How Men Can Save Money Dressing for Work

by on March 12, 2013

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….

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Aayna from microsoft access 2013 training March 17, 2013 at 6:14 am

Expensive work clothes actually unbalance the budget. You have rightly pointed to the issue of the expensive clothes, which has been left in abeyance for quite a while through this post. The tips shared for the purchase of inexpensive clothes are effective and worthwhile. Thanks for the share.
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Veronica from gazebo sydney March 19, 2013 at 1:49 am

I have a friend who dresses inappropriately for work since our company never set guidelines for proper office wear. There are times when she dresses sluttily and I can\’t help but feel a bit pissed. I believe in freedom of expression, and if that\’s the way she wants to dress, then so be it. Unfortunately, our boss seems to think otherwise, they often do not rely on her for heavier officework because they seem to assume that she does not look good for the job being designated.

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Mitch Carson June 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I agree, physical appearance is their first impression. If you don’t wear professional attire, so as what they think who you are.

and about this article, Well said.

keep it up. 🙂
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Joy from bamboo fences March 19, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Dressing up for work is really not a bad idea. In fact, it does a lot to your confidence and, you’re right, you are somehow treated with more respect when you dress up nicely. I admire the effort you took to find affordable clothes. You don’t really have to spend much to find respectable clothes. In my case, since I’m a girl, different accessories do the trick. I can wear simple and not-so-new clothes; when I pair them with trendy accessories and selected jewelries, I get decent and different looks all the time.

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Sandra from gazebo perth March 20, 2013 at 12:23 am

Very useful tips. As a female version of the species, I also like to wear trendy clothes at work without spending a lot of money. I’ll be trying your tips as soon as I’m about to go on a wardrobe change.

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Kristine from back yard ideas March 20, 2013 at 1:00 am

I completely agree with you. I worked for a company before where there was no actual dress code, but I still dressed myself properly. I don’t know if it was connected with the way I dressed, but our boss ended up giving me a lot of tasks which he could not entrust with anybody else.

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Emilia from seo company jaipur March 20, 2013 at 4:22 am

Before, i worked for a company with a basic regulation for office wear. I had a coworker who always looked as if he was dressing for success. Last time I heard, he was the manager.

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Stacey from executive coaching sydney March 20, 2013 at 6:52 am

Good ideas you have here. There are very good deals on clearance sale or even garage sale if we will just have the patience and time to look for them. The best clothes are not always the expensive ones; as long as it has the right fit, decent look, and you are comfortable wearing it, those should do the trick.

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Calra from bali hut kits March 21, 2013 at 5:58 am

You need to look good, decent, and respectabe when you work in an office. Dressing up for the occasion is important. However, there is no rule that says you should always wear designer clothes to get the respect that you want. Be wise and look for more affordabe clothes.

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Sargon March 21, 2013 at 6:00 am

Chris,I agree with your ideas of clearance sale . Usually i like to wear trendy clothes on my work place but its very hard to find it in nominal cost . So , now onwards i do first search for clearance offers or sale .
Great idea , want to hear more from your side so i can save more money .

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Vasiliki Karakatsanidis July 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Hello Sargon,
I absolutely agree with you and Chris with your ideas of clearance sales.I personally like
to wear trendy clothes, so does my husband and our son.We search for offers,discounts
and cash back without extra fees and save money.We are very excited on a cash back reward program we join,for FREE, and get cash on every purchase we make in very popular stores
and best of all BRAND NAMES.Be smart , use your cash back reward cards(not credit cards)
when you have to and save some money for your next shopping trip without guilt!
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Kelly from bali huts March 25, 2013 at 12:38 am

It\’s always nice to invest in expensive working clothes; but a pair or two will do. The rest of the wardrobe can come in affordable prices. It will always be how your carry the clothes that matters. Just like you, a few dollars can go a long way when you know where and how to look at the right places.

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T. Davis April 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Dressing up for work isn’t that bad of an idea. I know me personally I don’t have to wear the most expensive suit, but when I look good I feel good. This ultimately makes you more productive.
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Cash Loan April 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I think it’s much easier for guys to dress up nicely for work – as long as their clothes are clean, ironed and fit well, they will look nice! As for the ladies, I think it may be wise to invest in a few accessories, such as a quality bag, a few scarves and some jewellery – and that way you will always look stylish, even if you’re wearing boring-looking office clothes.

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Chris S April 26, 2013 at 7:38 am

I agree that it is much easier for men. You can basically rotate through a few pair of nice pants. For women, they need much more clothes because they typically wear more style, colors and accessories. I guess that’s why most clothing stores are mostly women’s clothing and the men’s clothing section is usually confined to the back corner of the department store.
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Buy dresses for eid July 17, 2013 at 7:03 am

Mostly men don’t have much problems about wearing stuff. but this article is a nice piece of information. Mostly it gets more expensive when a person starts a news job or just change the existing one. In my case it is always expensive to change the job because a lot cash is required to make an appeal of what you wear

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Luxury grooming for men August 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm

I used to wear trendy clothes specially the branded one, but after buying this clothes i always got realized that i should have do some research before buying the costlier one.This post given me new idea now i can go for cheaper clothes.Clearance sale is best idea and it will works better.

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Gypsy Dharma December 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Men’s dress clothes often times can be found for relatively cheap and make a much better impression than showing up in jeans or khakis for an interview. You’ll probably feel more confident as well.

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