Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Business Dressing on a Budget

By Katherine Lazaruk on Feb 07 2010 • Filed under Image Intensive

We all know what it’s like to be a on a budget, especially in light of the economic downturn. Our economy might be in recovery, but there are a few important lessons we can take away from this difficult time. Buy quality, buy fewer items, dry-clean less often and scrimp on fashion or trendy items.

Educate yourself on quality by spending time looking in expensive shops and examining the merchandise. Look for strong, even stitching, quality fabric, no threads hanging, buttons firmly attached and zippers that zip smoothly without sticking, as a high price tag doesn’t necessarily mean quality. Once you have educated yourself, you will be able to find amazing deals in store sales, thrift stores and consignment shops. Buy the highest quality garments you can afford. They will last longer, hang better on your body and give you a more polished look.

Shop only for what you need. See “Wardrobe Planning in Five Easy Steps” to review how to prepare for a shopping trip. For higher end items, visit the local consignment and thrift store shops. Invest in pieces you will wear for a longer time, such as suits, suit jackets, skirts, pants and shoes. Once you know what you need and understand quality, you can find items in lower end stores and combine them with your quality pieces to save money.

Decide which stores you will visit and map them out in a roughly circular pattern from your home. Some stores are better than others at merchandising and visual display; you’ll spend less time in well-organized stores. Most consignment stores require that the items they consign have been purchased within the last year so you can count on your item being current. Unless you are a die-hard shopper, visit no more than three stores in one day, especially if they are in different locations and you need to travel some distance between them.

Determine your budget before you shop. Aside from the cost of the garment itself, you’ll need to factor in cleaning costs and alterations. If you purchase a garment that needs to be dry-cleaned after each wearing, you’re not going to get the same mileage out of it as if it could be hand washed or simply aired between wearing. You’ll need to take your purchases to the cleaners or wash them prior to wearing so also include this cost in your budget. Alterations to the hem length, side seams and arm length are fairly simple and cost effective if the garment is of good quality and worth purchasing. If something needs to be taken up at the shoulder or taken in all over, it is best left on the shelf.

Dress appropriately for shopping in comfortable clothing and accessories that can be easily removed. Bring snacks and water, or plan to stop every two hours for a break. Bring your own bags. When you enter a store, keep your list of items firmly in hand. Go directly to the area of the store where those items are displayed, search only for the particular item and move on. When trying items on, be sure to check the tags to find out what material the garment is made of and to look for washing instructions. Natural, breathable fabrics in a quality weave tend to wear better than synthetics. Don’t forget to look for the quality indicators that were mentioned earlier in the article.

Finally, hang your garments up after each wearing and air them overnight before storing them back in the closet. If you perspire heavily, invest in some underarm shields for your shirts and suits to protect them. Hand wash your garments wherever possible to save on dry-cleaning costs, or use a dryer sheet product such as Dryel to launder your dry-clean only garments between trips to the cleaners. If you have followed the first tip and bought high quality garments, you should not have to clean them as frequently, as a good airing will be sufficient to get them ready for another day. Remember these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to budget dressing like a pro: buy quality, buy fewer items and save your money!


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