Cents and SensibilityDressing for the Job You WantMary Dacuma

There’s a saying in the corporate world that goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” That’s a tall order when the job you want is Senior Vice President, but the job you have is “Hey, at least you aren’t the intern.” Business attire is expensive. And unlike a splurge-worthy cocktail dress, if you are on a Monday-Friday work week you are going to need more than just one or two outfits in your closet. Not to worry, though. It is very possible to build an executive wardrobe on an entry-level budget. It just takes a little thought, effort and discipline.

1) Stick to the classics – I know we are all about defending the trend. But when it comes to your work wardrobe, stick to the perennial favorites – pencil skirts, straight leg trousers, crisp white shirts, black suits. These pieces will have more lasting power than trendier items. They are also more versatile for different corporate situations.

2) Mix and match – I firmly prescribe to the Jack’s Mannequin lyric, “When did society decide that we have to wash a T-shirt after every individual use? If it’s not dirty, I’m gonna wear it.” It’s easier to keep your outfits fresh when you purchase separates instead of dresses. Keep your separates in mind when you shop to ensure that you have a cohesive wardrobe with plenty of options.

3) Check the outlets – Workplace fashion is fairly static. There’s a good chance that last season, or even last year’s styles are just as cute this year and in the many years going forward. Purchasing these clothes at outlet prices allow you to purchase quality business attire at fast fashion prices.

4) Follow the care instructions -Fabric care instructions are not just friendly suggestions. Washing and drying your clothes the right way prevents tearing, fading and pilling and will help you get the most wear for your money. To lower your dry cleaning costs, use an at-home dry cleaning system like Dryel or only purchase machine washable clothing.

5) Find a good tailor – Sizing changes are just a part of life. But rather than purchasing new items, you might be able to save money by finding a tailor who can alter the clothes you already have. Even if you don’t change sizes, it’s handy to have a go-to tailor for ruined zippers, hemline adjustments and other wardrobe malfunctions not worth doing yourself.

With savvy budgeting, smart shopping and meticulous care you can build a notable business professional wardrobe over time that fits your style and your budget. And when dressing for the job you want turns into getting the job you want, you will have the skills and discipline to continue shopping smartly at your new pay grade.

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