• Phuong

Budget Buys: Multi-purpose Clothes

There is nothing quite like the feeling I get when I find a great deal. Especially when something is multi-purpose! Since Ayumi’s post is about all the ways even a simple belt can change your life, I thought it’d be appropriate to have the first Budget Buys post to be about some multipurpose clothes that belong in your wardrobe to make your life 500% easier! If you’re a busy student like me and want to look cute while on a budget, here are 6 essential things to have in your wardrobe:


1) Belts. Go ahead and read Ayumi’s great post (Lab Lewks: Belts) about all the ways a belt can truly change your wardrobe. It instantly elevates any look (even frumpy sweaters!) and is great to throw on if you're having a particularly lazy day. It’s a fun read, I promise.

PLUS if you're really trying to minimize your lifestyle, getting a reversible belt is a great 2-in-1 option. More choices without the clutter, now this is something I can get behind.


2) Blazers. Yes, blazers can cost a lot of money, especially a fitted one. But given that you’re a hardworking student who has networking events, presentations to give, conferences and interviews to attend they’re worth it! Just one will last you years, and it’ll be a great investment. You can throw a blazer over a button-down shirt to make an outfit more professional. You can even throw one over a tshirt and jeans to make yourself look more polished. Blazers will instantly make any outfit--formal or casual--stand out more, with little effort!

Now layer that t-shirt with a blazer and you're ready to rock any meeting or presentation!


3) Buttoned shirts. No need to say much about this, anything that applies to a blazer can also apply to a buttoned shirt. You can pair this with slacks for a professional look or colorful, fun pants for a more casual look. Button-downs come in SO MANY patterns and colors too, so definitely play around with them. You can tie the ends button-down shirt into a fun knot for a night out after work as well, so these are definitely easy pieces to transform into work-play styles.



4) Sweaters/Cardigans. I’ll say this once: if you work in a lab, it’s crucial to dress in layers. Especially in the summer when ACs in the lab are on full-blast to compensate for the heat. Labs are full of sensitive, expensive equipment such as microscopes and computers that need to be kept at low temperatures, for fear of overheating and damage to the hardware. Sweaters are great to don over a tshirt, button down, dress, you name it! Put on a sweater before getting stuck in a dark, cold microscopy room for 3 hours....and simply take it off when you’re done. I recommend doing a French tuck to your sweater, to make yourself look more polished without sacrificing the comfort of an oversized, fuzzy sweater.

Belts are great with frumpy, oversized sweaters to polish up a cozy look.


5) Boots. I love me a good ankle boot. You can wear them on any occasion and protect your feet from puddles! Since only close-toed shoes can be worn in lab, your only two options are really: sneakers and boots. Sneakers are fine and all, but they do get wet (especially canvas or mesh ones!) which is a big issue that I face being in Seattle. Boots are lab appropriate, cute with any outfit, and can be worn rain or shine! Truly a good go-to shoe for any of your needs.



6) Watches. To me, watches had always been an accessory to make an outfit look ‘finished.’ But ever since working in a research lab, I have realized that they are so handy to have around! People like to say “why have a watch when your phone keeps track of time for you?” Well, those people don’t have to work in sterile environments or wear gloves on all day, so they don’t know how annoying it can be to pull out your phone from your lab coat every couple minutes to time an experiment. Ever since I started using my FitBit (not sponsored, I promise), I almost never consult my phone to time experiments anymore. In fact, I’m saving more time by simply glancing at my wrist than by taking my gloves off to pull my phone out of my pocket! There are also many digital watches on the market right now that are multi-purpose: sleep tracker, step counter, heart rate monitor to name a few. These can also be an investment piece, but you’ll use it every day, and it definitely makes life as a student a whole lot easier.

I no longer have to fumble through my lab coat pockets for my phone!


As a busy student, it can definitely be hard to have the motivation to dress nicely to class. I am guilty for being the type of person who lived in leggings and a t-shirt. But over the years, I’ve learned  to collect these wardrobe items that really elevated my look and are multi-purpose to boot! These 6 items can be worn up or down, and you can switch out pieces every day to get a new look with the same articles of clothing. Wear a sweater with a t-shirt one day. Switch the sweater out with a blazer the next. Now change into a button-down blouse/shirt and wear it with/without a belt. Boom! Multiple outfit ideas in one week. The best thing about these wardrobe changers is that I found my best pieces at thrift stores! You can definitely be on a budget and look good for different situations at the same time. There is nothing quite like the feeling I get when I find a great deal.