In order to keep this site going (at no cost to you!) this guide may contain affiliate links. All of the products mentioned have been used and personally tested by me!
Like most business owners I’m the face of my brand. So I want to represent myself with well and build a good reputation. This means building a wardrobe on a budget that makes me feel confident!
As my blogging career has taken off, so has the amount of seminars and conferences I’m attending, which means I need a wardrobe that’s fabulous, professional and modern.
Since I work as a finance and organization expert for entrepreneurs and small businesses, I already have some good career clothing staples in my closet.
But I haven’t been shopping for anything new, since I started getting out of debt. With several more work trips already around the corner, I’m looking to build a professional wardrobe for less.
Here’s how to inject some life into your personal or career wardrobe, without spending a fortune.
1. Look for bridge lines
A bridge line is created when high-fashion brands team up with lower-priced retailers to create an exclusive fashion line. So you get fashion from your favorite designer, with the same high quality designs, for a budget-friendly price.
2. Invest in quality pieces
Finding quality pieces aren’t limited to normal department stores alone. You can find contemporary, high quality brand names and discount stores.
Since they purchase end-of-season extras from other stores at a lower cost, they can pass along bigger discounts to customers.
Banana Republic is one of my favorite stores for clothes that fit immaculately well and are reasonably priced. Some of my other favorite places for inexpensive professional clothes, include Old Navy and New York & Company.
3. Check out second-hand stores
To take advantage of a good second-hand store strategy, you’ll want to learn about the different types of second-hand shops.
Most thrift stores are run by charities or businesses that re-sell donated and used goods, at a fraction of the original price. The quality of the merchandise varies, but sometimes you will find brand new items, after a diligent search. Examples of thrift stores include Goodwill and Salvation Army.
These stores operate differently than regular thrift stores, and act as a middleman between the sellers and buyers. An owner will bring in their items to the store for the shop to sell, and then split the proceeds. Consignment stores often sell higher quality clothing and home decor, compared to thrift stores.
Antique or vintage shops
As the description states, these shops only deal in antiques and vintage items. They generally sell retro house wares, decor and clothing from a particular time period.
A lot of the merchandise has stood the test of time and depending on how rare it is, may cost a pretty penny. Other ways to find great deals at thrift stores include going on weekends or at the end of the month when stores need to move their merchandise.
Although shopping at a second-hand store doesn’t always mean you’ll find the best price. The good thing though, is that if you’re armed with a little knowledge and dedication, you can still make some decent finds.
4. Try a clothing swap
A clothing swap has multiple benefits; it decreases the clutter in your closet while giving you a chance to freshen up your wardrobe.
You’ll spend an afternoon with your friends while exchanging clothes, accessories and shoes. As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and if you have fashionable friends, you might find some really cool stuff.
5. Join a (free) members-only site
I found some awesome sunglasses and shoes from HauteLook, at a huge discount. I’ve also been able to score some great finds on Groopdealz. Sometimes the sales only last a day or two, so you have to be quick, but you can get up to 75% off retail prices.
The sites are free to join, but only members get access to the discounts.
6. Find free inspiration and ideas
While new clothes are expensive, creativity is free. Find free inspiration and ideas from places like Pinterest and YouTube.
Brainstorm outfits by looking at online boutiques and create your own collage with Polyvore.com. You can even follow a few fashion blogs and discover all the fun ways to spice up your work clothes while still looking professional.
7. Mix up your wardrobe
Try mixing up your wardrobe by re-purposing and reusing your items in a different way. I love making small changes like adding a scarf, wearing a belt or experimenting with layers, because they can add some much needed pizzazz to a lifeless closet.
Accessories are often less expensive than buying a new wardrobe, so mix it up with hats, sunglasses and costume jewelry.
The size of your budget doesn’t have to determine whether you’re fashionably professional or not. There are lots of options available if you’re willing to put in the time, and a little creativity.
What’s your favorite way for building a wardrobe on a budget while still looking professional?