Building a work wardrobe on a budget.

women in heels

How to build a work wardrobe on a budget.


I don't know about anyone else, but when I discovered that I'd landed myself my first full-time office job, one of the things I was most excited about (I mean, apart from the career prospects and all of that fun stuff), was finally being able to go shopping for 'business dress' appropriate clothes.

For me, my ultimate work-wardrobe would be something of a cross between the style of Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl and Jessica Pearson in Suits, and I've certainly started trying to channel a little more of both into what I wear.

However, business-dress doesn't always come cheap, and particularly if you've only just started in a new role, you may not have much spare cash to splash on an expensive trouser suit. And so, here are a few tips I've learned when shopping for, and building yourself up, a work wardrobe.


Start with the basics.

Okay, so I know that this is a pretty obvious one but it really is the best place to start. I'm talking 'cigarette' trousers, roll neck jumpers and flats a-la Audrey Hepburn, pencil skirts with a cami top and a cardigan a-la Rachel Zane, and a blazer in every colour that takes your fancy because trust me when I say - a good blazer can transform any outfit into being office-ready, and is very much worth the investment.


...And stick to the classics.

Classic pieces and styles will, well... never really go out of style, (they're called classics for a reason) and staple pieces don't always have to be expensive to be an investment. Blazers, black trousers, jumpers and a good pair of shoes could give you years of wear, and it's these kind of pieces that give off that 'effortless' vibe too.

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Quality not quantity.

This is one that took me longer than it should've done to grasp. I would buy a ~very~ cheap blazer from a high street store that is known for very fast fashion, and then wonder why 2 months later it was already bobbling and looking a little scruffy.

It is so much better to have fewer, higher quality pieces that you can wear for years than lots of cheaper items that you have to replace every few months anyway.

Higher quality doesn't always have to mean a super high price though, and investing in these kind of items will also really help to build your longer term personal style.


Know your shape.

Knowing your body shape, what suits you and most importantly, what you love the most on you, will really help when you start shopping. Don't just buy a pencil skirt because you think it's what you 'should' wear to the office if you hate them and can't even step up to the train because they're so restrictive (I've made this mistake many, many times).

Buy the clothes that you feel the most confident in, because not only will it help with your self confidence, but I find that if I feel good in my appearance, I work better and feel more motivated.

Have you ever had to build yourself a work wardrobe from scratch?

What would be your tips?