How To Shop for Interview Clothes on a Recent Graduate’s Budget.

You just graduated from college (or you’re still in school!) Now you’re making the interview rounds for your first “real” job, grad school, or med/law school.

What sucks is that you have to look the part without the cash. Those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves. So what’s a frum fashionista on the interview track do on a student budget?

VIP people you’ll need:

  • A shopping buddy with an eye for fashion.
  • A tailor. This person will become your BFF.

  1. Raid your closet: Work with what you have: don’t buy what you absolute don’t need. Get rid of what doesn’t fit you anymore: style wise or fit. Make sure what’s left is in good condition. The look you’re aiming for is timeless- not dated or trendy. (If you’re going to the creative field like music/art then you have a little more wiggle room. Not much though!)
  2. Raid your friends’ closets: Check out your friends’ wardrobes. Most likely your friends going through the same thing! Pool your resources by setting up a clothing/accessory exchange so that you all have decent interview outfits. Make sure you are the same size/body shape. I’m usually the tallest in my circles of friends. Oftentimes, my clothes are useless to others. What I do have is killer accessories!
  3. Hit the stores. Stick to the basics: blazer, slacks, button-down shirt and dress shoes, and a briefcase if you’re feeling really ambitious or have extra money.
  4. Try discount designer places first for larger expenses, like jackets and for accessories, like belts.
  5. Hit DSW! DSW has a large selection of work-appropriate styles. Others have had luck with Payless.
  6. Purchase several button-down shirts at time. If you have multiple interviews lined up, you can use the same blazer and pants without having to launder a shirt in between interviews, or if you get hired, a new shirt makes a new outfit.

Tips and Warnings:

  • Safety-pins are for punks!: Take your clothes to a professional tailor! Well-fitted clothes make a difference.
  • Don’t get too daring!: Stay away from prints and colors that are too bold. Stick with basic colors like black, brown, navy and gray instead and subtle patterns. 
  • Avoid synthetics!: I wish polyester died with the 70s because it looks cheap. Plus, they are hot and show sweat stains. Not the professional image you want to project.
  • Keep it subtle: no strong perfume or bold/jangly jewelry.
  • Power-chic; not super-sweet:  Avoid girly gear like pastels, ruffles, sugary prints.  You want to exude a vibe of authority and a willingness to take risks!
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