I started my career in the banking industry many, many years ago. I had an entry-level position and this was in the “good old days” when professional dress was the standard. Building a wardrobe on a shoestring budget was not easy, especially as a single mom who was putting herself through college. Like many others, I was lured by the mighty price tag and could hardly resist a bargain. While this was good in theory, I missed considering a very important line item that comes along with professional dress … the cost to maintain it. I bought clothes on clearance without paying attention to that pesky care label. I quickly found that dry cleaning was somewhat cost prohibitive, but necessary to keep the integrity of my clothes. As you’re thinking of adding some pieces to your wardrobe this spring, consider some of the very important details I’ve outlined for you. Consider the Cost of Maintenance As I mentioned above, dry cleaning can add up over time. Even with use of proper undergarments and rest between wear, you’ll want to have dry-clean-only garments freshened regularly. When looking at price tags, you’ll want to add this ongoing maintenance in. Of course, if a care label simply says dry clean, you may be able to hand wash the garment and save yourself the cost. Trust me when I say that the hand wash cycle on your machine is not the best choice for this trick — you’ll want to go with the sink of water and using your actual hands to pull this off successfully. To keep your garments around for as long as possible, follow the care label. Cutting down on time in the dryer will also add life to your collection. Look for Quality Sale racks excite me and they are usually the first place I start when I shop. I mean who knows what untold treasures are just waiting for me to scoop them up after they were foolishly overlooked by the masses! Purchasing quality garments does not have to break the bank, but even on sale a quality piece may be somewhat higher than its inferior counterpart. While weighing your options, be sure to look at the label. What is the garment made of? If it has a high percentage of natural fibers, it’s going to hold up to wear better than a synthetic garment. Natural fibers are also going to be able to transition through more seasons than a synthetic fiber since it will keep you warm, but also breathe. You also want to look at other details on the garment. What are the buttons made of? Metal or shell buttons signal a higher quality. Is the thread dyed to match the fabric? Are there loose threads hanging anywhere? Paying close attention will help you invest in something that you can wear for years to come — even if you buy it off the bargain rack. Build with Intention I went through a shopping rut recently and I realized that I was looking at garments that do not fit into my current lifestyle. My daily dress has become much more casual over the past year, but my mind was still trained to look for business attire. Of course I wasn’t excited — I saw no regular practical use for the items I was considering. Once I realized this, I made a mental note of what I felt was missing from my collection now and voila — I added some great pieces that will get a lot of use. Shopping for the sake of shopping usually doesn’t work out well. Shop with intention — what are you missing to pull looks together? What pieces do you continue to wear even though they may have passed their expiration date? You will find that your money seems to stretch further and you have many more choices available to you each day when you have a plan. This past winter was long, but spring has arrived. Jazz up your mood and wardrobe by adding some new and unexpected items to your wardrobe. There is nothing like one or two fun new outfits to add some pep to your step.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.