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How to get interview ready on a budget

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Sometimes growing up can be great - choosing your own dinner, making your own decisions, and staying up as late (or as early) as you like all undoubtedly have their perks. But, with being an adult comes responsibility, and more often than not with responsibility, comes smart clothing. 

 

For those of us born without the sharp-dresser gene, adulting often launches us into situation which our wardrobe - and as a result, our bank balance - is simply not prepared for. But fear not: be it a grad scheme interview or an important networking event, here are our tips for looking smart without blowing your whole student loan on loafers and crisp cotton:

 

Image credit: Jozsef Hocza on Unsplash

Jeans and a nice top?

There is nothing wrong with dropping your interviewer or potential employer a quick email to enquire about the dress code for the event in question. If anything, they’ll be impressed by your forward-thinking and keenness to embrace the occasion correctly. I have asked this before every interview I’ve ever had, and I know I’ve saved so much money in doing so; more than once, the dress code has been more casual than anticipated, so I’ve not bought a brand new skirt only to turn up and find out that my black jeans would’ve sufficed.

Image credit: Tim Gouw on Unsplash

What’s mine is yours

I struggle to believe that between a group of friends, no one owns anything suitable for a smarter event. Before you buy a shirt, skirt, and loafers, ask around to see if anyone has anything that you can borrow. You’re on a uni campus that hosts thousands of young people with wardrobes: make the most of it and help each other out.

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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Charity shops near uni campuses are treasure troves when it comes to second-hand steals. In terms of items that are typically more expensive, like tailored trousers and blazers, always look for pre-loved options first - the chances are it’ll be cheaper to buy second-hand and get something dry cleaned than it would be to buy something brand new.

Image credit: Prudence Earl on Unsplash

For the many, not the few

As you begin to craft your adult-life wardrobe, it’s probably best to start with the timeless classics and gradually incorporate more unique pieces into your collection.  So, instead of opting for a pair of snake print flats, invest in a black pair first; there is very little they won’t go with, so next time you’re in this situation you’ll be good to go already. If you wow the interviewer with your skills and get the job, you’ve already bought a go-to piece that you can now get loads of use out of, and if you’re not successful first time round, you’ve got something you can definitely wear to your next interview. 

Image credit: Amanda Vick on Unsplash

 

I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it

Buy something that you genuinely like. I am not a loafers and tailored skirt kind of girl and I never will be. I cannot see myself ever voluntarily wearing either of those items, so I simply don’t buy them. When I had an interview last year, I bought a pair of black suede sock boots and some tailored but loose-fitting trousers and paired them with a smarter jacket that I already owned, and I have proceeded to re-wear all of those items since.  Don’t believe that just because the role you’re interviewing for is “grown up” and/or corporate, you have to lose every shred of personality you’ve spent years curating; embrace it, and show the employer what an interesting individual you are!  

 

Image credit: Svetlana Pochatun on Unsplash

Whatever it is you’re dressing for, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident. Putting your best foot forward doesn't always meaning putting your shiniest, leather-clad foot forward. If suits and brogues are your thing then go for it, buy them by the dozen, but if they’re not then don’t force yourself into them for the sake of tradition. Be unapologetically yourself, and the right role will come along at the right time, even if it takes a few interviews to get there. 

Lead image credit: Brooke Lark on Unsplash




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