1. Buy what works for you! - Don't waste your money buying two-piece suits if you work in a warehouse! Take your job responsibilities into account when purchasing clothing for your career. If you work outdoors, buy clothing fit for your environment. Don't buy items that you won't feel comfortable in, because you won't wear those items and that's wasted money!
2. Stick to your best colors - Have a professional Color Analysis done to determine what the most flattering colors are for you. By sticking to those colors, you'll be assured that you'll always have mix and match capability and you'll always look great! One of the foundations of Capsule Wardrobing is the selection of 3 basic colors to build a wardrobe on. Make sure they are the right ones for you!
3. Buy the right size for right now - Clothing manufacturers are not known for their adherence to standards. Don't get hung up on what size the clothing is tagged as, get hung up on proper fit! If the article of clothing feels tight, pulls or seems stressed at the seams, it won't last as long, and it will make you look heavier in the process. Buy clothing that fits you well and it will not only make you look better, it will last longer.
4. Purchase for Multi-season use - Try to purchase fabrics that are multi-seasonal. A heavy, textured wool jacket is only good for the coldest of weather, whereas one made of mid-weight or lighter weight wool or wool blend could be worn with a sweater in cold weather and with a shirt or blouse in warmer weather. You'll get more use from multi-season garments than those with a single-season focus.
5. Remember the basics - Suits and separates can form the foundation of a great working wardrobe. Single and double-breasted long-sleeved blazers with matching skirts for women or pants for men or women are essential basics. Save the novelty items for your casual days at home, or for accessory pieces. Don't try to build a wardrobe around the "trend of the moment". When the trend passes, you'll look dated. Purchase basic building pieces to build your wardrobe and you'll be able to mix and match pieces to create lots of different looks with a minimal investment.
6. Accessorize with style - Every wardrobe needs a certain investment in accessories. The considered use of scarves, jewelry and pins, ties and pocket squares, and even hosiery, shoes and hats can transform ordinary clothing into something extraordinary. Determine whether your coloring is cool or warm and let that guide you in choosing accessories, especially metal jewelry. If your coloring is warm, gold will emphasize the glow in your skin. If your coloring is cool, choose more silver, platinum or white gold to emphasize the contrast of your skin. Combining smart accessories with a basic wardrobe ensures you'll always look coordinated and polished, not thrown-together or haphazard.
7. Buy quality over quantity ? When purchasing clothing, consider buying items that are fully lined versus only partially lined or unlined (the clothing will "hang" better and last longer). Purchase items with a good feel and drape to the fabric, and choose clothing distributors that have a reputation for quality. It's not necessary to only buy wool, when a better grade wool or polyester blend will work as well initially. Buying a $400 suit for $175 on sale is a really good deal, considering the fabric and construction of that suit will be better than the $150 suit purchased on sale for $80. The more expensive suit will be worn more often and cost you less per wearing. A less expensive piece won't be worn as often and won't last, thereby costing you more per wearing.
8. Compatible shoes and hosiery - For a work wardrobe, shoes and hosiery are the finishing touch. Purchase quality shoes and take care of them. Shoes that are run down, scuffed and showing wear make you look the same way, no matter how polished and professional the rest of your outfit. Job interviewers have been taught to check out a prospective employee's shoes, and for entrepreneurs, prospective clients do the same thing! If they don't look their best, it will reflect badly on you. When you find shoes that fit well and feel good on your feet, buy several pair in your foundation colors, and two pair of your most often-worn color so that you can give one pair a rest while wearing the other. Avoid fads in shoes and stick with classic designs like pumps and sling backs for women, and wingtips or oxfords for men. Ladies, stick with a heel no higher than 2 ?", and no lower than ?" for ease in walking and a reduced chance of injury.
9. Organize and categorize - Once you've determined your foundation colors for your wardrobe, you can organize and categorize your clothing for easy selection and wearing. Hang jackets by sleeve length, color and garment length, or combined with matching pieces to create ready-made outfits. Keep similar fabric weights close together to avoid putting a heavy wool jacket over a lightweight chiffon or silk skirt. Put mix-and-match items near their foundation counterparts for easier selection. Move items that need cleaning to a specific area for easy pick up and removal.
10. Take notes for future use - Whenever you are shopping, take along color swatches of your basic colors and those determined to be right for you. Make a promise to yourself to stay with your correct colors, and keep notes of what basic foundation items you already own. No one really needs 10 virtually identical black dresses or 10 identical black suits! One of the guidelines of Professional Wardrobing is to make sure that any item you purchase must either be compatible with at least two other items in your closet, or it must be a foundation garment that could be combined with other pieces to create many other outfits. In this way, you'll be sure to maximize your clothing dollars and create a terrific wardrobe.
Make the most of your clothing investment by using the principles outlined above, and you'll always be impeccably dressed!
About the Author: Dianne M. Daniels is an Image & Color Coach, Consultant and Professional Speaker, and the author/publisher of "Polish & Presence: 31 Days to a New Image". She has helped individuals refine and define their personal and professional image, along with corporations and organizations. Learn how to create your Personal Climate for Personal and Professional Success at http://www.imageandcolor.com