Your Office Wardrobe: How Much Can You Afford?

We know that INVESTING in a WORK WARDROBE makes CAREER SENSE, but how much should you spend? …


One of the biggest costs of work, one we probably don’t talk about often enough, is the amount we spend on work clothes. How much do you estimate that you spend a month on your office wardrobe? Did you take clothing costs into consideration when you negotiated your salary? We know investing in a work wardrobe makes career sense. According to a Newsweek survey, 59 per cent of hiring managers in the US advised investing as much time on your appearance as you would crafting your CV. We aren’t oblivious to the importance placed on our appearance; most of us have accepted it, and many of us actively use it to get ahead. In the Harvard Business Review, Sylvia Ann Hewett had this to say about the survey results: “The women surveyed understood that if you don’t look the part of a leader, you’re not likely to be given the role. Looking well-turned-out engenders self confidence, a trait considered the bedrock of authentic leaders.” How much is prudent to spend? A rule of thumb is that you spend up to ten per cent of your average yearly income on clothes. As you progress and earn more, that percentage should reduce to five per cent. As you build a wardrobe of quality coats, dresses and suits, you can invest in a good work bag or briefcase. You’ll be surprised by how, after a couple of years, even with some editing and natural attrition of some garments, your wardrobe will have grown.

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