Many people work in professional settings, but don't always get paid the professional pay that they deserve. In my profession, as a Day Plan Coordinator, I attend meetings and meet with families and am required to wear business-casual outfits. Yet, the pay I receive does not always allow me to purchase the necessary attire.
However, I have found a few tips that will aid a middle class profession on a low-class income.
Consignment Stores and Department Stores
Some really nice clothing can be found in consignment or 2nd hand stores as well as department stores such as Wal-Mart, Target or K-Mart. Shopping at designer stores means you will pay at designer prices. In 2nd hand and consignment stores check the clothing over carefully for tears, missing buttons, holes, stains or stretching wear. Also pay attention to discount racks and sales items.
These handy devices are great for keeping clothing looking nice. Purchased near the laundry goods aisle in grocery departments, or laundry accessories (hampers and hangers) of household goods, a lint roller is a simple plastic handle with sticky tape, sticky side out. Roll over clothing to remove lint and hair. They seem to be okay for all clothing types, but on silks or nylons try on a test area first in case there is damage. Black clothes also seem to be a magnet for lint and hair and show up very well. If prone to wearing black a lint roller is almost a must.
Travel sized sewing kits can be purchased in department and dollar stores or assembled by using needles and string currently in the consumer's home. Include in the kit a few buttons in basic colors (blue, white, red, black or brown), string in basic colors, needles and safety pins. If a small tear or loose hem occurs at work this small repair kit can really save one's attire. Kept in a purse, wallet or desk drawer it is convenient and very handy.
Stain sticks such as "Tide To Go" are a common product, again located in the laundry goods of grocery departments. They remove stains on the spot, and clothing can be worn when using the product. About the size of a large pen, these stain sticks are convenient to keep in a purse, pocket, desk drawer or even in a pen holder.
Iron and Iron Board
It may seem simple and silly, but ironing clothes gives them a crisp, clean and professional look. Iron the day before and hang up on a hanger to keep it wrinkle-free or iron in the morning and wear immediately. There are even products that can be purchased that are sprayed on the clothing to eliminate wrinkles. Clothes can also be removed of wrinkles by placing in a dryer with a fabric sheet or wet washcloth and placed on a low setting for 10-15 minutes.
For black clothing that may get bleach spots on it, a permanent marker can fill in the spots. However, for large spots, many spots or spots in conspicuous areas the difference in color might be noticeable and often the permanent marker washes out, fades or runs with frequent washings.
Mix-n-Match and Layer
Layering a simple shirt such as a tee-shirt or tank top with a cute jacket can add an air of professionalism without buying extra clothing but using the non-professional clothes in your home. A jacket in a basic color can be used for a variety of tops. Also mix-n-match tops with pants. Having a pair of pants for every single pair of skirts or pants can get costly. Generally, people have more tops in their closets then they do pants. Pants or skirts in browns, whites, and blacks can be mixed with a wide variety of colored tops.
No white after Labor Day? I say, no white at all! White clothes are just an attraction for spills, it is almost a guarantee that you will spill some of your lunch or snack on white clothing. If sitting in a desk chair, often the black of the chair will rub off on the shirt sleeves. Stains on white are harder to get out in the wash then on any other color. Bleaching whites after time will cause a break-down in the material and damage them.
Adding accessories to an outfit can really make a difference. Try bold, bright colors or noticeable pieces. If wearing a simple tan top with black pants add some red beads and red shoes to brighten it up. The colors of your accessories do not necessarily have to math the colors of your outfit. There is a reason why "bling-bling" is all the rage; it looks impressive and expensive but you can purchase pieces in the dollar store. Just don't tell anyone its fake.
With a little care and time, anyone can maintain a professional outfit without a professional budget! All it takes is some care of your clothing and a little creativity.