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dressing to impress

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I finally started at my new job last week. It was a nightmare getting rid of my responsibilities at my old place, and surprisingly tiring having to speak to all new people all the time last week. As with all jobs, this one isn’t exactly what I expected, but I think I’m going to like it.

thinking about clothes

A new job is a good opportunity for me to evaluate my working wardrobe.

On balance, the dress code is about the same as at my last place - business casual - but there are many more women, so I’m feeling more inclined to wear make up and jewellery. I don’t need to buy any of these as I have a good supply, and certainly more eye shadow than I realised.

My current working wardrobe is:

  • 3 pairs of trousers
  • 1 skirt
  • 4 jackets
  • 6 skinny knit sweaters
  • 6 long sleeve tops
  • 8 short sleeve tops
  • 2 skinny knit cardigans

This is not too bad as it stands - it stands me reasonably well in my normal working life - mostly in the office, but with and handful of external meetings. I pretty much wear a standard uniform, my tops are essentially the same designs in different colours and all my trousers (and skirt) are various shades of grey!

cheap or frugal?

One thing that I have noticed more as I’ve been trying to make a good impression on my new colleagues, is that a few of these things are wearing out. At least one pair of trousers is on its last legs (possibly because they are my favourites) and so are a couple of the tops. In fact, my work clothes wear out really quite quickly - certainly within a couple of years. That might be because I buy pretty inexpensive clothes, I don’t think I’ve spent more than £10 on a top, or £20 on a pair of trousers in my current wardrobe.

I’m not sure whether I’m being cheap or frugal. I have to admit that I don’t exactly look after my clothes brilliantly - I certainly don’t live to dress - and I wouldn’t want to buy more expensive clothes if they’re going to wear out just as quickly.

Perhaps I should have more clothes, so that they don’t wear out as often? Maybe I might have read somewhere that your clothes last long (more wearings) if you don’t wear them as frequently. Not sure whether I believe that’s likely to be true. On the other hand, if I had more clothes, I’d get less bored of wearing the same thing over and over!

what about you?

What do you all do about your working wardrobe? Do you invest in key pieces, shop second-hand, or, buy cheap basics? What kind of clothes do you wear, do you have vast quantities of work clothes, or operator more minimally? Let us know in the comments.

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18 comments for “dressing to impress”

  1. I’m a big beliver that if you want a wardrobe to last, you have to buy quality pieces. I do realize fashions can change, but a good pair or trousers or a classic length skirt can pretty much get you from season to season that are timeless classics, they look nice without me looking like someones granny. Yes, you do have to spend some money, but the clothes usually do last longer. Investing in a couple key pieces is key.

    Posted by bouncing back betty | May 12, 2009, 12:34 am
  2. As anally retentive as it seems, I actually made a spreadsheet of my wardrobe: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pvXgoPaoz9ziJ9LX5zz28OA&gid=4

    And that really helped me reassess my wardrobe. By listing everything, stating colours and so on, it helped me see different combinations that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

    I tend to buy middle-range clothes on sale, so for low-range prices. It works out well, because generally speaking, they’ll last me a few years, before they wear out, at which point I’m so heartily sick of them that I never want to see them again!

    Posted by Amanda | May 12, 2009, 2:06 am
  3. Oh man, I’m all about picking up clothes on the cheap. Sometimes from thrift stores, but mostly from TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc. I don’t care about the brand per se, but it does have to look good and make me FEEL good. And every now and then a piece of clothing will do just that, so it’s worth a cple extra dollars at times :)

    Good luck!

    Posted by Budgets are Sexy | May 13, 2009, 5:25 pm
  4. I shop mostly thrift stores for basic, name brand items. They are cheaper than new, low quality items, but last much longer and have proved their durability. This takes longer to develop a wardrobe, as thrift stores have limited stock and you’re not gauranteed a good find each time you go in.

    Posted by Emily | May 15, 2009, 3:32 pm
  5. I believe in spending more on classic quality pieces that will last and stay in style for a long time. I always buy higher end with things like suits, basic black, gray or tan pants, solid color sweaters, dresses. Then I buy cheaper clothes for clothing that is trendy or has a print that is more recognizable. I definitely think you’re farther ahead to invest more in staple clothing items and keep them longer.

    Posted by Kristen | May 19, 2009, 6:28 pm
  6. New job! Nice. I will have to go back and find the posts… As for the wardrobe, I agree. Before I moved overseas, I cleared everything out and kept only what I liked or still looked good. I’ve really pared it down, but I feel much more professional now that the crappy pants that look terrible but are too comfortable are gone. ;)

    Posted by deepali | May 20, 2009, 4:48 am
  7. There is a huge difference between $30 black trousers and $100 black trousers. Trust me. Those $100 ones will last 20 years if you take care of them and still look beautiful (assuming the cut is classic and not a trendy cut).

    Posted by Zella | May 21, 2009, 2:20 am
  8. I don’t give my clothes enough care, unfortunately. I’ll spend a lot more for bottoms than for tops and I try to take decent care of the bottoms…but that doesn’t always work. As for tops, I try to buy lightly-used ones at thrift stores. I often have to do it while visiting my parents’ as their area has a lot more women in my size (or ones who donate to thrift stores).

    If I were in a more high-powered workplace or in a higher position (outside my department), I’d probably invest a little more in my wardrobe. But I think that mine is a bit better than it needs to be for my position and that works for me. :)

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | May 25, 2009, 12:13 am
  9. I mostly like to buy branded stuff for my office wear .. for casual wear I like to buy from budget stores…

    Posted by Rajeev SIngh | May 26, 2009, 1:48 pm
  10. Dressing for work should always be better in terms of quality and looking. So better go for some well known brands in the market.

    Posted by Steve | May 27, 2009, 8:42 am
  11. Wow at the person who put their wardrobe in a spreadsheet. That’s dedication!

    Buying clothes is often hard for work, because you don’t want people thinking you’re always spending money on new outfits everyday.

    Posted by CD Rates Guy | May 27, 2009, 11:59 pm
  12. I read that one should get 30 suits as a may to magnetize money. Hmm..maybe you can do that.

    Posted by Land Refinancing | June 8, 2009, 5:17 pm
  13. I don’t know if I really see the difference between the 100 and 20$ shirts. I have a few 100$ ones but other then who their made by their quality, generally is the same as those of the 20. There are exceptions, lovely exceptions but in general 20$ shirts suffice and do the job quite well. My clothes generally don’t last more then 2 and a half years max.

    Posted by Push Lawn Mower | June 10, 2009, 5:10 pm
  14. For a long time i was a believer in the more expensive clothes last longer. however i dont think this is true.
    I treat all my clothes the same wash them, and hang to dry (except jeans cause that would take to long to dry). Any way i have since found that while some of the less expensive brands do not last nearly as long, you dont need to spend a fortune to have long lasting brands.

    as long as your clothes are not tearing at the seams i think it is fine, because even the priciest clothes are going to start showing wear after a year or two.

    Posted by countingcoins | June 16, 2009, 1:08 pm
  15. I need to acquire a few short sleeve shirts that are work appropriate. Even as a graduate student, I might run into someone important :)

    Posted by SavingDiva | June 16, 2009, 4:38 pm
  16. I’m sure some women are jealous of my style. I’ve noticed them look me over and then cut their eyes away. A lot of people think I’m a model, because I’m tall and slim.

    Posted by Home for Sale | August 16, 2010, 10:58 am

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