Two women clothes shoppingWhat should you wear today? Sometimes that question gets more complicated when you are choosing clothes for working in an office setting. If you find it hard to build your wardrobe for work, here are five tips for buying work clothes on a budget. Read more...

5 Tips for Buying Clothes on a Budget

Oct 12, 2023

Two women clothes shoppingWhat should you wear today? Sometimes that question gets more complicated when you are choosing clothes for working in an office setting. Today's blog post provides five tips for buying work clothes on a budget.

Some jobs have a business casual or business professional dress code. This often includes dress pants, skirts, dress shirts and occasionally suits. Office attire is changing, so if you need help figuring out what items meet the dress code, ask your supervisor to give you examples of common outfits. An office wardrobe can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. There are many ways to save money on clothes, and still meet the dress code at work. Here are some ways to spend less money and get the outfits you need to look good and feel confident at work.

1. Shop Your Closet

Work Clothes Donations

Don't forget to seek out local organizations such as churches, community centers, universities and more that donate work clothes, and even interview suits. Search phrases online such as "free work clothes," "free work clothes donations" or "free clothing near me." You can also contact local organizations in your community to see if they can point you in the right direction.

You may already have some items that can start your work wardrobe. If you have a pair of black dress pants and a couple of dress shirts, that's three fewer items to buy! Take inventory of what you already have, and what family members and friends can share. If you already have one business casual skirt, consider buying just one more in another color to build your wardrobe. Items you have that may not stand out as “office clothing” can work too, if paired with the right items. A plain tank top you already own worn under a cardigan can add to your outfits.

2. Purchase Basic Items to Mix and Match

It's always a good idea to buy some basic pieces that you can easily mix and match. A black blazer or suit jacket can match with many items. It can be worn with slacks, a skirt or jeans if your employer allows casual days. A solid color pair of pants in navy blue or gray can also be paired with many shirts, blouses or sweaters. For shoes, look for neutral colors so they can go with most of your outfits.

3. Check out Thrift Stores

Thrift stores have many quality items to add to your work wardrobe. You can find items that are gently used, or even brand new for a low price. Thrift, or consignment stores, have a large selection of clothes in all sizes, colors and styles. Some thrift stores have special days when the already low-priced items are half off, or an additional discount is applied all day. Call ahead or check their websites to get the best deals during the week. If you choose to shop any of the popular online thrift stores, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for consumer safety advice for online shopping.

4. Limit Expensive Name Brands

Buying just a couple of designer items can take up a big part of your budget. Start your wardrobe by buying more classic items and get more for your money. In addition, some designer items can be difficult to mix and match because of the colors and patterns. Non-designer clothes can be more useful and create several outfit choices. Sometimes you can find used designer items at neighborhood garage sales, discount shops or thrift stores, along with other professional clothes.

5. Take Your Time

You can gradually purchase items for your work wardrobe, a couple of pieces at a time. No need to rush and buy all your clothes right away. As you can afford more, you'll eventually build a great selection with many outfits. Slowly buy clothes as time goes on. Buying slowly also allows you to find “off season” sales. For example, if you purchase sweaters in the summer, prices will typically be much lower. Buy your short-sleeved shirts in the winter and save money. Make a habit of heading to the clearance section for these off-season deals. Your budget will thank you.

There are many ways to spend less and have a work-ready wardrobe. Stay on the lookout for deals, and your wardrobe will grow before you know it!

How Can Ticket to Work Help?

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, eligible participants can work with service providers to receive the service and supports they need to find and maintain employment as they move toward financial independence through work.

Connect with a Ticket Program service provider such as an Employment Network (EN) for career counseling that can include advice on your work wardrobe, and connections to local organizations that may help with donations. Find an Employment Network (EN) today!

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. You can also learn more by registering for a free, online Work Incentives Seminar Event webinar. Or text TICKET to 1-571-489-5292 to receive Ticket Program texts. Standard messaging rates may apply, and you can opt out at any time.

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