’s doable. For more info on thrifting in general, check out my Thrifting Survival Guide here.

3. Always Check out the Sales & Clearance Section First! 

This rule goes for work attire or regular clothing, ALWAYS CHECK THE CLEARANCE AREA FIRST! You never know what kind of treasures you will find. Also with suits, sometimes stores like The Limited have sales where you can buy a blazer and skirt and get pants for free! This is a great way to mix and match pieces, which provides you with even more options.

4. Invest in a Steamer

Although this is more of a maintenance tip for work attire, I think it applies here. Taking your clothes to the cleaners weekly adds up and can become a hassle. If all you’re needing is for your clothes to look crisp, just steam them! You can find steamers on Amazon for $20 or less. They’re quicker and much more convenient than having to drag your shirts and suits to the cleaners every week. Steaming may also be more gentle on your clothing than dry cleaning, which will allow them to last longer which results in savings!

5. Buy More Dresses!

I love wearing dresses to work as opposed to skirts, slacks, and suit. First, they’re usually more comfortable and fit me better than other work attire separates. Second, you can throw on a blazer and you’re out the door. Third, they’re an entire outfit in one, which is great if you’re in a rush. You don’t have to find a top and blazer – you can simply grab a cardigan and you’re ready! This also cuts down on the number of items you have to purchase.


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