Posted in Career Best Practices
Resume? Proofed, printed and ready to go.
Interview prep? Employer research completed; answers to common questions well-rehearsed.
Driving route? Planned out.
You're all set to nail your next interview, with one important exception:
You have nothing to wear – and not a lot to spend on a new outfit.
Obviously, you need to look your best for your interview. But when funds are tight, how can you pull together the right look? Here are a few cost-conscious tips to ensure you dress to impress without blowing your budget:
Shop your closet.
Before you buy anything, comb through your closet. Even if you don't have a complete interview outfit, look for basics you could build on.
Women's interview outfit basics include:
- crisp, white button-down blouse
- black, white or beige crewneck sweater or cardigan in black
- black or navy dress pants or pencil skirt
- simple, dark-colored dress
- solid, neutral-colored blazer
- black pumps and nude pumps
Men's interview outfit basics include:
- business suit
- white, blue or other neutral-colored dress shirt
- khakis or neutral chinos
- black or brown belt
- classic-style watch
- V-neck sweater or cardigan in neutral color
- dress shoes or loafers
- subtly printed or solid necktie
Find items like these in your closet, try everything on, and then choose the pieces that fit best and are in the best condition. Use those as the basis for your interview outfit.
Make a list of items you need to "fill in the blanks" – then choose the right retailers:
- Unless they're advertising a major sale, stay away from high-end department stores.
- Look for high-quality items at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall's. Even Target has started carrying interview-appropriate looks that don't cost a fortune.
- Head straight for sale racks first, to see if you can find items on your list there.
- If you're not an expert bargain-hunter or stylist, ask a friend or relative for help.
Consider borrowing accessories.
Need a pair of earrings or a belt to complete your outfit? Before you lay out the cash, see if a friend or family member has something you could borrow. Once your cashflow improves, you can begin investing in work-appropriate accessories.
Don't forget important freebies.
These details make you look polished and professional – and they don't cost a thing:
- Well-pressed clothes. Wrinkles make you look messy.
- Manicured nails. Clean, filed nails (with a coat of clear polish for women) are essential.
- Lint-free linens. Use your lint roller (or packing tape in a pinch) in natural light to banish bunnies.
- Clean, well-groomed hair. Choose a conservative look for interview day.
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