I think it’s really interesting to track how trends within fashion and sustainability evolve and intersect over the years. It’s great that it’s now fashionable to upcycle old clothes and pursue vintage streetwear, but when you’re trying to find trendy work clothes on a budget, it can be trickier to know where to look. Here are some recommendations if you’re stuck for ideas.
Save for what you really want. Sustainability costs money. No matter how good your intentions are to avoid fast fashion and find alternative brands. However, these small companies don’t have the same profit margins to work with, and they have considerably more expensive running costs. It means that if you want a real flagship item without the moral burden, the simplest – but long-term – option is to simply save for what you really want. Do your research and due diligence and give your money where it will offer some benefit to society. You can budget to save accordingly, and ensure you avoid waste by only getting what you really want. Win-win, but admittedly, not a quick fix.
Generate ideas on Pinterest first. If you don’t know where to start, that’s completely normal. Our sense of style completely changes when we move from leisure to work, and as we mature into different roles. That’s why a lot of the aspirational shopping that we do with fast fashion can be more efficiently transposed into a theoretical workspace. What I mean is that we can get out of our system and explore by generating ideas on Pinterest. You still get to experiment, but without the costly process of buying short-term clothes that don’t give you the effect that you want. This means that you can refine what you want and prevent waste when shopping for work clothes on a budget.
Hit up the thrift shop. This is a classic option. The charity shop hauls are a fabulous gateway drug into exploration. They are a mode above Pinterest searching, and you always know that if you don’t like what you choose, you can donate it again. This generates a productive and risk-free way of purchasing clothes on a budget in a sustainable way. You also get to explore more by picking clothes that if they were full-price you’d never consider, but, at a third of their price, you can experiment with. They might be hit and miss, but the clothes have a lot more history and personality, which is always key in what can otherwise be a fairly boring work wardrobe. You have to feel like you are comfortable in what you’re working with, and that it represents you entirely.
Get advice from your friends. If you feel like you’ve exhausted your own reservoirs of information and intel, why not get in touch with your friends for more ideas? You can admire their style and pool knowledge. They might know about a particular store online that always has active discount codes. Or, maybe their sister gets all her work stuff from a shop the next town over. There’s no harm in asking.
Try out clothes borrowing apps. There’s an app for anything these days. You can borrow dogs, pick up brown bananas, and yes, borrow each other’s clothes. It is a really sustainable and immediate way of generating new outfits and styles that are outside your comfort zone. Or, because you don’t have to commit to them, you can experiment even more and see what you feel comfortable in. Plus, there’s less pressure because if you don’t own the outfit or have a monetary sunk cost associated with it, you don’t have to expect it to define you perfectly. Let all your work clothes get a new lease of life!
More ways to find trendy work clothes on a budget
Vintage shops may be worthwhile. These are great options for those wanting a slightly more elevated fit than just a charity shop. These tend to be a little more expensive, but still cheap and high quality. In fact, because things were just made better in the old days, this is much more likely to last longer too. It’s a genuine investment. Plus, the nineties style is absolutely making a riotous return in 2022 so we might as well upcycle the actually vintage clothes we have access to and be the talk of the town. Get those big collars and loose trousers out now!
Don’t be afraid of rogue combinations. Gone are the days when only men wore trousers and formal attire meant a three-piece tailored suit. Things are a lot more flexible in terms of fashion nowadays, so we have to exploit that. Wear mismatched suits and jackets. Try out dark trousers with dark shirts. Wear black and navy together if you’re feeling frisky. Unlearn the unwritten rules about fashion and formality and just focus on confidence.
Bid on eBay auctions and sell your old clothes too. eBay has been around for nearly 30 years but it’s just as popular as ever in 2022. In fact, it’s now one of the best resources when it comes to helping to upcycle clothes. It’s more affordable, it generates a new community, and it specifically engages with helping us be more conscious of our impact on the environment. Not every decision you make will be perfectly moral or efficient, so don’t worry about that pressure. But what difference you can make to be more sustainable while on a budget will go a long way. Bid on auctions for trendy work clothes that catch your eye and while you’re at it, list some of your own pieces that are no longer getting worn.
Don’t turn down hand-me-downs. Your first instinct might be to turn your nose up at the idea of wearing someone else’s old clothes, but if you’re going to go to charity or vintage shops, what do you think you’re doing? If your mom, sister, aunt, cousin, or best friend has some decent pieces in your size and they’re happy to pass them on, why not take them? Even if they’re basics, part of finding trendy work clothes is accessorizing your pieces to reflect your personality, so they’ll give you a great base to work from.
Learn how to sew. You might think that there’s no way you can actually make trendy work clothes a home, but you totally can. The whole vintage/handmade thing is actually really fashionable, and being able to tell your colleagues that you actually created the thing you’re wearing from scratch is pretty awesome.
So there you have it, an earnest insight into how everyday decisions that we make can impact our carbon footprint while remaining on a tight budget! Happy spending!
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