Professional Wardrobe: To Splurge or Not to Splurge?

You absolutely want to look great at work. A solid professional image can boost your self-confidence, gain the respect of others, and even lead to a promotion. Looking good makes you feel better which makes you “do” better.  Whether you’re on the young side of the average employee in your company, one of the oldest, or right in the middle, here are some ways to look current and get the respect you deserve.

The following information will help you make important spending decisions regarding your career wardrobe

Splurge on the basics

If a suit is a much-used item in your work wardrobe, whether for a man or woman, then a well-tailored suit is an important splurge. It’s especially useful if you’re someone who doesn’t go up and down in size on a regular basis. This one great suit can be put together with a variety of shirts and ties or blouses and knit tops to change up the look week after week.

Don't splurge on the basics

If you’re going for some basic core pieces for work – slacks, trousers, blazers, skirts – and you're looking at neutral colors (brown, black, navy, charcoal), why spend the big bucks? Look at moderate-priced lines and look for very clean details. The simpler the pieces, the easier it is to make them look expensive if the outfit is well put together.

Or if you’ve embarked on a weight-loss program buy less expensive basics until you reach your goal.

Splurge on the accessories

If work outfits are classic, accessories will bring the magic to your wardrobe. Buy lasting pieces of jewelry in colors and metals in which you always look great. To get more use from pricier accessories, consider bringing them over to your weekend upscale-casual wardrobe as well. Quality handbags that are well proportioned to your body can be a great investment as well as great quality leather shoes with clean lines.

Don't splurge on the accessories

Can you tell real pearls from fake ones? Most people can't. You can buy "diamonds or pearls" that have the look you want at a very low cost compared to the real ones. Costume jewelry is a great way to add a lot of variety to simple work outfits. They can make you feel current, modern and in style. If you’re someone who gets bored easily, a lower price point is great for experimenting with different looks.

Splurge on color

Someone who wears color well can really stand out in the workplace. If you’re that someone special who wears plum, aubergine, coral, or turquoise better than anyone, it could be part of your brand. Brighter colors look best in quality fabrics so be prepared to spend money to get the best you can find. Brighter colors in cheap fabrics look cheap.

Don't splurge on color

Keeping to a neutral color palette may seem boring but in most business settings, your clothes shouldn’t be shouting at others. Small splashes of color in items like ties, scarves, the stripe in a shirt, the color of a shell, can be perfectly adequate. Neutral colors can look more expensive in work pieces, saving you money to spend on accessories

Splurge on details

Certain symbols carry a lot of prestige in the work world. A leather briefcase, a gold watch, expensive shoes can send a signal that you are highly successful and competent at what you do. Splurge on the details that send the message of success that you want others to notice.

Don't splurge on details

Expensive watches can’t hide incompetence for long. If you’re using symbols to provide something that isn't already there, you’re wasting your money! Get the experience and education you need to be great at what you do and then reward yourself with those symbols of success. In the meantime, keep your modestly-priced shoes polished. Wear appropriate watches to work that don’t get undue attention for color or style.

It's hard to make these spending decisions alone. Email me at and I'll help you discover the right mix of splurging or conserving as you build your work wardrobe. Or, enroll in Virtual Style School. Learn more ...

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