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How to Look Decently Formal in an Entrepreneur’s Budget


Entrepreneurs, contrary to popular belief, aren’t always loaded. In fact, when most business owners start out, they’re often in more debt than a typical college student. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs can’t rely on hoodies and sweats when we’re out at networking parties, or when we are trying to impress clients. Male entrepreneurs in particular tend to find it hard to maintain a professional, formal wardrobe on a tight budget. Luckily, we were able to snag tips from those who have managed to look sharp, even when business wasn’t quite booming. Here are our favorite tips.

  • When shopping for suits, use the rule of three. The rule of three is simple. Triple the amount that you spend on suits, but cut down the amount of suits you own by a third. Cheap suits look cheap, and that’s never fashionable. Your suits are always going to be what attracts the most attention. Everything else can be gotten at a reasonably affordable price.
  • Grab at least one or two small custom-made accessories. We’ve noticed that custom lapel pins and customized cloth squares tend to really make an outfit look much more expensive than it really is. Surprisingly, you can get both of these goodies pretty cheap.
  • Stick to single color ties, ideally made out of satin. Regardless of what width you choose, a single color tie will look classier than a tie that has a print. The only exemption to this rule is a monogrammed tie, and those are best worn at special black tie functions rather than a typical networking party.
  • Black socks trump white socks. White socks are more commonly associated with sportswear, or with people who haven’t noticed that they’re a fashion faux pas yet. Keep black and navy blue socks for work.
  • If you have the money to splurge on a nice watch, shop at a store that is known for serious discounts. Watches definitely do belong in an entrepreneur’s wardrobe, and not just because they can help you figure out how late you are for your next meeting. A watch can be a status symbol, as well as a focal point of your ensemble. A good watch will not be too gaudy, but will still stand out amongst your peers.
  • Keep an eye on cufflinks. If you’re at a formal function, or even if you want to just be known for your knack for pulling together a great outfit, make sure to snag at least one pair of good cufflinks. Gold cufflinks work well with navy blue jackets, while silver is more traditionally paired with black and grey suits.
  • A sweater or cardigan can be a good pairing in more casual business meetings. Never underestimate the power of a well-fitted cardigan. They work well in business casual meetings, and they’re surprisingly snug.
  • Maintain your shoes. Even the priciest shoes will look shoddy and cheap if they are not well-maintained. Less expensive shoes, on the other hand, will look pretty good as long as you give them the care that they deserve. A little shoe polish goes a long way, so make sure to spend time maintaining your formal shoes.
  • Don’t make the mistake of using too much cologne. The way you smell will also impact the first impression people have of you. A little dab’ll do ya in most cases, so don’t make this all-too-common mistake.

Men’s fashion is pretty easy to work with, once you know how to make the most of your budget. As long as you stick to a traditional clothing plan, you will probably find that a very tight budget doesn’t mean that your fashion has to look cheap or overly casual.


Written by Regina Due

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