Looking the part is key to acing an interview. It makes you feel good, it ensures you look good, and it could encourage the company you’re interviewing with to hire you. Dressing sloppily is a sure way to make a bad first impression, so you need an outfit that looks professional – but that can come with a high price tag.
Not everybody wants to fork over a lot of cash for the clothes they’ll wear, and if you’re not currently employed, you might not have the money to do so anyway. We’re going to explore some of the best stores for finding affordable interview clothes, so you can look confident and competent, without spending a fortune.
Of course, there are plenty of places to buy clothes, but buying affordable and stylish clothes for your big interview is the sweet spot. Ideally, you want to buy clothes that can be reused in a professional setting, especially in the scenario that you get the job and need some threads to wear around the office.
Thrift stores are an excellent starting place for shopping for interview clothes. Not all areas have great thrift stores, but some do – and you can access a wide range of gently-used clothing in all shapes and sizes.
You’ll find suits, blouses, skirts, jackets, and dress pants, as well as some great accessories, at a fraction of the cost of buying these items new. You may have to put a bit of time and effort into finding things that suit you and that look good, but that will be recouped in the price savings!
If you don’t like thrifting or don’t have suitable thrift stores near you, you can check out a whole range of discount retailers. Stores like T.J. Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls offer some excellent, brand-new clothes with pretty small price tags.
You’ll find everything from shoes to suits, blazers to blouses, and more in these stores. They often get new stock in, so if you don’t find anything at first glance, remember to check back in. There may be something better next time.
You can also try places like Macy’s and H&M, which have many different clothes, suitable for both men and women. Shopping at a range of stores may make it easier to put together an outfit that you love and feel good in.
It’s often wise to opt for darker colors when interviewing, although a splash of a brighter hue in a scarf or tie can be appropriate. Dark colors are generally considered more professional because they look more elegant and sophisticated. According to Forbes, black is associated with assertiveness, too.
An outlet mall can be like a treasure trove, and it’s a fantastic way to shop on a budget. You’ll find brand-name items from last season at a significantly lower price than you would have paid originally.
The great news about professional attire is that it doesn’t tend to change very fast. It doesn’t matter if that particular suit is from last year’s line – it will still be great for an interview. So what if the blouse was popular last season? You’ll look just as good in it now.
This is a great way to shop on a budget, while still accessing brand-new items from big stores. If you’ve got an outlet mall nearby, you’ll want to check it out.
It’s a good idea to dress more conservatively than you think you need to for most job interviews (although it’s also important to know your industry). In most cases, job interviews have remained formal, and you’ll be expected to turn up in a suit or another highly professional outfit, even if you wouldn’t wear one on the job.
Overall, it’s better to over-dress than under-dress when it comes to interviewing, so look out for the smartest items you can see, and opt for these over more casual attire.
Online retailers offer a vast array of clothing options and the convenience of shopping at any time. Whether you're a working professional with a tight schedule or simply prefer the ease of online shopping, these retailers have got you covered. Here are some noteworthy online retailers to consider:
Forever 21 provides a comprehensive online store with a wide selection of clothing for both men and women (but mostly women).
Amazon's vast marketplace offers a diverse range of clothing from various brands and sellers.
ASOS is a popular online destination for trendy and affordable fashion.
A department store sale is an ideal place for getting a suitable interview outfit, especially if you happen to need one during the back-to-school period or the holiday season. You can pick up some real bargains during these times, and if you sign up for the loyalty program, you may be able to shave even more off your purchase.
It’s a good idea to sign up for department store newsletters so that you can easily tell when a sale is coming up, and make sure you’re available to take advantage of it.
A consignment shop is another great option if you want some high-end clothing that you’re unlikely to find in a thrift store, but you need to stick to a budget. Consignment stores often have higher-end clothing than you would see in a thrift store, but they are still a lot more affordable than buying the items brand new.
You may find some designer brands and some truly high-quality interview options, which could last you for years – so it’s well worth checking these out. You’ll find everything from full interview outfits to a wide range of accessories, including scarves, belts, and ties.
These little touches can be a great way to pull an outfit together, so don’t dismiss them. Accessories matter whether you’re male or female, and they can complete your look and increase your confidence on the day.
However, you don’t need to go wild; one or two simple additions will look put-together and confident while having too many accessories with your outfit could look cluttered and clumsy.
Pay attention to the fabric of the clothes you choose, and know in advance if you are going to need to have it pressed. While many professional outfits today don’t need to be ironed, you should check in advance. Nothing looks worse than turning up in clothes that look like you’ve spent the night in them!
Similarly, make sure you can clean and polish your shoes, and check that all the items look good together.
Buying interview clothes doesn’t have to be super expensive, especially if you give yourself plenty of time and you’re prepared to do a bit of browsing. Thrift stores, consignment stores, and the online retail space can be great options.
If you’re short of time and you want something quickly, try discount retailers like T.J. Maxx, or head to your nearest outlet mall. You don’t need to spend a fortune!