Your Work Wardrobe On A Budget

Get more of the basics (trousers, skirts, and jackets) in neutral colours that pair well with other colours.

You might be trying to revamp your style or perhaps you just got a new job and want to build a new wardrobe but have a limited budget? Let’s guide you on how to build a wardrobe with a budget


Firstly, Get more of the basics (trousers, skirts, and jackets) in neutral colours that pair well with other colours.

Neutral colours — black, navy blue, grey, tan (or taupe or camel), cream, white — work better, as they not only mix with each other, they don’t stand out so you can repeatedly wear them and give away that you’re wearing the same thing.

(Navy blue isn’t technically a “neutral” according to colour theory, but it blends so well it’s effectively one when it comes to fashion.) Remember that five well-chosen shirts combined with two pairs of trousers will result in ten combinations, but two outfits that don’t go with anything else will only give you two combinations. Here are some suggestions you can consider:

·         Men: 3-4 jackets, 3-4 pair trousers, 5 shirts, 5 pair dress socks, 3-4 ties, 2 pair of shoes.


·         Women: 2-4 jackets, 3-4 skirts, 5 tops, 2 twin sets (matching tank and sweater), 5 pairs dress socks and/or pantyhose, 2 pair of shoes (low heels, or flats if you can’t wear heels at all).



·         Go for suits. People often assume suits will be more expensive than buying separates, but you often get a jacket and skirt for less money than if you bought them separately. Suits in solid colours or with subtle patterns are best for splitting up and using each half separately.

·         Shoes should be comfy and well-fitting, preferably leather. Even if you buy your shoes in a thrift shop or by the roadside, look for pairs that appear to be hardly worn, as shoes do mould themselves to the wearer’s feet after a while and your foot is different! Don’t try to squeeze into a pair that doesn’t fit. Better sources for shoes would be online stores ( for instance) or outlet malls. If you know you consistently can find shoes in your size that are comfortable, online retailers or auction sites can be a good resource — but make note of their return policies and the hassle involved if you need to do that.

·         Shoes for women: Black should be your first choice. For your second pair, choose a colour that will go with more of your wardrobe. If you have a good deal of blacks, whites, greys, blues, pinks, and reds, navy shoes would be the way to go.  Do not dismiss the wisdom of avoiding very high heels in the office – keep in mind, you will be wearing them for at least seven hours or more, and may have a job which makes you get up from your desk and walking to different locations in the office. Shoes with heels over 2 inches (5.1 cm) high will likely feel very uncomfortable at day’s end.

·         Shoes for men: As for men, black is the colour to go with if you can only start with one pair of shoes. For your second pair, a dark shade of brown or oxblood (a dark burgundy or maroon) is recommended. Navy is usually not an option for men. Dress shoes for men should be simple and neat, with 4 or 5 holes for laces and no design or contrasting trim that stands out. Dress loafers or dress boots can also work if very plain leather. Don’t wear work boots, hiking shoes, or white athletic socks to the office.