I have a friend who goes to the most expensive department store and spends a fortune buying clothes. Specifically, he goes to the front of the men’s department and picks the clothes that are on display. He is an engineer and works for a rather cheap company that is full of cheap dressers. He is probably thinking that by getting better clothes he is dressing for success. However, the reality is that 99% of the people he works with will have no idea how “nice” his clothes is.
And if you’re reading this you are probably thinking how big of a mistake this person makes. Literally throwing money away on clothes. The point of this article is to share with you how I have been able to save money on work clothes and at the same time put together a pretty nice work wardrobe.
In case you didn’t know, I have been self employed for the past 8 years and have pretty much worn jeans and t-shirts on a daily basis. Last fall I got back into the workforce and became a financial analyst for a local company. I was able to build my wardrobe and not break the bank. Here is how I did it and what I learned along the way.
Dress the Part, Plus Some
First, you should take a long look at what others wear at your company. Most companies these days are casual but that doesn’t mean you should wear jeans and a polo shirt everyday. Find out what the more successful people are wearing and try to replicate their attire. After a while, you’ll notice that people that dress nicer end up garnering more respect from their peers. That’s because as much as people don’t want to admit it, looks do matter. And being professional is sometimes quite a bit about appearance. Each company has a range of acceptable clothing – make sure that you end up near the top of that range.
How to Find Inexpensive Work Clothes
The next step is to figure out how to get good quality clothes on the cheap. Start by going to a nice department store and looking on the clearance shelves. At Macy’s, I was able to find five pair of nice, name brand dress pants that were on clearance for 80% off. Some of them were less than $10 a pair. Of course, when you shop this way some of the clothes will not fit perfectly. However, I took all of mine to a tailor and for about $10 per pair, they fit and hemmed the pants so that they looked custom. I ended up with most of the pants I would need for work, and I spent less than what I used to spend on one nice pair of tailored pants. Of course, when you buy this way you can expect a pair or two to not make the cut. In my case, I had a pair that wrinkled almost instantly. I disliked them so much they went to goodwill and helped save me money on taxes.
Now that the pants were finished I moved onto picking up some shirts. It makes sense to keep looking for good deals on shirts, but when you find one that fits and is a great price, I recommend buying as many colors as they make. In my case, I started by buying 3 button up, dress style shirts. I wore them each a few times and realized that one of them didn’t fit well. One of them got super wrinkled after each wash and while I was wearing. The third shirt, however, was an “iron free” shirt that fit really well. I went back to that store in the mall and picked up 5 more colors of the same shirt. While I still pick up good deals when I see them, I can afford to add to my shirt collection slowly going forward.
That leaves me with footwear. Which was easy. I went to DSW – Discount Shoe Warehouse. I checked the clearance section in the back and found dozens of styles of dress shoes that were 40-70% off. I picked up one pair of slip ons and one lace up pair. I then went to Costco and picked up a 10 pack of black socks for $11.
And that’s it – I had enough clothes to get by for a few months and I managed to save a fortune compared to how I used to shop. I continue to look for new and stylish clothes when i get a chance, but I am in no hurry and actually feel a sense of satisfaction just knowing how much money I saved on men’s clothes.
Are you going through the same thing? Please share how you acquired your clothes and at what stores you were able to save at….