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Do You Believe Work Clothes are an Investment?

News surfaced last week about Republican donors spending over $100,000 in less than a month on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s wardrobe.

Now I think most prudent folks would balk at anybody dropping tens of thousands at Neiman Marcus, but I believe there is some truth to that old saying “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” I also think dropping money in your work clothes—and therefore your image—as the McCain campaign did for Palin, is a smart money move. Do you agree?

I can recall going out and buying a $200 suit to wear at a discount store to an interview for a job that paid roughly a lot more than I was making at the time. I really didn’t want to spend $200 on a suit that I would wear maybe once a year, but I wanted to look good for the interview, and I knew that the suit would not only make me look good, but make me feel more confident as well.

Do you dress well at work as a career move? Do you spend more money on work clothes because of your ambitions?

Published or updated on October 27, 2008

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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  1. Brian says:

    Dress for the job you want not the job you have!

    I dress like the VP or CEO everyday…It shows, I get more respect and have recently received a good promotion.

  2. dana says:

    I think work clothes are an investment, but I certainly don’t spend a fortune. I dress nicely because aesthetics are important in the advertising field, and I want to project creativity and confidence.

    Palin’s expenditure on clothing was ridiculous. Michelle Obama looks equally put together and shops at lower price point mall stores like Black House White Market and J Crew. Nice clothes that fit well and could last you a few years of good use.

  3. No. I don’t believe they are an investment in the sense of that word. An investment returns actual money like dividends 😉 Just to be technical.

    I do think that good clothes are a good IDEA. They make you feel better, more confident, more professional.. and they can do wonders for someone’s personality.

    I did feel the $150k wardrobe was overdone…

  4. I agree. I think a professional wardrobe is a good investment — especially for careers in the corporate environment. Like you mentioned above, dress for the job you want.

    I did, however, feel that the 150K Palin wardrobe was a bit overdone. There’s a difference between investing in a wardrobe with a few key pieces and going overboard. 150K seems a bit excessive.

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