How to Build a Great Business Casual Wardrobe on a Limited Budget

Man and woman enjoy an informal conversation at work
Image via iStock.

Whether you are fresh out of college or have just been relying on the same outfits for too long, eventually you need to cultivate a new business casual selection of clothes for work.

But money can be tight, especially if you are fresh out of school.

If you are worried you can’t afford the look you want to have, it might just come down to knowing how to be more selective in your choices.

For one, you can’t assume you know what you will need for your particular company before seeing what the culture is there. So it’s usually smart to use your first week at the new job to go with simple options that wouldn’t look too out of place regardless of the environment.

You should use this time to take note of what others are wearing so you can create a list of items to pick up for yourself.

You should also check out what you already have in your closet that you can reuse. You should not look to replace everything you have, just buy what you need.

And when looking at what to buy, think of items that can complement each other so you can mix and match. Being able to pair most of your wardrobe items with other pieces helps it feel like you have a lot of outfits even if you really are only swapping around seven shirts and pants throughout the week.

You also don’t want to become so fixated on low prices that you accept low quality. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it’s good. You obviously don’t want to blow your budget at high-end department stores but think something more mid-tier like an Old Navy.

Though thrift stores can also have decent items that are overlooked simply because they are used. There’s often not much difference between a pre-owned blazer and a new one.

And on that last note, check in with your friends as well. Especially if you’re fresh out of college, it’s likely you and your friends have purchased clothing that didn’t actually wind up being what you wanted.

So see if your friend group is open to doing a clothing swap so you can each get rid of what you don’t need and find something better.

All of these are great tips regardless of how you are doing financially. There are plenty of ways to find great clothes beyond paying hundreds of dollars.

Want more ideas on how to dress business casual on a budget? Check out this Complete Guide to Dressing Business Casual on a Budget.


Not everyone agrees on what kind of clothes qualify as business casual. Fast Company hits the streets to find out, what is business casual, and where to draw the line.


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