Guest post by Alice from Farewell Office
When buying my son’s school uniforms, I often lament, “Why can’t I have a uniform, too?” Working in a professional environment can strain the clothing budget, but you can be well-dressed without spending a lot of money. Here are some rules I follow:
1. Buy quality, and quality does not mean expensive.
Buying clothes at discount stores is rarely cheaper in the long term. After repeated washings, a pair of $15.00 slacks will rarely look presentable for more than one season. Instead it is more cost effective to put that $15.00 towards a pair of quality slacks that will last for many seasons.
By shopping sales (especially clearance) and using coupons, a pair of good quality slacks rarely costs much more. Also, do not disqualify garage sales and thrift stores. You would be astonished at the stylish, high-quality clothes people throw out.
2. Buy basic colors and timeless styles.
Stick to neutrals and simple styles. Stay away from skinny or wide leg cuts that will be out of style long before the item wears out.
3. Avoid seasonal fabrics, such as linen, wool and tweed.
Unless you live in a climate that is below freezing or scorching 11 months out of the year, you will get more wear out of season-less fabrics such as polyester/rayon/spandex blends. Also, I rarely buy long-sleeved shirts or sweaters.
One exception is cardigans. You will get more mileage from layering your pieces. For example, you can wear a short-sleeved shirt alone in the summer and then layer it under a cardigans in the winter.
4. Buy separates.
Buy a skirt and blouse instead of a dress. This will create more combination outfits, giving you the appearance of a larger wardrobe.
5. Accessorize with scarves, belts, and jewelry.
This allows you to cheaply change your look.
6. Buy trendy styles and colors at discount stores.
If you only wear it one season, you won’t have wasted much.
7. Get on the mailing list for high-quality retailers.
Many of them send out coupons and paired with sales, high quality items rarely cost more discount store items.
8. Ask stores if they offer additional discounts.
Some stores offer discounts on certain days of the week, and certain retailers offer discounts to certain professions. For example, several stores offer additional discounts to teachers.
9. Learn the mark-down days of your favorite retailers.
Be kind to your salespeople and they will gladly give you inside information like, “We make markdowns on Tuesday.” You then know that, if possible, you want to shop on Wednesday morning for the best selection.
10. Make your clothes last.
Change your clothes when you get home from work and always wash in a high quality detergent. Finally, hang dry your clothes as the dryer’s heat breaks down the fibers prematurely.
Dressing well and professionally on a budget is possible; you simply need to be a savvy and resourceful shopper.
Alice is a wife and mother, who also works full-time outside of the home. Her goal is to do all work “as unto the Lord.” Her blog Farewell, Office chronicles her journey to do all of this on a time-budget.