8 Budget-Friendly Ways to Improve Your Work Wardrobe

Your work wardrobe can seem kind of drab when you wear a suit day in and day out. Trousers, suit jacket, dress shirt, and tie — you can practically dress yourself in your sleep. When dressing for the everyday becomes utterly mundane, you know it’s time for a wardrobe upgrade. This doesn’t mean you have to shell out hundreds of dollars for an upgrade. There’s no need to go out and buy a new wardrobe or even buy a new suit. There are little, inexpensive upgrades that can take your wardrobe from a lazy five to a bold 10 without putting a dent in your wallet or sanity. Here are eight of the least expensive ways to upgrade your work wardrobe.

1. Waist extension tab

Improving your work wardrobe doesn't have to hurt your wallet

Improving your work wardrobe doesn’t have to hurt your wallet. | iStock.com

A waist extension tab is exactly what it sounds like: Instead of just a normal pair of pants that button in the middle, the waist extension tab simply allows you to forgo a belt because it forces you to button your pants further off to the side. Suit expert Jon Tietz for GQ offers this easy upgrade suggestion. As mentioned, there’s no belt required and it doesn’t cost anything. It’s just a little tailored detail when you’re buying a new suit that ups it’s “looks more expensive” factor. Lucky for you gents, stores like Topman and J.Crew make pants with the waist extension tab for a price that won’t break the bank. You’re well on your way, sir.

2. The pant cuff

cuffed pants

Adding a cuff instantly makes pants more polished. | iStock.com

Tietz also suggests another brilliant suit upgrade that will leave you looking like an expert Italian dresser: the pant cuff. Sound simple? Because it is. By simply adding a tailored cuff to your pants, you’re upping the value and style of your suit tenfold. Take your suit pants to the tailor and have them put a 1.5-inch cuff on them to crank up your suit style. This should cost no more than $15 to $20. Not to mention, this style also exposes your ankles for a little sockless action, which brings us to…

3. Go sockless

Man wearing shoes with no socks

Skip the socks for a more relaxed look. | iStock.com

Yes, sir. You can totally get by without anything between your feet and your shoes. Going sockless with a suede loafer, with the added pant cuff, is guaranteed to make you look like a fashion savant. You probably have a suede loafer in your shoe arsenal, and if you don’t, a nice suede loafer to get you through the season should cost no more than $100. Opting for a suede loafer, as opposed to anything else, is more befitting to this dressy-casual style, because going sockless with a pair of fancy business shoes just feels, well, off. Be sure to opt for an unlined supple suede or leather that is soft and flexible from the start. Trust us, your feet will thank you for this crucial piece of fashion advice.

4. Do your ‘do differently

getting a hair cut

A new hair cut can make you look like a completely different person. | iStock.com

Getting a different haircut can change the entire personality of any and every suit you own. As GQ so beautifully instructs: Go to your barber and simply tell them that you “want to try something different today.” The right haircut can pull together any look. They recommend opting for a side part, which means you need to ask your barber to keep it a little longer, about three and a half inches, on the top with a natural clipper fade on the side. Request extra texturizing to pump up your natural volume.

5. Switch out your solid white dress shirts

Shirts and blazers hanging in a closet

Maybe don’t go with the white button-down everyday. | iStock.com

One of the most boring parts of your suit wardrobe are your plain white dress shirts. It’s about time to spruce things up and make your suit feel totally now — and it’s all about the unexpected details. Get yourself a slick graph check shirt — the one that reminds you of sixth grade geometry class — and gives you more of a zip than any solid or pinstripe. In other words, instant upgrade.

7. Add a pop of color with a tie or pocket square

A man wearing a suit

A pop of color will brighten your mood. | iStock.com

Want to add even more to your upgrade? Incorporate a pop of color for the spring season with either your tie or add a pocket square. If you’re keeping to a graph check shirt — which is more on the neutral color end — it gives you a great excuse to wear a tie that pops. That said, if you’re wearing a pop of color, and choosing to add a pocket square to the mix, make sure you keep it within the same color scheme but wear it a shade darker and/or lighter.

If you’re not already into the pocket square, you’re going to want to get into it now. Adding a pocket square is like giving an old suit a little CPR. Although it’s by no means a sartorial innovation, adding a pocket square will maximize your suit potential. It exudes the right “hey, look at me I know how to dress” attitude and allows you to fearlessly add a pop of color to your suit with little to no effort. Fear color no more.

Both are small, inexpensive upgrades, and you have a wide variety of choices on the cheaper end of the spectrum from The Tie Bar.

8. Tie bar it up!

A man with big goals

A tie bar is a classic accessory. | iStock.com

Speaking of tie bars, and in keeping with the the torso area where you have the most style/upgrade options, why not add personality to even the plainest of suits with a tie bar. In these style-crazed times where everyday gents are wearing different versions of plaid suits, and dropping serious cash on top-of-the-line sweats, you’re no longer surprising anyone with your plain silver tie bar. Switch it up and add a hint of quirk and a dash of intrigue by wearing a tie clip in an interesting shape or symbol. It’s just enough to make you stand out without going overboard.