How to Dress Professionally on a Budget

How to dress professionally on a budget takes planning and preparation.

Buying only what you need, looking for sales, and avoiding impulse purchases are keys to how to dress professionally.

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Your core foundation business suit for women are three pieces: jacket, skirt, and slacks.

Mix and Match to Maximize Value

Create a mix-and-match wardrobe that includes a three piece suit (jacket, skirt, slacks), and a few tops.

Add additional slacks, skirts, or jackets so you are always building on the foundation business suit for women.

Create Your Business Uniform

Business wear is a uniform. It should show you mean business.

Clothing that is too tight, too short, or see-through does not project the image of a woman who is ready for work.

You must look like you are ready to impress the most judgmental customer, client, or executive you are going to meet that day.

Leave sexy at home, unless your profession is pole dancer.

Suit Up to Suit the Work Environment

The details will vary from workplace to workplace. An attorney may need several dark colored, plain suits as her wardrobe core.

The manager of a stable may need khaki slacks and a blazer jacket as her business suit for women.

Your planning should take account of the norms of your work environment.

The foundation of how to dress professionally is season-spanning suit in a flattering neutral color. If possible, we want a three-piece ensemble that includes both skirt and pants.

Three Piece Suit Is Core Basic

Bottoms wear out faster than jackets, which we often take off. So we certainly want the suit jacket to do double duty -- and more.

We'll need three tops that create different themes -- a button-down or dressy shirt, a long-sleeve knit top, and a short-sleeve knit top, for example.

Tops are easy to pick up at sale prices, so keep a list in your purse of colors and styles you most need.

We now have six outfits -- because each top may be worn with the skirt/jacket and the pants/jacket combination.

Each Garment Should Have More than One Use

Now, add another skirt or slacks in a color that complements the suit jacket. You now have six new business suits, by combinating the jacket with each blouse and skirt, and each blouse and pants.

This gives us a business-casual ensemble.

Reversible Asian-Floral Jacket Washed Twill Belted Pants

Another jacket -- perhaps something in a print or brighter color -- expands the wardrobe exponentially. Each time you can add this jacket to a bottom-top pair, you have another new variation of your professional suits.

Keep Accessories Simple and Versatile

Pumps for office wear with low heels are easy on our feet. Substitute a Mary Jane style or wear lace-up shows with slacks.

A handbag with many pockets keeps us organized -- like a pro. Be aware of what size is proportionate for your height. You may also want a handbag that moves easily from week day to weekend.

Because you have planned a mix-and-match wardrobe, a single pair of shoes and bag should carrry you through most every occasion.

How to dress professionally shows you are ready to plan your career wardrobe as thoughtfully as you plan your career.

It is not necessary to have an overflowing closet to dress well. In fact, often such closets are crammed with clothing that is rarely or never worn.

A well planned mix-and-match wardrobe ensures that you can dress in a flash every moment and always know how to dress professionally at a moment's notice.

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