A good friend of mine is making a career transition. He’s had the opportunity to wear required uniform to work for the past 15 years. Now, he will be transitioning to wearing suits to work. We have had discussions regarding his strategies for this transition that are bigger pieces – resume building, professional networking, job locations, job opportunities, etc. What has just now entered the discussion is wardrobe. As wearing suits has not been part of his work or purchasing protocols, we have been discussing what needs to be done so that he is prepared for his interviews with the appropriate attire. Buying a professional wardrobe for a new job can be costly, whether you are a new graduate, or transitioning to a new career path. Suiting up for a new job can be costly. Here are some simple tips for suiting up for a new job with variety & style without breaking the bank.
Start by picking out shirt & tie combination boxes at the department store. Most department stores carry shirt & tie combination packs from their own lines of clothing, as well as from recognized clothing label manufacturers. Now, truth be told, you won’t get the highest fashion ties, or high-end shirt quality. Think volume. What you will get is tie variety, and shirt durability at a lower cost. When you are just out of school, or trying to build a business wardrobe for a new career, it’s important to have variety. The boxed shirt & tie combinations come at a value that is cost effective. If you watch store advertisements, you can catch them on sale. I’ll buy one or two at a time, depending on the sale. This is an affordable way to avoid repeating what you wore to work last Monday.
Watch for store discounts & sales. It’s not necessary to buy at retail cost. As I was cashing out at a department store recently, the cashier made a factual economic statement:
“If you are buying at retail prices, there’s something wrong.”
She’s right. Department stores have enough sales and discounts to provide that you can purchase almost anything, including a business wardrobe at a discounted price. Obviously, I am able to speak to the male gender specifically, but roaming the stores while shopping provides me the opportunity to see the same applies for women’s professional clothing, as well. Watch the advertisements. Occasionally, department stores will provide a coupon in their advertisement to receive a monetary discount above a certain spending amount. For example, for the box shirts & ties, I saved an additional $10 above the sale price, since my checkout total was above $25. Essentially, this turned into a 25% savings on top of the advertised sale price. Also, this is one of those situations that having a department store credit card can be used as an advantage. Most department stores will send additional savings opportunities to customers who have store credit cards. These additional discounts can be used in combination with the sales. We’ve addressed this in a previous article, but it bears repeating that when you can compound your savings, it provides you with a savings opportunity, & purchase cost efficiencies (wow – that almost sounds like professional terminology!). As I am always looking to expand & refresh my business wardrobe, I look to combine the highest percentage of savings with the best sales, as well as hunt the clearance racks.
Pay attention to suit specialty store sales. Suit stores run sales commercials offering deep discounts on their products, so there is no need to pay full retail price. Some of the major suit retailers run commercials offering “Buy One, Get One Free” suite sales, or heavy discount percentages. The suits are of good quality, and the service is tailored (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!) to your purchasing needs. Walking into a suit store is a different experience than buying off the rack, with sales staff there to suggest different suit, shirt, & tie combinations. Of course, these efforts are tied to increasing the sale, but you always reserve the right to say “no!” During the long economic downturn, these offers by suit specialty stores have appeared to be more frequent.
Purchasing a business wardrobe can be a daunting economic task. In addition to the expense, you need to consider complying with organizational requirements and suiting to your own personal style. Have no illusions, retailers are not out to save you money – they are out to make a profit. Department stores and suit specialty stores know full well what their final expectations are on a sale, and hope to give you the appearance of savings. However, there is every reason for you to take full advantage of every discount offered. By watching department store advertisements, combining discounts, and creative purchasing, you can build your business wardrobe variety & suit up for a new job in style.