4 Tips to Build a Work Wardrobe on a College Budget

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Right now, is the time a lot of us are starting to make plans for the future — jobs, internships, grad school, etc. Interview season is right around the corner and I’ve found that I have less work appropriate clothes than I thought. The problem with work clothes is that it’s expensive to buy a bunch at one time. I know I can’t afford to go to J. Crew and drop $300 on a blazer and a shirt on a college budget.  

Here are some tips for how to shop on a budget:

1. Look for quality items in places like Target, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. These bargain stores have really done a lot to offer shoppers quality clothes at a lower price point. Make sure you assess things like the quality of the stitching and material before you make a purchase.

2. Don’t buy it all at once. It’s much less of a shock to your bank account if you buy items one at a time. Even when you do shop at bargain stores, you can be tempted to buy more because of the lower price points. You’ll end up spending more money than you planned without realizing it. You should set a limit each month and buy one or two items at a time.

3. Use the Internet to your advantage. I know a lot of people are hesitant about shopping online but I promise you, it’s amazing! There are a lot of great Internet only retailers that offer fashionable clothes at great price points. One of my personal favorites is ASOS, a British website and the world’s biggest on-line clothing store. The clothes come quickly and shipping is free to the US. There are also sites like Price Ambush and Street Prices, which will allow you to shop for items by price from numerous websites.

4. Buy things on sale. This tip is pretty obvious but did you know that there are websites out there that will tell you when things go on sale?! On these websites you tag items that you’re watching and the website will send you an e-mail when the item is about to go on sale. PricePinx, Gazaro, and Shop It To Me are all great to use.

Now that you’ve got the budget friendly shopping tips down, we move onto the question: What should I buy? When in fashion doubt, I turn to my girl Lauren Conrad and Marie Claire. Between the two sources, I’ve come up with working girl wardrobe basics:

-White button down. It’s a classic piece that you can wear under blazers or sweaters, or on its own.

-Black trousers. Another classic. You’ll always need pants in a neutral color and black is always a good choice.

-A blazer. A well-fitting blazer in black or navy. The fit is really important for this garment, so see a tailor to make sure it fits well. Going to a tailor is another adult thing but I promise it’s not as expensive as it sounds! It will pay in the long run.

-Black pumps. “Putting your best foot forward” is a saying for a reason. Professional shoes will help you feel the part.

-Neutral flats. Your foot will thank you.

-Work purse. A nice bag in a neutral will go a long way.

-Pencil skirt. A pencil skirt is probably the most work appropriate cut out there. Make sure it’s not too short or tight though. Go no higher than two inches above your knee.

-A nice belt. People always forget about the little things like a nice belt but believe me, it makes a difference to the overall look of your outfit.

-A good sweater or cardigan. A lot of offices are kept cool, so having  nice sweater to wrap around your shoulders is a must.

After you’ve picked up these basics, start punching up your wardrobe with accessories like jewelry to add interest to your outfits. Throw a few printed blouses and another pair of pants in the mix, and you’ll have an interview/work friendly wardrobe in no time!

[Lead image via Zoom Team/Shutterstock]

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