Being on a budget and staying within the limits of it is not only a necessity but an important rule to live by. Plus, with a plethora of high and low priced options that are strikingly similar, there is no need to splurge and spend money you don’t have. In fact, it can be a fun challenge to seek out clothing options and build a wardrobe that’s within your budget — like our $500 work wardrobe budget challenge. It’s like solving the New York Times Sunday crossword: Yes, it’s difficult but if you can manage to do it, you’ll feel incredibly accomplished. Before we get to our specific piece suggestions, here are some helpful steps to assess what you’re going to need to build a killer new work wardrobe for under $500 — because, after all, it’s what you wear the majority of the time.
Do your research
Before cleaning out your closet, it’s imperative that you do some research on current menswear trends; if you’re not familiar with the basics or the classics, then it’s time to read up on them. You’re going to want to look for style suggestions from not only some of your favorite male fashion mags, but also male fashion blogs like FashionBeans, HeSpokeStyle, and MrPorter that impart great suggestions on what style to choose and how to maximize it.
Doing research beforehand allows you to see outfit pairings and know what types of colors, textures, cuts, and classic pieces you like and how they should be expertly worn. It’s always good to learn a trick or two with your work attire to know what you can save your money on and what pieces to invest in depending upon their versatility. Use this information as your overall guide and keep it in the back of your head as you go through your closet and shop.
Be honest about what you have and what you’re going to wear
Now it’s time to assess your closet situation. Go through every single one of the pieces in your closet. If you’re hanging on to ripped up or stained clothes for some ungodly reason, be it work attire or other, don’t wear it anymore or save those shirts for doing work around the house or in the backyard. If the majority of your closet is full of t-shirts, you’re essentially starting with a blank slate. Now, you can begin to add things so you can dress like a gentleman for work. As a good rule of thumb, if you haven’t worn it in the past year, no matter the item, toss it (by donating it).
Stick to the classics, and if something is too trendy, get rid of it
The classics are the classics because they work and are the great building blocks to an outfit or will always complement or refine an outfit. In order to build a new wardrobe, not only are you going to get rid of your trend pieces that no longer work, but you’ll need to maintain the understanding that you should build a new work wardrobe around simple classics. You probably have clothing that’s been lying around for years, including some trendy pieces that you’ve been hesitant to get rid of it, but please donate them.
Think of it this way: Your work wardrobe should consist of pieces that you can still wear in 10 years and not look dated, such as basic, slim fitting dress shirts, in neutral colors, and a slim charcoal gray or navy two-button single breasted suit. In sum, when you’re shopping for new work wardrobe items, you’re looking for ones that won’t ever go out of style. A great wardrobe needs to built from the ground up, sans trendy pieces that you’ll most likely never wear anyway.
Let’s get to it. Now that you’ve cleared out your closet for some new items, here are some suggestions on how to rebuild your work wardrobe for under $500.
Your new work wardrobe
Created as an example for a week’s worth of travel options, the blog StyleGirlfriend suggests a simple list of just nine items (including shoes) that can build an entire week’s worth of work outfits: three dress shirts, a blazer, a v-neck sweater, loafers, two trousers, and a pair of cuff links (to spice things up). That said, a great professional wardrobe for men is easy to build. With a just a couple of suits, shirts, and ties you can have close to 20 different outfit combinations, says Lifehacker. Think about it like this: 2 suits, 3 shirts, and 3 ties means 2 x 3 x 3 = 18 different combinations. Sounds easy enough. Use this infographic checklist form here from LifeStyle By PS blog for when you’re ready to build up your work wardrobe further. Here are our wardrobe picks to build a new one for under $500.
- Van Heusen Fitted Poplin Solid Dress Shirt in White, $30
- Van Heusen Fitted Poplin Solid Dress Shirt in Grey, $30
- Shirt in Premium Cotton in Light Blue, $30