Dress for Success on a Budget

The world around us is changing. Maybe we have been a stay-at-home mom and now we're facing the prospect of working out in the work force. We're used to play dates at the park and McDonald's luncheons. Our old t-shirt and comfortable jeans won't cut it anymore. We're already feeling overwhelmed as it is -- I mean, maybe our only professional references have long since died or we can't even remember their names. We've been changing diapers or shuttling kids to soccer practices for the last decade . . . and now we must change our tune. One of the first things we may think of is our budget. How are we supposed to dress for success if we're going back to work because we need more money? Clothes cost money. And nice clothes, even fashionable clothing, costs even more money. We may have to dip into our pockets for the essentials in women's clothing, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Let's go over some basics that we should have in our closets -- these basics should cover the gamut: from casual to work to evening wear.
 
  • A button down white shirt. This can be flattering to your figure if you choose a style that has darts for shaping. It's also versatile -- can be worn under a suit, or with a pair of jeans as an outer layer with a stylish camisole underneath, or even buttoned up with a skirt.
  • A simple skirt. Choose between a pencil skirt or an A-line skirt. If the pencil is too hip-hugging -- an A-line skirt may be perfect for the curvier woman.
  • A suit. This could be essential if you're searching for a job. Look for a three-piece suit: jacket, skirt and pant. This way you'll get the most out of your money. The jacket can be worn with a pair of jeans for a more casual day, or over a dress. The pants can be worn with a variety of different tops. And the skirt can double up as the 'simple skirt' essential listed above. The various combinations of outfits can be accentuated with different styles of shoes.
  • Jeans. Maybe your work, or the interviewing process doesn't allow for jeans, but every woman needs a good pair of jeans. Buy jeans with a dark wash for better matching, and jeans that are long enough if you want the versatility of wearing heels for a dressier look. Choose the boot-cut or slim cut -- whatever suits your figure best. Jeans can be dressed down or up; wear with a silk blouse or even a simple t-shirt.
  • Black dress. This is a must. You can dress this up or down. Choose one with a hemline that's flattering to your body shape. In the summer, wear with a pretty pair of sandals. In the winter, pair with a blazer and boots. And for an elegant evening out, complement it with a pair of fashionable high heels.
  • The layers. This is where you add the colour and the variety. Stock up on t-shirts and camisoles, chunky beads, belts and bags.
  • A wool coat. A classic wool coat can take you through years of changing fashion -- just mix it up with trendy accessories; a large wrap scarf, hat etc.
  • Sunglasses. Everyone needs a pair of these -- to protect our eyes and for fun. There are so many styles out there that can complement every face shape.
 

So now we have an idea what we need to make an easy and ever-changing wardrobe, but still, money is tight. Let's go over a couple of ways we can find these basics at a nominal price.

  • Clothing swap. Make a party out of it. Have your friends bring gently used clothing and let everyone choose among the items. This way you can get rid of the old, and bring in some 'new.'
  • Online retailers. Online shopping or internet stores save us money by not actually running a physical store, so good deals can be found. Do some comparison shopping from the comfort of your own home.
 

Make a plan, purge your wardrobe, have a clothing swap, and then bargain shop for those essentials via the internet or wholesale clothing. Our own personal style may change as we age and it's always rejuvenating to rid ourselves of our clothing clutter and really scrutinize what we need. Let's remember to always be authentic to our own health and beauty and develop our own style which enhances our body type and shape.