Fashion: Workwear Staples on Budget

I’ve been attempting to create this post for a while, but taking the photos proved impossible. Laying the clothes out looked pretty horrendous, and outfit posts were a no-go living on my own in a tiny room. I was playing around with my camera over the weekend, snapped these on the clothes inside my wardrobe, and thought they were pretty decent. I will do outfit posts at some point though – issue being these clothes don’t actually fit that well anymore!
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Invest in Staples

Whilst there are areas you can save money, there are areas you really should avoid scrimping. A cheap quality pair of shoes or handbag can instantly ruin a look. Plus, cheap shoes often hurt, low-cost bags often don’t last. I find my satchels are a great workbag (surprise surprise) – they look smart, are a little briefcase like, and go with everything.

That being said, I was recently sent a jacket* (something I would usually budget a little more from) from Less Than 10 Pounds and was really impressed with the quality. Thick material and well cut, it fits like a glove. The only issue is it attracts hair like nothing else, I have to carry a lint roller to work when wearing it!

Tailor to Fit

If your clothes don’t fit, I feel it just looks a little unprofessional. Which is why I’m really bothered at the minute as it takes multiple safety pins to tighten my skirts enough to fit – the downsides to weight loss!

Tailoring doesn’t have to cost a fortune – I regularly have to get skirts and dresses shortened, which usually costs about £4-£5 to have done professionally. I’m currently trying to learn to take the waist in on skirts made of lighter materials – I have about 14 skirts needing altering so would sooner give it a go myself!
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Save on Basics

I don’t find it necessary to spend much on on items like shirts and cardigans – most of mine are from Primark or Dorothy Perkins. I find the extra £5 or so pounds spent in Dorothy Perkins does mean they last much longer (I still have ones left over from sixth form 3/4 years ago). Cardigans are also where I inject a bit of colour and seasonality into my outfit, so it’s good for them to be cheap so I can have plenty. I think I’m close to exceeding 20 now…
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Material Matters

I find going for a tweed or mottled material on sut skirts make it look a lot more expensive that it really is. I find completely plain black/grey/cream items to look a bit boring, but my skirts all cost less than £20, fit well, have lasted, are machine washable and look great.
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Make it Personal

Add colour, add bits that reflect your style. I always wear pussy-bow blouses as I find they are much more feminine. I also only wear baggier blouses (mainly as they never need ironing…).
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Hit the Sales

Shortly after I was successful in gaining a placement year, the House of Fraser in my home town shut down. I visited on the first day of the sale, and it was hell on earth. Women were physically fighting over clothes, children in prams abandoned. There was even a knife incident on one day. However four hours later (nearly two hours were spent queuing to try on as refunds weren’t available) I emerged with nearly £800 worth of clothes for £96. I picked up some amazing shift dresses (the only thing which really still fits me), jackets, and skirts. Hitting the sales means you can afford better quality and higher-end brands than you would otherwise. I also love browsing in charity shops – my vntage Dorothy Perkins pencil skirt is one of my best finds at £5!

 photo 2015-04-12 12.29.18_zpsvhq9zdvm.jpgBuilding up a workwear wardrobe is never going to be the cheapest, but doing it gradually and following some of my tips means it can be done on a budget. Keep an eye out for more workwear posts soon.

What do you wear to work? How do you recommend buying work clothes on a budget?

  • emily

    I view my work clothes as a capsule wardrobe-I want to be able to wear any of it with any other piece so that I can own the minimal amount of this stuff. Cause I’m a jeans and t shirt gal at heart. So I have a few colours I like (blue, cream, grey, pale pink) and only buy things in those colours. I’ve built up my collection slowly, so when I’m buying only one piece at a time i feel less bad about spending $50 on a dress.

    • ninegrandstudent

      Fair enough! My office is rather smart so I can’t really wear most of my workwear outside of work, though I get a lot of wear out of my shirts! I find non-matching suits means I can get more wear out of jackets too! x

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