I recently learned of an assignment one of my professor friends assigned to her students as a part of a career readiness class. I was so excited by what she told me because I wish more of us had learned early on that a lacking wardrobe is no excuse for a lack luster outfit in an interview. The assignment released the students into the city for the day with a budget of $15.00. Their task? To find, photograph and record the cost of all pieces for full interview dress attire. My friend reported that each time her students returned surprised that they were in fact able to accomplish their task. So how do they do it? “Bippity Boppity Boo,” let me grab my fairy godmother wand and tell yooooou!
As you may have guessed, these thrifty shoppers hit up their local Goodwill, Salvation Army and re-sale stores. If you’ve not bargain-shopped quite like this before, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The stories are true- many items sell for $3, $1 or even less! Need something other than a shirt or pants? Many of these stores even sell purses, shoes, scarves, gloves and sometimes even jewelry.
Plan for a bit of extra time. Most resale stores these days carry any brand in any size. It is likely you will want to try on anything before making a purchase. Also, a lot of the stores are organized by category and then sub-ordered by color and size. Unlike racks at your usual department store, each rack will have a wide variety of shades, shapes, textures, etc. When you select your color or size, you will have to slide through each and every item within the section.
Go for modesty in angles, solids and one splash of color. Depending on the store, you may find an excess of options more mature than you hoped for (I have found this to be the case for myself quiet often, actually.) Try to embrace it for your angles. Blazers and suit jackets are timeless. Also, the retro look has really remained fairly contemporary within the business world. Pick a blazer. If it has a pattern, go with solids for everything else. If it is solid, find a matching piece that can be your “splash”. Typically, navy, black, khaki or brown are your safest options for colors. Royal blue, red and perhaps a deep green would be second choice.
An interview is not the time to bust out your neons, puce or glitter pieces. Pair your blazer with pants or a skirt you can find or perhaps already own. Then, all that’s left is a shirt! Men- it will be more of a challenge for you to find a nice button down than it will be for a woman to find a blouse. Sorry! You might just need to grab a coupon and go to your department store for that. Add some shoes, and perhaps jewelry, and you’re set. At a Goodwill or similar store, let’s say the blazer was $8, the pants $5 and the blouse $1. You’re all set for less than your $15 budget! Check the pieces you already have before so you can incorporate new pieces into your wardrobe.
Bring cash. Most resale shops do not accept checks, and many do not take credit or debit. Take your clothes home, wash them and iron them (with starch if possible) for a new, clean, crisp outfit to nail that job!
What thrifty actions do you make to find affordable interview attire? Let us know in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Ace