Thrifty tips for building your graduate working (women’s) wardrobe


Congratulations, graduate, you’ve got a job! Gone are the days of having kitchen cupboards filled with bland, soggy noodles and looking like an advert for Sainsbury’s basics. You’re now entering the world of work as a professional and independent woman and you need to dress the part. Go forth and go shopping!

But hold on a minute Missy. Independent women have bills to pay and you’re still on a tight student budget with at least a month to wait until pay day. What is a working girl to do? Well if you’re anything like me then you’ll hunt for bargains, get yourselves in charity shops and hit the sales. Shop smart, follow these thrifty tips and you can still stay stylish at work without having to break the bank.

Invest in the basics

I’ve always been the kind of person who prefers to spend a little more on the items that I’m likely to wear a lot such as trousers and jackets, and less on the things that I wear less of. However, when I graduated last summer I had no choice but to hit the cheaper shops to get the essential trouser suits for job interviews. I can proudly say that despite wearing them at least 3 times a week over the past year these items are still going strong.

Your best bet is to invest in the following items:

  • A pair of trousers
  • Skirt – pick one that fits your shape.
  • Jacket – just buy one and you can rework it in different ways with different top and bottom combos.
  • Low heels, wedges or a comfortable pair of dolly pumps.
  • Cardigan
  • Dresses – good for if you ever wake up late and don’t have time to put together a whole outfit.

work clothes

Use these items to build the foundation of your work wardrobe as they are versatile and can be interchangeable with other items. Stick to neutral colours such as black, brown, beige and white and you’ll be able to match them with any bold coloured top or blouse. Do this well to create lots of different combinations and no one will ever know that you wore the same jacket 3 times last week!

Wear black!

Black is the new cheap. Not only are black clothes great for hiding dirt and creases, but they’re also good at disguising design flaws such as poor finishing and uneven stitching.  Even more, wearing black will make your bold statement accessories stand out! So ditch the overpriced suit combo idea and get yourself the cheaper alternative in black!

Tip: To stop your clothes from fading turn them inside out before washing, wash on a cool temperature and then air dry. Keeping your clothes in good condition will save you heaps on replacing them in the long run.


Now that you have the basic (and arguably boring coloured!) items, it’s time to dress them up a bit! Perk up your staple pieces with fab accessories such as a scarf, handbag or a statement necklace. Why not buy a few bright coloured waist belts from Primark and wear a them with a black dress? Pair any bold accessories with your neutral coloured base items and your outfit will be instantly transformed!

Just don’t go overboard with bright colours and be aware of clashing items or being too colour co-ordinated. You don’t want to end up looking like Reece Witherspoon in Legally Blonde (although she does look fabulous this probably isn’t office appropriate!)


Tip: Have a rummage through your wardrobe to see if there’s anything hiding at the back that you perhaps haven’t worn in a while. You might be surprised to find any ‘were-once-in-fashion-then-went-out-of-fashion-but-are-now-back-in-fashion’ blouses, cute vests or scarves that you can reuse! 

Think thrift!


We all used to dread getting hand-me-down clothes from older siblings as a child,  and you could never be seen carrying your PE kit in an Aldi carrier bag when I was at school let alone be caught in a charity shop with your mum! But now thrift shops have become fashionable and lots of people are shopping for old ‘vintage’ gems.

The great thing about charity shops is that they are full of basic work wear items such as trousers, jackets and blouses. Just don’t get too carried away buying things because they’re cheap though, something may be a bargain but it’s still a waste of money if you’re never going to wear it!

Shop sales

In the recession many shops have clocked on that a lot of people prefer to shop in the sales. Keep an eye out for sale periods and you’ll be able to get about 3 different items for what you would have spent on the original price. Give yourself enough time to rummage through though and again, avoid buying anything that you’ll probably never wear, or that’s inappropriate just because it’s cheap:

Try to avoid:

  • Killer heels – save them for the dance floor!
  • Low necklines – you don’t want to be a distraction in the office!
  • Loud and heavy jewelry that clangs every time you walk.
  • Flip fops!
  • See-through tops- always wear a kami top underneath!

So there you have it! It is possible to look good in your first few months in the office when you’re still on a budget! Follow these five thrifty tips for building your graduate wardrobe and you’ll be dressing for success in the office everyday #toocheesy?

Do you have any tips on snazzing up a work outfit on the cheap? Why not share your secrets by leaving a comment below?!

 Michelle 🙂 


Posted on July 18, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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