Dress For Success : When should you choose affordability over quality?

Coming right out of school, most of our wardrobes consist of jeans, night looks, and lounging attire. Little of it qualifies as work appropriate, but (oh, no) you just landed that job in city and now you have nothing to wear on Monday! First, let me start by congratulating you on your big step forward! Second, let’s talk wardrobe.

Unfortunately in most work environments, it’s frowned upon to wear repeat outfits during the week, which means you’ll need at least 5 different outfit combinations. And since you need the new clothes fast, you’re met with a dilemma: how do I save as much money as possible while getting everything that I need? And it’s a valid thought. After all, you haven’t started making the big bucks anyways! 

What you need are some simple tips to get you started. Some wardrobe items WILL require you to make a bit of an investment (so be prepared for that), but others can be bought for so much cheaper and you won’t notice much difference. Look no further, and good luck shopping!


Oftentimes you should never buy inexpensive blazers unless they fit you great off the hanger. Beware of cheaply made materials for blazers if your plan is to get it altered because some cheap fabrics will not alter well. If you are already prepared to alter a blazer (say you have this amazing seamstress), invest in an expensive, well-made blazer. And make sure it’s timeless and you’ll love it forever, because a good blazer might last you that long! You generally only need one or two of these. And, generally, since it may take some time before you find the right one, don’t stress about wearing one your first week. But do start looking now! How great would it be to have it all set for your first important meeting?


When it comes to dress shirts and blouses, it’s not too difficult to find some great options for a lower price. In fact, shirts will be a high turnover item in your wardrobe, so cheaper is a better long-term decision. Keep in mind though, that everyone needs a couple of really good dress shirts/blouses, so invest in one or two and that’s all you really need. The rest you can get from your typical department stores, H&M, or online. 

Especially since you’re tucking them in, the most important measurement to consider is to make sure they fit well on your shoulders. Secondly, men will want to make sure the arm length is right, while women will want to focus more on bust fit. 


Pants are all about finding a good fit and matching the rest of your waredrobe. And keep in mind that length will almost always need to be altered. Good work appropriate pants can become expensive, approaching nearly $100.00 for a great pair. Follow our trend and buy at least one great pair. If you want something to match your blazer, do that. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to mix and match. For a typical week, at minimum, it’s best to have three pairs. 

A note of great importance for when you’re tying to save, is if your planning to get them altered anyways, head straight for the sales rack and buy a pair for cheaper because it will only be slightly more expensive for the increased alteration. Scoring a $30.00 to $40.00 pair with $30.00 alterations is still a great deal compared to the fancy $100.00 ones that still need hemming!


When it comes to shoes, many of us will assume to prioritize quality and deal with the enpensive price, but fight this urge! When it comes to the workplace there are other options to consider. For one, you should only need about two pairs, at least to start. Be prepared to spring for an expensive, formal pair (likely over $150.00), but you can go far cheaper and slightly less formal for the other. 

For “the other one” just make sure they’re comfortable and you’re good to go! If you treat your work shoes well, you’ll be surprised by how long lower quality pairs can last you. However, if you’re typically rough with your shoes, you may also find yourself surprised by how easily your cheap finds can disintegrate in an office setting. Similar to blouses though, if you don’t plan to have them for long, say you change up your style often, then choosing to buy cheaper made shoes is a great option. In general, a great pair can last you years so make sure you also pick a style that your can love for that long. Ladies, if you’re going to wear heels to the office, choose comfort over price every time. If the expensive ones are comfier, then get them! You’ve hit the jackpot. 


Socks are funny dressings. Some people choose patterns, some try to match them to their pants, others will ONLY wear black. Regardless of your style, please don’t go crazy buying expensive socks… just buy a decent quality cotton blend in bulk. Yes, like 20 pairs at once, because you will always need them. 


Let’s clear up a couple of misconceptions. No, you don’t need that $300.00 watch for your first week. And no, you don’t need new jewelry. 

Keep it simple and buy accessories later on when you start making bank! You say you absolutely  NEED a tie or a belt? Buy cheap. And if you wear it enough, then invest in a more expensive version later on. You aren’t trying to attract fish are you? So keep all that glitz away from the office and save it for formal occasions and fishing trips. Keep it simple at the office. Such items are not the status pieces that they used to be!

When it comes to buying a new wardrobe, it can be an ordeal. If you take away anything, remember that you don’t want to go all out right away. Always focus on one or two really high quality items, as mentioned above, and you’ll be just fine. Who knows, maybe you won’t even need to dress above clean casual for the role! Gauge your workplace and figure out a personal style as the days go on. Get tips by looking around at your coworkers, and stay tuned for how you can stand out and be the best dressed guy or gal around!

#DressForSuccess , impress and expect nothing less. 


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