Frugal Fashionista’s Guide to Building a Professional Wardrobe Without Breaking the Bank

So, you’ve finally finished college and landed your first ‘real’ job. Congrats! But as your first day on the jobs approaches, the inevitable question, “What am I going to wear?” pops into your head.

As someone who held five internships, and has a current full-time job, I have acquired my fair share of business attire. I will also be the first to say that as a young professional, it can be difficult to build a classic wardrobe on a major budget, but I’ve managed to build a pretty solid base. Below are a few tips:

Gabes white Tshirt, Charming Charlie necklace, Cynthia Rowley pencil skirt (TJ Maxx), Forever 21 wedges (found at Gabes)

1. Survey what you already have. I’m a huge fan of chiffon and silk tops, because they can be worn casual or dressed up. Ballet flats, slacks, sometimes dark wash jeans, classic heels, blazers and cardigans are also great staples in a professional wardrobe. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that as I mature, my wardrobe naturally does so as well, which is great, because I have a lot of items that can cross over.

Express blazer (purchased at Gabes), Gap pants ($12 on clearance), nude pumps (Payless!)

2. Avoid high-end stores. Unless they’re having a major sale, avoid high-end department stores if you’re shopping on a budget. I prefer to shop at stores like Gabriel Bros, TJ Maxx (I’ve found Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren here among other designer brands), Marshall’s, Target, H&M (they have GREAT skirts and blazers) and sometimes even Forever 21. These stores are especially good for buying statement jewelry, which you don’t need to spend a lot of money on.

Charlotte Russe top, black Gabes pencil skirt, Candies pumps (Khol’s)

3. When to splurge: You should only splurge on items you know you will have for a very long time i.e. leather pumps or flats, pearls, diamond studs, nice watch, leather brief case. If you do decide to splurge on these items, make sure they in classic colors, cuts and styles so you’ll be able to wear them season-to-season.

Just remember, you can’t expect to go into ‘bargain’ stores (especially thrift stores) and expect them to have everything you want or need the first time you go in. You may have go to back a few times to find what you’re looking for, and you have to be prepared to dig.

Forever 21 top, NY&Co Pants, Steve Madden pumps.

Check out more of my outfits on my Pinterest ‘What I Wore’ board.





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