Building a professional men’s wardrobe on a budget

I was talking with my friend Ivan who was bragging about how his people invented the silk neck tie. Apparently the trend began with 17th century Croatian mercenaries and assassins who aided the French during the 30 years’ war. Afterwards the silk tie caught on as a fashion trend in Europe.

Today a suit and tie is a statement that you are serious about whatever your business may be.

Ivan was telling me all of this because we were discussing social views on clothing and the benefits of dressing more professionally. He said that his father was an immigrant from Croatia and that wearing a suit and tie was really important to the people of that generation – so important that they would sacrifice, pinch and save just to afford those sweet duds when entering America.

As a young father emerging from the depths of poverty I could really relate to the story Ivan told. I felt the pressure to dress more professionally as I represented my company so I built my wardrobe on a limited budget.

Maybe you just got the job you’ve applied for and realized you don’t have the clothes to pull it off. Well, I’ve discovered that it’s possible for anyone to build a professional wardrobe if you have the right plan and a bit of patience.

It’s possible to put together an entire outfit for less than you’d think!

Suit – $170
Shoes – $60
Shirt – $20
Belt – $40
Tie – $20
Socks – $8

Right away I found the most important thing is to search the clearance racks at any and every store. You can find discounts as high as seventy per cent in some areas. These clothing items are usually one or two season’s old but unless you need to be on the cutting edge of modern fashion who cares – you can find brand new high quality wool dress pants for as low as forty dollars although you’ll have to pay extra to get them hemmed.

As for sizing it’s really important that you buy clothing that fits comfortably on you. If you purchase clothing that fits too tight eventually you will hate getting ready for work. Maybe you are planning on losing weight but since these are discount items anyway you will be able to afford a smaller size when you get there. Feeling good about yourself is half the battle.

Places like Winner’s and Marshall’s have slight defects in some of their clothes and they don’t have the best selection for dress clothes anyway, although they do have the best prices for dress shoes. If you are on a budget I would never pay more than sixty dollars for brand name dress shoes such as Stacey Adams, Calvin Klein or Rockport. Keep them clean. You should have at least one brown and one black pair.

Make sure your belt and shoes match and are always clean. It’s important for shoes to look new even if they are not.

Good suits can be purchased for as low as $170 which is mostly the cost of the sport jacket. Vests are super expensive and should be avoided unless you can find them for under fifty bucks.

Wait for deals on dress shirts from brands such as Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss and Perry Ellis that are normally eighty dollars to get discounted down to the twenty dollar range, this happens regularly online from larger stores such as the Bay. You can’t go wrong with a plain white dress shirt. If you are poor and your eighty dollar shirt gets ruined it’s hard to deal with that but if it only cost you twenty bucks you can just move on – believe me.

Learning to make knots is essential and can easily be learned on YouTube if you don’t know how to tie them.

Silk ties are sometimes on sale for buy one get one free. The clearance racks at department stores sell ties for as low as twenty dollars each and if you take care of them they last forever. I would recommend your first purchases to involve a solid bright colour, a solid dark colour such as navy blue and a pattern such as plaid or floral. Make a few purchases at a time that coordinate to a predetermined colour palette you’ve chosen – you can start at sixty bucks per week.

Having clothes that complement each other with balanced selections of neutral tones and vibrant colours will eventually become a complete business wardrobe you can really be proud of!

The true hidden cost of professional attire is dry cleaning. Make sure you read the wash instructions on each item because unless it is made of polyester you probably cannot machine wash these types of clothes.

As for dry cleaning it can cost around five dollars per shirt and ten for pants. Shirts should be dry cleaned regularly if they smell musky but suits and vests should only be dry cleaned once per year unless something bad has happened to them, like spilling burrito hot sauce or something. Dry cleaning wears out the fibres and you can only do it a limited number of times.

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