How to dress for a new job with virtually no money

So, I think we are all aware of the capsule wardrobe concept: few items that withstand the test of time and trends, and that you can combine together endlessly and always be on point.

Lovely in theory, but actually, I much rather prefer to have loads of clothes. But it is just my preference.

As you might have read before, I have changed jobs recently. So I spent the last ten years changing into an uniform and suddenly I landed the coolest office-based job. And whilst I was incredibly happy about the change, I quickly realised that I had a very inadequate wardrobe.

This, together with the fact that I has been without a salary for 3 months led to being forced to get a capsule wardrobe.

So if you are changing jobs, starting somewhere more formal- or simply you feel more grown up and think you need to dress more age-appropriately, please read on!

1- Have a look through your wardrobe and carefully select what items do you think suit you new job/lifestyle: this will help in stopping you from going panic shopping.

When I went through my wardrobe, I had a few tops and shirts that were quite formal and appropriate to an office environment. What I noticed is that I virtually had no short-sleeved formal top. All I had was t-shirts, and of course, I started my new job on the hottest week that London had witnessed in the year!

I also noticed I didn’t have a lot of bottoms that looked formal. I had a couple of boring black trousers, but I couldn’t really fit into them anymore. Not only I gained weight thanks to my antidepressants, but I also went back home in Italy for a whole month, and I did not hold back my carb intake.

Whilst back in the days I would have gone on The Strictest Diet Ever Created, my main goal for 2021 was to be gentler with my body. It is getting me through life, and changes, and has fought through depression and ptsd. So whilst I am being careful at exercising and eating healthily, I am not as stubborn as I was in my twenties about fitting in clothes. How many of us have clothes hanging in our wardrobes for “when we will lose the extra weight”?

Let’s get real for a moment! Of course I will not throw away trousers that I know will fit me easily after a couple of weeks of eating more healthily, but I found some jeans I bought when I was in my teens, which frankly is ridicolous. As women our body changes with age and unless you are one of those fortunate creatures whose body shape remains the same throughout the years, it is pointless to think you'll fit in those clothes. And even if you did fit, do they still suit you? You will only end up stressing more.

You gained weight? Go up a size. Nobody gives a fuck.

You lost weight? Go down a size. Nobody gives a fuck.

You wouldn’t love your best friend less if she was a size 14 instead of a size 12. So can we let go of that crap once and for all. Thank yew.

2- Once you make a list of what you need, think about colour combinations.

You all know I love my bright colours, but as tempting as it is to buy a pair of bright yellow power trousers, it comes with a cost: there will be only a limited amount of combinations that you can make with those. If you have little money, choose “easy” colours. My best colours (for tops) is usually blue, black and deep green. Bottoms, I already had dark trousers, so I needed clear neutral trousers/skirts.

3- Think about your shape.

In order to make your capsule wardrobe as efficient as possible, you want to feel good in it. I have wider hips and thigs that I always feel very self-conscious about, so it is pointless for me to but extra skinny trousers that I might wear once before deciding I feel too out-there. Again, if you are confident, then go for it and fuck the body types- that's why we are on this website, afterall.

4- Decide the store, and look out for season sales- I was very lucky and got the Summer sale just in time!

Do you want to go ethical? Or just fast-shop until you get your next salary? The choice is yours.

A good app if you do want to be more ethical when you shop for clothes is Good On You. This app provides an overall rating based on Environment, Workers, and Animals Welfare.

This is a free-judgement area, so I’ll confess that this bit of shopping I was so skint I had to resort to Zara and Primark.

5- Based on points 1-4, I then decided I needed: 4 bottoms (trousers or skirts) in possibly clear and neutral colours. They would have to be oversized as this is what I felt more comfortable with.

I also needed a few tops, in different colours. Possibly boho, flowy, something that I could wear on its own if it was really hot, or that could give me room to layer it up in case it became cold again. For those of you that do not live in London, we had a week that started at 34 degrees and ended at 17 degrees, so it can be quite difficult to predict what you’ll need. So better to buy “layerable” things.

6- Based on the little money I had, I looked for trousers at Zara. It had a sale, so I was able to get three trousers for 24£.

Tops- wise, I resorted to Primani and got very nice, very simple shirts: one in black, one in green and two in light blue.

By complete chance, I was buying food at tesco and I saw a lovely skirt that I impulsively bought- 15£

Shoes: chunky flat black shoes from ASOS- 28£

So, that is (roughly) 117£ for A TON of new outfits. I have been working for a month and a half now, and not only I don’t even need anything new, but I also received a lot of compliments (and new clients!)

So let’s have a look in detail:

This is my lovely Tesco skirt- I like to pair it with black, brown and military green. You can dress it up or down just by switching shoes. Very very very versatile.

Chunky black shoes go well with culotte trousers.

Oversized trousers from Zara: I love them, especially after gaining weight, as I was quite self conscious about it! Oversized trousers look elegant and they hide the extra kilos perfectly (By no means I think I'm overweight, just self-conscious about a 5 kilos gain- y'all know the feeling).

Zara Trousers and high heels, with my new Primani black top.

Paperbag trousers with a bit of a colour on top (this things I already owned, but they mix and match beautifully with everything that I bought- new and more, way more matches available).

I might invest in some more tops and maybe an extra pair of trousers from ME+EM (my most favourite brand for timeless chich elegance) but overall, you do not need endless money for a good outfit.

And of course, casual Fridays- I couldn't help myself but buy new shoes with my first salary (but I dind't need to just to be clear.)

Hope this helps whoever out there is starting a new adventure and wants to be well dressed!

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