Minimalism and the Workplace Wardrobe

I work in an office environment. Part of working in this particular office environment involves certain dress standards and requirements – both written and unwritten. For instance, there are times when I am required to wear a jacket. As in, a suit blazer style jacket. This is a requirement that is stipulated for certain activities so I have invested in three jackets (it’s important to have an extra or two in case of spillages!). However, I find that there are also unwritten standards and expectations of looking a certain way. This is completely fair enough as this is a professional environment and it is important that I, in turn reflect that also.

But where does this leave me when putting a wardrobe together? How many different outfits do I have and how much do I spend? Once upon a time at a previous job (expectations were slightly lower) my work clothes became so ratty and worn that it got to the stage where I ran out of outfits and didn’t have enough to get me through a single working week. Ever since then, I’ve made an effort to purchase bits and pieces here and there to sustain my work wardrobe rather than let it dwindle. The part that scares me about this is that I often feel like I’m buying pieces that I don’t necessarily need and that makes me feel guilty. On the other hand, I don’t want to be that person in the office that wears the exact same outfit everyday or wears tatty items. But at the same time I don’t want to have an overwhelming wardrobe where it takes forever to piece together an outfit in the morning or one that cost an absolute fortune to maintain. The key being that I want my outfits to look expensive, without actually being so.

A way to counter a potentially overflowing and expensive wardrobe is not only buying singular items more frequently than I have done in the past, but by buying them when they are on sale – just buy in the sales and don’t wait until you have nothing left to wear. Further, I have a couple of dresses but also a number of skirts and tops. I keep an array of plain and colourful skirts that I then match with simple black, white or navy blue tops. All of these look good with a black blazer. In a sense, I have created a mini work capsule wardrobe of quality items that I have purchased at a significant discount (and I mean significant). I recently purchased a skirt for $48AUD down from $130AUD (including free shipping – huzzah) and yes it goes with all my current tops and jackets perfectly! I always feel that at work it’s important to look like a million dollars without having melted the credit card.

I would never buy a top for work that would only ever match one skirt either, that’s counter productive, expensive and time consuming to piece things together in the mornings- which are usually a rush because I want every minute of sleep I can possibly get. I need pretty much everything to go with everything. But from a minimalist point of view, could I have a few less skirts? Sure. Do I have an excessive amount? No. But I have enough to last me more than a week and the amount I do have makes me feel comfortable. My work capsule wardrobe is probably an area where I’m willing to have a few extra pieces and spend a little more, after all these are the items that I spend most of my time wearing. There are five days to my work week and only two days (sadly) to the weekend.

Unfortunately in a work place there will always be those people that appear to never wear the same outfit twice and look as though they shop at Prada or Versace. But appearances can be deceiving so don’t lighten your wallet based on your perception of theirs!

How do you manage expectations of a workplace from a minimalist and financial perspective?