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Dressing for an Interview on a Budget

Job search can be a long process.  By the time you land an interview, the last thing you would like to worry about is what to wear.  Even if a company is business casual, you should be prepared to wear a suit to the interview.  If you have doubts regarding how formal you should dress and are communicating with a recruiter, it is OK to ask about the company culture and dress. In a jeans and t-shirt culture you may want to skip the suit jacket but keep the dress pants.

Below are some tips on what to wear and where to find it without breaking the bank.

For Women:

Suit- Pick a neutral colored suit, such as a black or grey, and pair it with different shirts and accessories to create new outfits.  When purchasing pants think about whether you will interview in heels or flats as this it will make a difference in how long of pants you need.

How to Save: A good quality suit is a worthwhile investment but does not have to come with a large price tag!  Most major retailers sell their extras or items from past seasons at discount stores, and suit styles do not change much between years.  Considering checking out Nordstrom Rack, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross. Keep in mind that if you find something for a great price that doesn’t fit perfectly, you can always have clothes altered.

Blouse- When it comes to tops, one suit + multiple blouses= endless possibilities.  So get a variety of different colors to mix with the suit you bought.  Make sure when blouse shopping that it isn’t too low cut and there are no gaps between buttons (you can check for this by looking at your side profile).

How to Save: You can find blouses for a reasonable cost at most major retailers and discount stores.  Check out an Express or use coupons at a department store.

Shoes- The key is to find flats or heels in a neutral color. Traditional choices are leather or vegan leather. Skip the hot pink flashy heels during the interview process. Remember, you want the interviewer to be focused on you, not your outfit.

How to Save: Shop the clearance sections of your local department store, or hit the shoe section in Target or DSW.

Accessories- You should have a belt, simple jewelry and makeup. With jewelry you can’t go wrong with pearl or stud earrings. It is best to avoid any fragrance in case someone has an allergy. If you do opt for fragrance, lighten the scent by spraying it in the air and walking through it.

How to Save: Check out target or DSW or shop the back of your own closet! Most people have at least one good belt laying around. As for makeup, it should be neutral, most drug store makeup works well.  Some makeup artists swear by Maybelline great lash.

For Men:

Suit- Men should always have a suit in the closet for interviewing and the occasional evening event.  Pick a black, navy or grey suit to get more wear out of it.  Whatever color you choose, make sure it fits well and all of the visible new suit stitching is removed.

How to Save: Check out Nordstrom Rack, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or Men’s Warehouse for low cost suit options or watch for department store sales.  If you can’t commit to a purchasing a suit, consider renting one from Men’s Warehouse.

Dress shirt- You can mix up your outfit using different colored dress shirts. Choose pastel colored shirts such as light blue, and avoid the white shirt and black suit combination.  To make sure your shirt looks good on you take the time to get measured for your dress shirt size; most department stores will do this for free.  They are called fitted shirts for a reason; no baggy clothes.

How to Save: Men’s Warehouse and TJ Maxx both have a great selection of affordable dress shirts.  You can also check for sales at your local department store or deals at second hand stores like Goodwill (they often have unworn dress shirts still in the original packaging).

Tie- A tie can make an outfit pop.  A tie with a subtle pattern is ideal. Do not pick anything with cartoons or large images on it. The goal is to have the interviewer focus on you and not your tie.

How to Save: Ties can be found everywhere. Shop through your closet, a local department store, or check out Goodwill.  These stores will have a great selection to choose from.

Shoes- No tennis shoes allowed! Find a pair of leather or vegan leather shoes in a neutral, dark color and remember not to wear white socks. Consider the color of your suit when purchasing your shoes.

How to Save: Check out DSW or your local department store clearance rack.

That covers how to dress for an interview. If you are ever in doubt about what to wear, always dress on the conservative side. Remember that the focus should be on you and what you bring to the table as a potential employee.

Do you have questions about interview attire? About interviews themselves? Comment below and we’ll get back to you!

Kaila Carty is a Marketing Manager at With over eight million job listings, Simply Hired is the world’s largest job search engine — 25 times the size of the biggest job board. Servicing 20 million monthly users across 24 countries, powers jobs on more than 25,000 network partner sites, including LinkedIn, CNNMoney, The Washington Post and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Reaching passive as well as active candidates, the Simply Hired network delivers millions of targeted job applicants and boasts one of the lowest cost-per-hire rates in the industry. 

Photos Courtesy of: gcoldironjr2003ljlandreLauren CloseRobert Bejil Photographyjoshuahoffmanphotostevendepoloneedopticcongaman (Dave)

Posted 4:13 PM

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