Budgeting Fashion

How to: Capsule work wardrobe on a budget

Whether you’re stepping into your first corporate role or you’re just looking to update your wardrobe, finding stylish options on a budget can be difficult. Capsule wardrobes are a popular option for those of us who want to be able to mix and match pieces and not have to worry about having a wardrobe full of things that don’t work together. How do you go about building a capsule wardrobe without spending a fortune?

Dress for the environment

Before you even step foot in a shop, think about what your job entails and what might best suit the environment you’ll be working in. Are you going to be sitting down a lot? Are you going into a very strict professional setting or a more modern casual office?

It might be hard to get the vibe of the office initially, so it might be easier to wait until you’ve been there for a week or so before you go out and spend your hard-earned money. Another option is to have a look at the organisations’ social media and see if you can suss out their vibe from images of their staff.

Build up from staples

The best way to get a wardrobe that works for you is by starting with the basic staples and building from there. Steer clear of fast fashion (unless you are working in the fashion industry) as these pieces will date very quickly. I usually recommend the below key pieces as a starting point:

  • A pair of black pants (or black jeans if your office is more casual)
  • A black skirt (the classic pencil skirt works well)
  • A black dress
  • A blazer, jacket or cardigan in a neutral colour
  • A couple of blouses (white is a good base)
  • A pair of black shoes (either flats or heels)

Once you’ve got the basics you can inject some personality into your pieces with colour or patterns. To make sure that my items work with each other, I stick to a maximum of three key colours and pair these with a neutral piece.

Make your money stretch

To get a great look you don’t always have to buy new. In fact, it’s much kinder to the environment if you don’t buy brand new. Some great ways to save money on clothing include:

  • local op shops
  • markets
  • factory outlet stores
  • buying second-hand from eBay or Facebook Marketplace
  • hold a swap event with friends
  • use discount websites and apps like Shopback, and Honey

Quality over quantity

With the amount of cheap fashion available it can be quite tempting to buy all your pieces from these stores, but over time you’ll find yourself replacing them more often and therefore spending more money.

If you’re going to wearing similar pieces like black pants over and over, it’s worth investing in a quality pair. It is much better to have fewer, higher-quality pieces that you can wear for years, rather than lots of cheaper items that you have to replace every few months.

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Example of a wardrobe based on neutrals with pops of colour/pattern

Where to buy?

My top choices for quality but relatively inexpensive clothing stores include:

  • Target
  • Portmans
  • H&M
  • Dottie
  • Forever New
  • Tokito (from Myer)

Cheaper options:

  • Kmart
  • Big W
  • Valleygirl
  • Ally
  • Temt

What are your favourite tips for budget workwear or even your favourite stores?

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Image Credit: Photo by James Hollingworth on Unsplash

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