Look good at work for less

How to Build an Affordable Business Casual Wardrobe

by Pam Hutzler


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    Building a Business Casual Wardrobe

    According to the Department for Professional Employees, in 2013, women made up more than half of the professional and technical workforce in the United States. If you are one of these women, undoubtedly, at some point, you found yourself in a quandary about appropriate attire for the office. Or maybe you're new to the workforce and faced with a closet filled with jeans, t-shirts, and the suit you borrowed from a friend for the interview that landed you the job. You can quickly assemble a basic business casual wardrobe that won't break your bank by using some simple fashion tips and by shopping smart. Read on to find smart ways to assemble a wardrobe that you can wear every week without it being obvious that you only have one week's worth of clothes in your closet.

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    Know What You Have

    As with any grand adventure, you need to have a starting point. How can you build on your wardrobe when you don't even know for sure what's lurking in your closet currently?

    Remove everything from your closet that's even remotely appropriate, sans the hot little outfit you wore to last summer's OneRepublic concert. After all, every woman has to have one sacred outfit that makes them feel utterly fabulous. Once you take care of dangling buttons, fix a few loose hems and polish some shoes, you may find that you have a few things for your starting point.

    Also, do you see a trend in the clothes that you separated for work? Do you have one skirt, one pair of dress pants, and one jacket? Do you have these three in brown or grey? How about navy blue? Or beige? If you're seeing a compilation of basic colors, that's even better! You're one step ahead in building a great business casual wardrobe.

    Related: Revamp Your Wardrobe
    Replacing Lost Buttons

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    Start with the Basics to Keep It Simple

    You'll want to keep your colors basic. Some good choices are black, navy, khaki, and white. Try to stick with three solid, neutral colors for pants, skirts, etc. Add five nice tops and you'll be set for one week. Maybe you want an exciting wardrobe that keeps up with your over-the-top personality and a wardrobe of basic colors really doesn't thrill you. Don't worry. Your personality will come into play with the extras.

    Related: 5 Ways to Save on Women's Clothing

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    Add Visual Interest with the Extras

    Beautiful scarves tied various ways can add a lot of interest to your outfits. Plus, since all your pieces basically work together, you can mix and match to spice things up a bit. If you're not sure how to wear a scarf, check out all the interesting ways a scarf can update your wardrobe on Pinterest.

    Maybe scarves really aren't your thing. Then consider adding a few blazers to your wardrobe as an easy way to dress up an outfit. And don't even think about paying retail for these extras! Head to your favorite thrift or consignment store for a few great finds.

    Related: How a Scarf Can Add Style to Your Outfit

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    Shop Secondhand

    Thrift stores are your best bet for building a business casual wardrobe with very little money. If you're willing to take the time to search and try new things, you'll find that shopping at thrift and consignment stores is equivalent to a treasure hunt. On a good day, you may even score a few items with the original tags still attached.

    If you're more "techie" in nature, you're in luck! Thrift stores are no longer confined to brick and mortar. Online clothing resale sites are popping up all over the world wide web. So, open up your laptop and start your quest.

    Related: Recycled Clothing 101
    Online Clothing Resale Shops

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    When You Just Need Some Help...

    Maybe the idea of putting together a business casual wardrobe by yourself sends you into panic mode. We all need help occasionally. It's okay. If this is the case for you, make an appointment with a personal shopper at one of the larger department stores. Generally, it's a free service.

    Tell your personal shopper what you want and how much you can spend, and they will take it from there. They know their stock and will start you off with basic pieces in your price range. You get to try the clothes on and have someone else's opinion on how well they suit you. Most importantly, if they start to bring you pieces that are pushing your price point, don't be afraid to speak up quickly to get them back on track.

    Related: Dress Like a Diva on a Thrift Store Budget

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    Get Social

    You've visited local thrift stores and found a few great pieces for next to nothing. Or maybe you took the personal shopper route and let the experts guide you. But, you find that you're still missing a few items that would seal the deal on a great business casual wardrobe. It's time to get social. While most use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, a great new use of Facebook is "the user group." These user groups are basically regional bulletin boards for sale of household items, furnishings, houses, vehicles, and clothing! These groups are searchable on Facebook by name or city of origin. Give it a try! You'll likely find local people selling great items at great prices. What's not to love?

    Related: Buying and Selling with Facebook Groups

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    Ready for First Day

    You did it! You put together a great wardrobe that'll make you the envy of your co-workers. We all know that clothes most certainly don't define today's woman. But, it's always nice to feel great at work as you wow them with your outstanding contributions.

    Related Articles:

    Looking Professional
    Saving Time and Money at Work


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