Looking Professional for Cheap

With books, food and rent to cover, college isn’t a time for overspending on trendy clothes. It is, however, important to make sure you have a grown-up wardrobe now that you’re out of high school; short-shorts and flip flops still have their place, but college presents an increasing number of occasions where you should be dressing professionally. From class presentations to internship interviews, having a selection of “nice” clothes is crucial.

At minimum, you need at least one professional outfit that’s versatile enough to work for any unexpected occasion. The best go-to ensemble is a nice, knee-length skirt or dress with a jacket and heels. If you’re only looking for one nice interview outfit, it may be worth it to splurge a little at a higher end store. This is actually an expense that some parents are willing to help with. If you can make a case that this professional outfit is an investment into your future, Mom or Dad may be willing to pitch in.

For other pieces, you’d be amazed what a thrift store excursion will uncover. Explore your college town’s second hand stores and be on the lookout for clothes that can dress up an outfit. If you’re lucky and persistent, you may be able to find an interview suit and shoes for less than $20. Remember to ask about student discounts and bargain days to make the most of your trip.

Also, look into whether you can borrow from a friend. You’ll have to be extra careful about spills and not everything will fit quite right, but for an unexpected interview or last-minute meeting, a borrowed outfit works perfectly. Shoes and accessories are especially easy to swap.

As for style, look for something simple and classic that will last you more than your four college years, but well into your professional career and beyond. Avoid trends and stick to solid colors instead of patterns; you want your clothes to be as versatile as possible. You can, however, dress up your outfit with accessories. Scarves, necklaces and hair pieces are inexpensive add-ons that can give your ensemble a personal touch. The purpose of an effective interview outfit is to not only prove that you look professional, but express your own personality as well.

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