The truth is, people will judge you based on your appearance. Those who appear neat and well put together have an easier time connecting with others because people tend to feel more comfortable approaching them. Similarly, if you want to be taken seriously, you should take care to look professional.

Looking professional doesn’t mean you have to spend months’ worth of your salary to buy expensive suits. You can dress like professional even with a shoestring budget. The key is taking into consideration the tips below.

How to Look Professional on a Budget

Get the Fit Right

The fit is the most important consideration when it comes to clothes. No matter how high quality the materials and make of the clothes, they won’t look good on you if they don’t fit right. Professional men often wear suits. If your workplace requires you to wear one, make sure your suit fits you well.

The shoulder seam of your suit jacket and dress shirt should sit on the edges of your shoulders and not lower. The length of your shirt sleeves shouldn’t reach your palms, and your suit jacket’s sleeves should be shorter than your shirtsleeves, enough to show half an inch of the shirt cuffs.

For dress pants, they should fit your hips comfortably without a belt, and the seams should stop right on top of your shoes. The legs should fit loosely on your thighs and fall straight or tapered below the knees.

Buy the Best Quality within Your Budget

You don’t have to buy expensive clothes to look professional, but you can’t deny that the best quality suits are usually beyond an ordinary person’s price range. That doesn’t mean that there are no affordable good-quality clothes, though.

You don’t have to waste money just to dress well. There are plenty of fine clothes that are also budget-friendly. And remember, looking stylish and professional doesn’t just depend on the clothing’s price tag. The fit and the color are also crucial in determining if you will look good in them.

To buy good-quality, budget-friendly clothes, choose pieces made from natural fibers, such as cotton, cashmere, linen, silk, and wool. Natural fibers are more durable and can still look good even after several washes. They’re also easier to wash compared to synthetic fabrics.

Additionally, do a pull test on the clothes to check the quality of the stitches. Don’t buy clothes with crooked lines, loose stitches, snags, and visible defects. Check if the buttons and buttonholes are stitched well too.

Follow the Dress Code

Most occasions have specific dress codes. The most formal gatherings—such as award ceremonies, formal balls, state dinners, diplomatic events, evening weddings, and high-society events—require you to wear your full evening dress or white tie.

If you’re an average guy (which means you’re not a prince, a part of high society, or a high official), black tie will likely be the most formal dress code you’ll encounter. Whether it’s a formal, semiformal, or casual affair, following the dress code is essential to look professional.

Learn about how to dress for every occasion through this helpful guide on dress codes for men.

Go for Neutral and Dark Colors

 Bright clothes are fun to wear, but they don’t suit the usual office setting. Most corporate or traditional office settings will require employees to wear dark- or neutral-colored suits. Dark and neutral colors make you look sharp and put together, giving off an aura that you’re ready to do serious business.

Dark- and neutral-colored suits are also easier to wear since they suit most skin tones. And they don’t get dirty easily, so they’re easier to maintain.

Level Up Your Footwear

Looking professional means dressing well from head to toe. That means choosing the right footwear that will suit your clothes. If you’re wearing a suit, you have to pair it with dress shoes. You don’t have to buy several pairs of shoes to match all your clothes.

Men have it easier than women since they only need two pairs of dress shoes (one brown pair and one black pair) to mix and match with any of their professional clothes. If you’re not sure how to match your shoes with your shoes, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you.

Wear Simple and Useful Accessories

Limit the accessories you wear to simple and useful pieces when dressing professionally. Look sharper in a suit by wearing shiny metal cufflinks and tie clip.

Avoid stuffing a bulky wallet in the back pocket of your pants, and use a sleek magnetic money clip like this one from Groovy Groomsmen Gifts. A money clip is easier to carry around, and it doesn’t give your pants an unsightly pump when you put it in your pocket.

For professionals, a leather or metal analog watch is a must-have accessory. It’s both functional and stylish. You can also accessorize with a smartwatch, especially if you’re working in the tech industry.

Maintain Good Grooming

You can dress in the finest clothes, but you’ll never look professional and put together if you have a messy haircut, dirty nails, and a generally untidy appearance. Good grooming is a large part of looking professional.

A person who looks neat and takes care of himself gives off the impression that he can also take care of the other aspects of his life. Self-care also means maintaining a healthy diet, getting proper exercise, and sleeping at least seven hours a day.

Be Confident

You can look sharp and professional in a bargain suit if you hold your head high, straighten your posture, and carry yourself with confidence. Confidence is a powerful accessory. It’s better than a Rolex watch, Italian patent leather shoes, or a high-quality custom-made suit.

Everything in the tips above will help you look professional. However, nothing says professional more than being sure of yourself and your abilities.

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