How to Build a Professional Wardrobe on a Budget

As I near the end of my university career, I feel more pressure to look put together in hopes that I can impress potential employers, or even fellow colleagues. With that being said, I’m still a university student who does not have the cash flow to carelessly drop $300 on a J. Crew pantsuit. If you’re one of the many fellow collegiettes out there who faces the same dilemma as I do, then you need to check out these super easy and budget-friendly tips below!

Use the basics you already have

The good thing about dressing professionally is that it’s meant to look sophisticated without being complicated. In most work environments, if you can keep a clean and simple look, you’ll succeed at looking professional and put together. You can pull off wearing something as simple as a plain white t-shirt, just as long as it isn’t dirty or wrinkly. Even rocking a bodysuit, which is a huge trend right now, can be easy to pull off if you opt for the more neutral and darker colours to keep it appropriate.


Check out the budget stores you love

While budget stores like Forever 21, H&M, and Winners are well known for their trendier styles, you’d be surprised by the amount of professional clothing steals you can find between the racks. If you have the patience to hunt through these stores, then you can find amazing deals on items likes blouses and dress pants. Two of my favourite budget stores for dressy clothing are Dynamite and Zara.

Use your student discount!

A lot of stores that try to cater to young professionals will offer student discounts, among them are stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic. Both of these stores have great sales and even better clearance sections. It never hurts to ask any store if they offer a student discount, the worst they can say is no!

Only buy things you will actually wear

This goes for any type of clothing that you purchase. If youre not a skirt type of girl, then stick to a nice pair of trousers or dress pants. On the other hand, if you would much rather be wearing a dress or a skirt, then that’s definitely the style you should look for. Another thing to consider is room temperature. Since my office is always cold, light sweaters and cardigans are pieces that I wear the most as extra layers. Now if you happen to land an internship in say Miami, then perhaps forget all the layers, and keep some deodorant handy instead!

Get it tailored

A good fit is something that can make any piece look fancy and pricey. A well-fitted pencil skirt that you snatched for $15 can look better than one you spent $50 on, but is too long or short! Having properly fit clothing is especially important for items like dress pants, skirts, and blazers, where they have to fit you in all the right places, or the outfit will just look sloppy. If you want to look put together, then I advise that you ensure all of your staple clothing pieces are properly tailored to you!

If you’re going to splurge on one thing…

Make it a good blazer! I have one good blazer that I spent a little bit more on, but it has lasted me 5 years and is still in great shape. If you tend to stick to a black colour palette, I would say to either choose a black or a grey blazer. However, if you prefer the blue tones, go with a navy, it’s always a classic. Personally, blazers are one of my favourite things to wear, so I’m guilty of having a few other colours (that I have spent much less money on). A neutral blazer can bring any outfit up a notch, and will instantly have you looking much more professional. Whether you have it over a dress or a white t-shirt, it’s one of the easiest ways to make something simple look more professional.