02 August 2012

Look like the Professional that you are: The top 7 ways to dress well on a budget

Like to dress well but don't have deep pockets? Or would rather holiday than line the pockets of the local boutique?

Looking professional and appropriate is still a requirement in business, even with the change to a more casual dress code in many industries. Plus it simply feels better to be looking your best!
Dressed to the Nines!

Armed with a little information, you can dress to the nines WITHOUT going into the red.

Here's how:
1.  Do a wardrobe stocktake. 

Take an inventory of your wardrobe and make a list of things you need. It can be therapeutic to get everything out of your wardrobe once in a while.  You can organise yourself, be reminded of what's hidden away at the back, and get rid of what you don't need or don't wear. 

Analysing your current wardrobe will help you see where you’ve been emphasising your purchases and where the gaps are. Buying a few select items to fill the gaps in your wardobe can create dozens of new style combinations.  And buying from a list will keep you focused and curb impulse buying. 

Give away any unwanted quality pieces to charity, or if you can be bothered, sell them online.  If you're not sure whether to relegate certain pieces to the charity bin, bag them up and store them.  If you haven't been to the bag in 12 months, don't even bother unpacking them.  It's time for them to go.

2. Buy the best quality of clothes that you can afford. 

They'll last longer, wear better, and ultimately, save you more money than buying inferior-quality pieces. It’s all about the real cost per wear. A cheap outfit, worn only a couple of times, is far more expensive per wear than a quality outfit worn time and time again.  With that said, don't spend a motza on something you're unlikely to wear all that often.  Spend your money on good quality staples that you'll wear over and over.  And then buy cheaper accessories to change the flavour of your look.
3. Buy classic styles. 

These will stand the test of time and not date you as easily as buying into trends. Update less expensive items such as shirts and accessories to modernise your wardrobe on a budget.  Every so often though, it can be wonderfully uplifting to play and have fun with your look.  It's okay to occasionally buy a bold / fun piece to add 'chutzpah' to your look.  You'll treasure it (and because you love it, you're more likely to wear it more often and outside of just your professional wardobe).

4. Opt for mix-and-match separates.

Five well-chosen shirts combined with two pairs of pants will give you ten combinations. Add in two different jackets and you're up to 20 combinations. Two head-to-toe ensembles that don't go with anything else will only give you two combinations.  You can spice up your look even further with fun and inexpensive accessories.

5. Aim for a primary colour scheme. 

Build your wardrobe around three to five colours that look good on you (and that work well together). Not only will this allow you more mix-and-match opportunities, it will reduce the number of accessories that you need.  For example, mixing black, red, white and tan can produce a gazillion striking combinations.

6. Opt for solids over patterns.

Solids mix and match more easily and are less easily remembered than prints...which will make you look like you have a lot more clothes than you really do. Play with patterns in your accessories.

7. Buy on sale whenever possible. 

Join your favourite store's mailing list to take advantage of ‘insider’ sales notifications. Also frequent the designer or ‘seconds’ shops.  If you're into it, you can also do the rounds of the consignment stores in the best part of town. With a little bit of persistence, you can find quality pieces at affordable prices. But beware buying an item just because it's on sale.  Discipline yourself to stick to your wardrobe plan.  Unless of course you absoutely LOVE it - then its absoutely worth it!

Dressing well doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you take a little time to plan your needs and treat your wardrobe like the investment that it is, you can make a little go a long way. You can also look like you spend a lot of money on your clothes when all you're really doing is combining a few well-chosen, high-quality pieces.