(Closed) How much to spend on a new career wardrobe?

posted 6 years ago in Career
Post # 3
866 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Your best bet is to go with a few well-chosen, well-fitted basic pieces, and use less expensive accessories to change it up. You’ll want 2 each of the following: black dress pants, grey dress pants, light sweater (cashmere or blend), white button-down, colored button-down. You’ll also likely want a blazer (black) and one in a color, and if you’re into it, at least one pencil skirt and one wrap dress. Black shoes and belts, a colorful scarf or two, dress watch, and conservative earrings will round out the wardrobe.

Eventually you’ll find yourself in a pattern, where you’ll figure out what you’re wearing for the week based on weather, schedule, and what’s clean.

For example…

Monday: Grey pants, white button-down, yellow sweater. 

Tuesday: Black pants, white BD, colored blazer.

Wednesday: Pencil skirt, colored shirt, black blazer.

Thursday: Grey pants, colored shirt, coordinating scarf.

Friday: Wrap dress, colorful scarf.

Obviously, accessorize with your own stuff to your heart’s content, keeping it conservative, non-flashy, and nothing that makes noise when you move. You’ll get a whole lot of wear out of these pieces, and if you choose colors that flatter you and coordinate with each other, you’ll have a mix-and-match wardrobe that’s work-appropriate and not outrageously expensive.

I’m not sure what a fair $$ ammount would be for you specifically, but if I were to buy this entire list (minus accessories) it would be around $350-$500. If you think you’ll only be in banking temporarily and don’t want to invest (hah) a lot in a wardrobe like this, choose less-expensive basics but make sure they fit perfectly — a tailored look always appears more professional.

Good luck, hope this helps a tiny bit! 😀

Post # 4
13010 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

The amount of money you spend depends on where you shop.  I buy my work clothes at Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic, or Ann Taylor…so a good suit costs me $300-400.  I think you should have a least one nice suit, 6-8 pairs of dress pants, a few skirts, several blouses/sweaters, and a couple dresses.  After this, you can mix-and-match everything!

Good luck, and congrats on the new job!

Post # 6
11234 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

My current job requires me to wear whatever I want, but I’m trying to prep for a job that doesn’t–I had to buy nice clothes when I was in business school anyway. Depends on how much money you have, really.

I will totally admit that most of my clothes, the suits especially, are from the juniors department at Kohl’s. Nevermind that I can’t fit into most of their women’s clothing…I typically watch for sales and scour the clearance racks, as well. Target has some really nice suit pieces and sweaters/tops that are work appropriate. Express, oddly, has some nice pieces, too, AND really good coupons (usually a dollar amount off a certain amount spent, and I like to pair that with their buy one, get one 50% off sales). I LOVE Loft, but they never have sales that I’ve seen; however, I do visit the outlet mall every now and then and get stuff from the Loft outlet, as well as the Banana Republic outlet. 

Post # 7
575 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

If you are working at a bank, I don’t think a sweater set/scarf is considered business professional, but maybe you should ask HR what is appropriate? I worked at an insurance company and it was suits only for men and women.

I’d get some three piece suits – blazer/skirt/pant sets, black, grey, navy, and you should be able to find a matching blazer right now for your red skirt. Then you can get other dress pants and mix and match, like khaki pants with the navy blazer, etc. Also, a black dress is Once you start wearing the jackets daily, they will get worn in the elbows if you don’t have enough to go around. Then you’ll need button downs/shells in a variety of colors (white and blue are most professional).

I’d scout out prices on Ann Taylor/Limited/Banana/Macy’s to see what you like so you can determine the costs. On the Limited, there is a tool to help you locate the best fit based on your measurements, too.

If you aren’t able to shop for deals because of time contraints, you’ll end up paying full price. If you live abroad and shop online a lot (like me!), you’ll know to google coupon codes before you buy!!

Best luck and kinda jealous!! I’m having a baby in October and when I return to work, I plan on doing this exact same thing. My stuff is just too old!

Post # 8
5921 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2010

@crystlrox:  Agreed! Also, try checking at an outlet mall.  If you can’t (being overseas) see if a friend or relative can go for you.  We have a great one and I find the best deals at Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and LOFT.  I have gotten nice tweed dresses for $15 from Banana, and pants/blazers for $20 or less there.

Post # 10
2335 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

LOFT and The Limited are my favorites for work clothes, and they both have good sales pretty often.

Post # 11
575 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

@texasbee:  Haha, yes! We always take empty suitcases to shop when going back to the states!! Btw, I’m from Texas, too!!

If you don’t have to wear suits, then @BostonBaby:  has some great advice on separates!!

Post # 12
2095 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Honestly every time I start a new job and need new clothes, I go to the 2nd hand stores. I can usually spend 100 and walk out with a cart full. Is that an option for you?

Post # 13
485 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

My favorite stores for professional attire are LOFT, The Limited, and New York & Company. I feel like you can find really good deals at these places (especial NY & Co). Be sure to buy pieces that will coordinate so you can mix & match. Base all of your options off of one “base” colors such as black or brown. If you watch sales and look at clearance items, I think you could probably get several key pieces for $300 or less. 

First, focus on getting a few pairs of nice slacks and skirts (grey, black, etc). Get a couple flattering button-downs, a couple colored cardigans, and then maybe a nice printed blouse or two. Depending on where you are at with your total, you can probably throw in a dress also. And like PP mentioned, you can definitely accessorize as much as you like! Have fun! 

Post # 14
1249 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 1992

If you’ve seen that they don’t wear suits everyday, then I would get the following:

– a black 3 piece set (pant, jacket, skirt)

– 1 grey skirt

– 1 sheath black dress

– 4-5 button up tops

– 2 pairs black closed toe 2-3″ heels, 1 pointy toed, 1 round toed

This way you have an outfit for every day, and you have at least two combinations for when you DO need to wear a suit.  I would also try to make sure at least one skirt was a tulip skirt, so you don’t have JUST pencil skirts.  Tulip skirts are quite flattering and feminine!

Also, if you are busty, look for button up tops that have gathers at the bust.  The extra fullness will help eliminate any gaps between the buttons.

I would expect to spend at least $600, but that’s because I’m plus size, so business clothes are ALWAYS expensive for me.  If you are misses size, you should be able to get inexpensive clothing.

Post # 15
772 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

Why can’t you buy clothes in Germany?  I had good luck at many of the stores there. 

Post # 16
2889 posts
Sugar bee

@justelope:  Ditto, as much as I love shopping when I visit the US, Germany does have some good options for business clothes. Theat also means you don’t have to get everything at once and can buy more options once you start the job. Also, there is an outlet near Frankfurt, Wertheim Village which is decent. Like all outlets, I guess it depends on which stores are having a good sale and what you are looking for. 

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