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How to Find Affordable Professional Clothes

Do you need a professional wardrobe but don’t have the funds to spend hundreds of dollars creating it?

For 8 years, my husband was a grad student and could wear jeans and casual shirts.  Then, he finally received his Ph.D. and began working in a professional environment.  The problem?  We could not afford to buy him a professional wardrobe all at once.  However, with some crafty shopping, he now has an ample wardrobe for less than $100.

Here are some places to look if you want to build a professional wardrobe at a fraction of the cost:

Garage sales—These are hit and miss, but in any given season, you should find some nice clothes.  Just a few weeks ago I happened upon not one but two garage sales that had men’s dress pants and shirts in my husband’s size.  I got 5 dress shirts, 1 casual shirt and 3 pairs of dress pants for a total of $14.  Best of all, most of them still looked new.

eBay or Craigslist—Just today there was a woman’s 100% silk suit on eBay for $10.  That included the jacket, skirt and matching scarf.  Of course, the concern is that the item might not fit.  If it is a name brand outfit, you can try on the same outfit at the store to see if the size fits you, but that is not always realistic.  You could always just turn around and resell it if it doesn’t fit you properly.

Consignment stores—Chains like Plato’s Closet are national, but most mid to large size cities and even smaller ones have their own consignment stores.  Many cater to women, but you can also find some men’s clothing.

Thrift stores—Stores like Goodwill and other thrift stores do have some nice professional clothes; you just have to have patience to go through many clothes to find the keepers.  Once you do find something nice, it should only cost you a few dollars.  You can widen your selection if you can alter a few garments on your own.  The Frugal Girl [3] loves to find nice clothes at a steal and recently altered a skirt with a lace hem that she did not like by tucking it under and sewing a new hem line.

Follow deal bloggers—Many deal bloggers like Money Saving Mom [4] give readers a head up when there are great sales online.  I bought my husband two brand new dress shirts for $12 total thanks to a tip from a deal blogger.

Discount retailers—Stores like Kohl’s and JCPenney already offer reasonable prices, but when you combine their sales deals with promotions like Kohl’s Cash, you can find professional clothing for a reasonable price.

Dressing professionally can break the bank, but it doesn’t have to.  If you plan carefully, using these strategies you can build up a professional wardrobe in just a few months.  My husband now has enough dress clothes to last him at least a couple of years.

What are your favorite ways to save on professional clothes?