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Building a Business Wardrobe on a Budget

Depending on your program and year, at some point in your university career, you will find yourself in need of professional clothing. Being on a student budget can make this difficult, so here are a few ways to make the shopping experience easier on your wallet.

Keep a neutral colour palette

Stick to grey, white, black, and blue if you can help it. By buying items that will match with everything you can buy fewer items and still have multiple outfits. As cute as those burgundy dress pants might be, they won’t match with your 3 purple blouses. Keep your colour palette simple to get the most out of your wardrobe.

Create a Pinterest board

If you have an idea of what pieces you want to buy before you go shopping, it will stop you from buying unnecessary items. Decide how many pairs of pants you realistically need and the different styles you would like to wear. This way you don’t end up with all the same style pant and end up spending more money later so you can have a variety. This will also help you learn how to put outfits together. Business clothing is often made out of different materials than casual clothing, so figuring out what goes well together and when to tuck in that shirt can make you more stylish! Here’s mine to help you get started! https://pin.it/r47hyla4nu6eq3

Subscribe to emails

As annoying as emails from retail companies can be, they can get you really good deals. Many companies have a deal called ‘power-lunch’ where the entire store goes on sale during a specific time of day. The only way you can find out about these sales are through email promotions. Stores also often send coupons to email subscribers only. However, be careful not to get roped in by looking at the emails when you don’t need more clothing items. A good way to avoid this is making an email account specifically for retail companies. This avoids your important emails from being missed.

A few companies I recommend are RW&Co, Reitman’s, and Banana Republic.

Invest in well-made clothing

If you buy clothing that isn’t well made you will have to throw more money into replacing them within a year. If you spend a bit more from the beginning on clothing that will last you years, your bank account will thank you. Try to avoid shopping at stores like Forever 21 and H&M. You can find good basics like camis to wear under blouses from these stores but it’s likely that your blouse’s seams will come undone after a few washes. In the long run, this will be worth it.

Buy transition pieces 

You don’t want to be stuck at the end of the season with a wardrobe that you can’t wear into the next. Buying a new wardrobe for every season is not necessary. Buy a nice cardigan and blazer to transition your short sleeve blouses into the winter. Have a pair of tights that you can wear with dresses and skirts. These staple items can give your summer wardrobe a winter vibe while keeping you cozy.

Dress your age

When I first started shopping for a business wardrobe I didn’t feel like myself. These items were ones I had seen adults wear my whole life and while I am technically an adult I still feel too young to be wearing red nail polish and a statement necklace with a black turtleneck. I realized it was because I was dressing how my mom dresses (which is fabulous but also age appropriate for someone in their 50’s). So, I found a cute pair of high waisted pants that taper at the bottom, and a sheer blouse I could tuck into them. It was a spin on my everyday wardrobe that made me feel stylish and successful. Buying clothing that you love will stop you from having the urge to buy new clothes because you’ll never have that ‘nothing to wear’ moment in the morning.

Building a business wardrobe as a student can be tough but knowing where to find good deals and how to find items that will last can really change the game!


Emma Rock

UWindsor '20

Emma Rock is in her third year of university with a major in English Literature and a minor in Gender Studies at the University of Windsor. During her spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, taking American Sign Language classes and spending time with her family. Reading is the only thing she has loved her entire life. She can not wait to turn it into a career by pursuing a job in the publishing and editing industry once she graduates. 
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