Dress for success without going broke

Graduation is nearing and with that comes the landing of your first awesome job. This also means some intense interviews. As a potential employee, it is important to advertise yourself not only through your expert resume, but your mature attire. Before you start crunching numbers and hyperventilating about the costs of D&G suits, read below for some tips, straight from thebudgetfashionista.com and Kiplinger.com, on how to gain a respectable interview and work wardrobe without breaking the bank.

1. Take inventory of what you already have in your closet. Don’t go buying new black heels if you already own two good pairs. Stay honest with yourself and know what you’ll wear in the office. Kiplinger says to try and find some classic pieces like a black dress and blazer. Try making a list of what you need and a maximum price you want to spend on each item. That way you’ll have more control as you enter the store and won’t get overwhelmed. The budget fashionista advises that if you have a friend of the same size, you can try setting up a system of switching closets after a year so that you can get new clothes without actually spending the money.

2. Stick to outlet malls and discounted stores. Both sites offered these words of wisdom. Guys, when looking for your suits check out Burlington Coat Factory. They pride themselves on offering name brands 65 percent off from their original cost. Men’s Warehouse also tends to have ‘BOGO’ deals on full suits — it all depends on your timing. Ladies, TJ Maxx is getting better with their range of quality clothes for reasonable prices, so check there, as well as Burlington Coat Factory and Marshalls for your suits, skirts, and blouses. The Tanger Outlets and Premium Outlets are also chock-full of deals, so consider taking a little day trip down to San Marcos.

3. Mix and Match. The budget fashionista says to “aim for versatility.” If working in a corporate office, this rule is extremely helpful. Invest in a couple good, cool-toned suits like navy and black. These will become your staple outfit, and then you can add a pop of color with fun silk blouses, ties, and scarves underneath. Experts suggest the 70/30 rule: make 70 percent of your wardrobe clothes that won’t ever go out of style like a dark pencil skirt, black pair of pumps and a basic white button up top for women; and dark blazers, black slacks and white button ups for men. The other 30 percent can consist of fun but work appropriate clothing and accessories.

4. Shop with cash only. This is a strategy I’ve learned myself while shopping, though it was due to a negative experience of a sudden 3-month long spending freeze. Research what you think is a reasonable cost for each item you need, set what you want to spend and take it out at the ATM. It’s all too easy to swipe that shiny piece of plastic and forget to keep track of what you’re spending. If you keep the money in cash, you’ll be much less willing to waste it on something you don’t really need. At the end of the day, you will leave feeling successful rather than regretful. Also, find a great tailor. A lot of what makes clothes look sharp and professional is how it fits. So if you buy some cheap slacks, make them look expensive by taking them in.

Dressing professionally on a budget isn’t impossible as long as you keep track of good sales, plan ahead and monitor your own spending. The clothes you wear to your interview and work simply add to the person you are. So use them as proof of your potential.