Dressing for the Job You Want with the Budget You Have

You’ve landed the interview of your dreams. You’ve got a week to research, practice answering job interview questions, and pull an outfit together. You open your post college closet to find hoodies, maybe a pencil skirt or two, your “fancy” dress, and a blouse from your work. This isn’t going to work.

Shopping for a new job interview outfit can be fun – if you have money to spend! Shopping for something you need when you have a budget of next-to-nothing can be absolutely maddening. But don’t worry! Here are five tips for getting those staple wardrobe pieces that will make you stand out even in the toughest interview.

1. Just ask! - Is your birthday coming up? Major holiday? Ask your parents and family members to skip out on the potted plants or Macaroni Grill gift coupons. Ask them for a few staple wardrobe items that you simply can’t score due to your current budget restrictions. Give them specific items (little black dress from Bloomingdales Size 4, pretty please!) or ask for gift cards to higher end department stores and retailers, and hold yourself to getting items that are sophisticated and versatile.

2. Before you start shopping… - It can be tempting when you receive good news, like the interview of your dreams, to dash out the door and do some serious shopping to prepare for the occasion. Stop! Check CouponPal.com for coupons from your favorite retailers. Google promotional codes if you’re doing online retail therapy. Not only will this help you narrow down what stores you’ll be heading to, you’ll save some serious dinero that you can use on celebration drinks when you land that dream job!

3. Ask for sales - This might seem really obvious, but I honestly didn’t know you could do this. Maybe I’m just a timid shopper. When you're in a store, ask a salesperson when their next sale is or when a specific item will be on sale. They’ll tell you! Many retailers have regular weekly or monthly sales. Only go to the stores on those days, so you won’t be tempted to drop money on items that don’t have a % off sticker.  

4. Road trip! - Outlet malls can make for a fun road trip! But be warned. Those places will rope you into dropping lots of cash under the guise of cheap. Just because it’s an outlet doesn’t mean it’s the best possible price. Just make sure you go in with a specific list of items you need and your budget written out. Use the buddy system with your friends and hold each other to your lists and budgets.

5. A little goes a long way - When it comes to the job hunt, you don't need an entirely new outfit for every job interview. For women, invest in a few staple pieces: a little black dress, a simple skirt, and a blazer. Then when you land an interview, you can splurge on a few cheap accessories or a new top. For men, invest in a great pair of basic trousers. Get them tailored so they fit you really well. Also, invest in your shoes. Guys don’t have a lot when it comes to accessories, but if you’ve got a tailored pant and a great pair of shoes you can mix and match various shirts, ties and sweaters.

By: Bridget Lappert

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