How do I dress well on a budget?

April 8, 2018 5:34 AM

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I am on the job hunt, but I am somewhat anxious as I do not have nice clothes that can be worn to an interview. I know that dressing professionally is a part of the interview assessment, but I have very limited funds. What do you suggest I do?

It is true that dressing professionally is factored as a part of your self-presentation during an interview. This does not, however, mean that you have to have expensive clothing. You can assemble a professional wardrobe even on a limited budget. Please consider the suggestions given below.

• Select tailored clothing. It is better to invest in a few high-quality outfits that can be worn interchangeably, than in numerous extravagant or poor-quality pieces. Please note that high-quality does not mean it has to be expensive.

• Include in your selection at least one dark-coloured suit. Dark coloured is preferred as they tend to be more versatile. Additionally, a suit tends to boost your confidence and gives you an authoritative look.

• Jackets and blazers, whether as suits or separates, are vital and versatile for mixing and matching.

• Skirts and or pants — A few pieces of separates are essential as they can be worn with a simple shirt or blouse or mixed and matched with pieces from your suit.

• Shirts or blouses — Buy a few well-made pieces of versatile colours that are complimentary to your suit or separates.

• Clothing care — Neatly mend clothing that are torn or frayed. Be creative, for example, an accent motif could be added to a lapel that was accidentally scorched during pressing. Replace missing buttons; sometimes this may require that for consistency you have to change the entire set.

• Fit — Select clothing that are a good fit; not too tight or too loose. Skirts should not be too short and trousers should cover the ankles.

• Shoes — Try to have at least one pair of comfortable, sturdy closed-toe shoes. Be sure to clean and maintain your shoes to ensure that you have them for a long time. Ladies, flip-flops and gladiators should be avoided.Stiletto heels may be viewed as a hazard, therefore wear with caution.

• Socks and hosiery — Men should wear socks of solid colours that are complementary to trousers. Women, hosiery should likewise be close to your skin tone or complementary to your hemline.

• Belts — Men should always wear belts with trousers that have loops. The colour of your belt should match or coordinate with the colour of your shoes.

• Handbags or cases — Avoid handbags, cases, or portfolios that are too large and cluttered with too many things.

• Accessories — Limit jewellery and accessories to a few small basic pieces. A wristwatch is always a good choice.

Go forward with confidence. You can have a professional wardrobe on a limited budget.

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at


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