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Earlier this year at one of Indiana INTERNnet’s intern engagement events, Pete the Planner explained that after graduation, you’re going to need to spend quite a bit of money to develop a professional wardrobe. You can’t show up to job interviews wearing oversized college sweatshirts, jeans and Converse shoes! But, what if you don’t have the money for a snazzy suit? Luckily, there are plenty of ways to find affordable and stylish options.

Thrift Stores
You can find many hidden gems at your local thrift store! Places like Goodwill offer a variety of men’s and women’s suit separates, dresses, shoes and ties. Since blazers are about $5, slacks are $4 and a full suit is $10, you may be able to afford alterations. Tailoring can totally transform your look and have people thinking you spent hundreds. Shh…your secret is safe with me!

Business Casual: Top: $4, Jeans – Levi’s: $5, Cardigan – BCBG: $11

Consignment/Resale Stores
Most of my professional wardrobe comes from Style Encore. Actually, everything except for my shoes in the two outfits I’m pictured in is from Style Encore! It’s owned by the same company that owns Plato’s Closet, but Style Encore has more high-end, professional apparel than Plato’s. They frequently have sales on clearance merchandise, so you can find blazers for $20 or less!

Shop the Sales
I am constantly surprised at some of the deals I find in the sale section of a store. Everywhere from large department stores to smaller shops like White House Black Market, Loft and J. Crew have merchandise marked down.

Business Professional: Dress – Calvin Klein: $1, Blazer – Loft: $15, Shoes – Liz Claiborne: $16 (sale item from JCPenney)

I keep track of flash sales and coupons by signing up for text or email alerts from my favorite stores. At the start of each new season, the sale section is a gold mine of deals because the older merchandise gets marked down. Also, while you’re out holiday shopping, keep your eyes open for sales on items for yourself. You deserve a present too!

Donations

Organizations like Dress for Success and Danny’s Closet of Hope provide those in need with free clothing for interviews. They will give you a complete outfit from head to toe to make a great first impression!

Also, many colleges and universities like Ball State University and Purdue University, have “closets” full of free professional clothing to students who are unable to afford proper interview attire. If you’re unsure if your school has this, reach out to your career center.

 

 

 

 

 

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