Q. I’ve been out of work for a few months and finally have a really promising interview. Since I’ve had to cut corners lately, I don’t really have a lot to spend on an interview outfit. Can you recommend something affordable that I can get more than one wear out of?
A. It’s a lot easier to dress to impress a potential employer on a budget than you might think. We consulted Ryan Kohnen, the 29-year-old entrepreneur and author of the new book Young Professional’s Guide To Success and he offered these top 5 ways to dress for a job interview for less than $100:
1. Go monochromatic. Dressing in one color is always polished and can make up for the fact that your suit isn’t Armani.
2. Develop a relationship with a tailor. Even a $20 pair of Gap dress pants are interview-worthy if they fit right.
3. Discount retailers and off-season sales are your friends. Last season’s perfectly fashionable castoffs can be yours for often one quarter of the price.
4. Separates are an option, especially in neutral colors. A navy cardigan can replace a navy jacket-especially when paired with a navy pencil skirt.
5. Limit jewelry. It can tend towards expensive or showy, and neither will do you any favors while you’re looking for work.
What we say: Simple is better. Unless you are interviewing for a position in the fashion or style industry, it’s best to keep your look simple and classic. Avoid anything overly trendy or detailed, especially when you’re looking for clothes on a budget.
A simple seasonless sheath dress or pencil skirt in a basic color are perfect foundation pieces for your interview and work wardrobe. Add interest and dimension with jackets, cardigans, belts and jewelry to change up your look. Invest in rich looking accessories like a chic work tote and great looking shoes. They don’t have to be designer, but the materials should be of the best quality you can afford. Be sure to wear hosiery if you are interviewing at a conservative corporate office. If you’re unsure, it’s best to be safe and wear pantyhose or tights.
Below are some mix and match options that are affordable, classic and seasonless, so you’ll get a lot of wear out of them when you finally land the big job!