Building a Stylish and Professional Wardrobe on a Budget | Mechellet Armelin

Mechellet Armelin
4 min readJun 17, 2021

There’s a saying that one should always dress for the job they want. That is to say; one should always strive to dress professionally and a step or two up whenever possible. Having a professional wardrobe is a requirement in the business world.

The perfect wardrobe is good-looking, appropriate for work, comfortable, and affordable. For many, it doesn’t seem possible to get all four of those goals in one, but with a little bit of research, anything is possible.

Plan Ahead

So you’ve finally landed the job of your dreams — that or you’re aiming to. Before running out and buying a whole new wardrobe, it’s essential to stop and plan . Ask yourself all of the important questions before beginning.

What is the work environment like? What would be both professional and comfortable in this environment? Is there a dress code? What is the weather typically like? What is your budget? By answering these questions first, you will already be on the way to creating a stylish, professional, and affordable wardrobe.

Go Through Your Current Wardrobe

There is still one more step before one can run out and begin shopping. It’s time to look through your current wardrobe . Are there any items worth carrying over? You likely won’t know until you properly dig through everything available.

When sorting, keep an eye out for nice-fitting trousers, nice shirts, blouses, blazers, skirts, anything that reads as business or business casual. It’s even better if these items are both professional and comfortable.

When deciding what to keep or toss, make sure to throw away or donate any clothes that don’t properly fit, clothing that is either too loose or too tight is both unfashionable and unprofessional and shouldn’t be part of your wardrobe.

Assemble the Basics

When shopping for a new wardrobe, it’s best to find a few key pieces that can work in nearly any outfit combination. These items can be simple yet will look stylish when paired with any accessories.

Black trousers and pencil skirts are solid examples of what one would be looking for here, as well as blazers and the like. If possible, go for quality with these items in particular, as they will last longer.

Other basics include neutral and dark shoes (to match any occasion), white blouses or shirts, and any camis or layer options that feel appropriate given the world environment and current wardrobe/weather conditions.

You don’t need to go out and buy a ton of these items right off the bat. It’s okay to slowly build up over time. That’s part of the reason why you’ll want to buy longer-lasting materials, so there won’t become a need to rush out and find replacements.

Budget Shopping

When people think of budget shopping, they’re probably thinking of going through clearance items. While this is certainly one avenue, it is far from the only option available. Remember, it’s important to try and buy items that will last, so avoid cheaply made items whenever possible.

When on the hunt for a budget-friendly wardrobe, stores like Nordstrom Rack, Zara and H&M have a great selection of quality fashionable clothes at reasonable prices. Furthermore, one can sometimes find a garment of brand and quality, so be prepared to spend a little more time looking for that hidden treasure.

Shoppers can take this a step further by checking out consignment stores and thrift shops. Sure, the odds are good that you’ll have to go digging through a lot of clothes to find what you want, but it’s also just as likely that you’ll find an item of high quality.

Lastly, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for online sales. This is one of the best ways to build up a wardrobe over a short period of time. There are sales all over online, and there are many clever ways to combine discounts when shopping this way.

Don’t Forget the Accessories

Last but not least, don’t forget the accessories! A simple yet elegant necklace can quickly turn a professional but bland outfit into something perfectly stylish. However, it’s important not to overdo it in the jewelry department.

Other accessories include watches (which give the appearance of being both serious and professional), belts (complete the look of an outfit), scarves (a nice pop of color or texture), and purses (form and function all in one).

Carrying Onward

Building a stylish, professional wardrobe on a budget doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. So you might end up going through the above processes several times before it is all said and done.

While working on your wardrobe, keep asking yourself the above questions. Additionally, make sure to learn as you go, as there will almost certainly be tricks that do and do not work for you.

One final tip: don’t forget that tailoring is an option. If you find the perfect article of clothing, but it doesn’t fit, there is nothing wrong with taking it to the tailor to have it fitted. While this will cost more, the end result will be an item tailor-fit to you, and it will show.

Originally published at on June 17, 2021.



Mechellet Armelin

Mechellet Armelin is an Image Coach and Lifestyle Manager in Los Angeles, CA operating Image Consultant Excellence (ICE), her business.