by Gemma Hadley

Fashionable, classy work wear that doesn’t break the bank – impossible, right? We often read that if you’re putting together a wardrobe for work, you need to ‘splurge’ on a few ‘key’ pieces; those expensive items that offer flexible styling and can take you from day into night. You know the types of ‘investment pieces’: a rich two-piece skirt or trouser suit; an elegant cashmere v-neck jumper; that pair of killer, smart black heels and a timeless coat. Mix and match these and you’ll end up looking like a million bucks. But what if you don’t have the resources to invest in several expensive, one-off pieces? How can you look smart for work without breaking the bank? There is a way – all you have to do is to shop a little bit smarter…

Accessorising is the key


One way to create a sharp look on a small budget is to dress up an outfit with great accessories. A plain white t-shirt with a pair of slim trousers look terrific topped off with a show-stopping accessory like a chunky gold necklace or an animal print belt. But if this isn’t your thing then you might want to consider a classic silver ladies watch or a delicate bracelet which you can purchase at Tesco. These discreet but classy items can make a powerful statement.

Minimal shapes and layering

Quite often, the simplest of outfits can look the most expensive. You can easily create a catwalk-ready – or boardroom-ready – look with simple shapes and a bit of stylish layering. Think of a throwing a long cardigan over a plain t-shirt then wrap a statement belt around both. Wear a vest-top in a bold colour and pair with a great contrasting (dark) suit jacket. Layering is most effective when you throw minimal patterns and shapes together – and a nice vest and jacket doesn’t need to cost the earth!

Pick one bold, statement piece


One of the best ways to look great on a budget – and make an impression on your work peers – is to choose one statement piece and wear it with gusto! Think: a canary yellow overcoat, a bright blue silk top, a patterned jacket or bold necklace. Again a big chunky bangle or ladies watch works well. Quite often, people remember the piece you’re wearing. It can also have the effect of lifting your mood and boosting your confidence, which in turn can leave a lasting impression in important situations where you want to be remembered e.g. interviews.

Avoid being a slave to fashion

One way to waste money is to buy the latest fashion trend/piece – only to find it’s ‘out’ the following season. Don’t be dictated by trends – go for basic, quality items that are suited to your body shape, because these will be timeless and interchangeable.

So, shop smarter to look smarter – and your bank account will thank you for it.

Gemma Hadley is a freelance journalist and a mother of two rambunctious children, when she is not coming up with fun ways to entertain her children, she spends her spare time reading Vogue or rifling though vintage clothing stores.

Images by  Maegan Tintari used under the Creative Commons license.

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