Designer suits, handbags, shoes, and accessories — these are often visual displays of wealth and success. Unfortunately, when looking for our next big opportunity, interviewers expect us to dress the part before we’re actually making the kind of money required to do so.
Luckily, you don’t have to make mega bucks in order to look successful. There are plenty of ways you can dress the part without emptying your wallet. Here are a few tips on how you can dress for success before you’re successful.
1. Rent your outfits
Can’t afford to buy a new suit or dress? Rent it instead.
Rent the Runway is perfect for finding trendy and special-occasion pieces at a fraction of the cost. Essentially, with Rent the Runway you pay to rent a designer piece for a few days or weeks. So instead of paying thousands of dollars, you can rent a designer suit, for instance, for around $100. Rent the Runway is ideal for anyone who is looking to make a big impression, but isn’t quite ready to buy designer clothing. (See also: 50 Ways to Update Your Wardrobe for Cheap)
2. Go thrifting
You may be surprised at what you can find while thrifting. Goodwill, local thrift shops, and consignment stores are all great places to find designer clothing at a discount. You never know what kinds of quality gems are hidden on thrift shop racks. Thrift shops are particularly useful for finding basic pieces, such as professional blouses and skirts. (See also: Thrifting the Perfect Designer Wardrobe)
3. Online consignment shops
If you aren’t having luck with local thrift shops, you can always try consignment clothing websites and apps, such as ThredUp and Poshmark. With these sites, you can score many gently used designer pieces for under $50. Many items sell quickly, so be sure to act fast if you see a piece you really want. You can also sell your unwanted items for credit on these sites, and spend $0 out of pocket shopping for the work attire you need. (See also: Turn Old Clothes Into Money With These 4 Tools and Apps)
4. Shop your friends’ closets
Think you’re too old to share clothes with your siblings or friends? Think again. Many of your peers are likely in the same boat as you. They may be looking for the next step in their career, but don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a new wardrobe. Help a sister (or brother) out when they’re interviewing for a new job by lending them some of your clothes, and they’ll likely to return the favor someday.
5. Keep it neat
Your clothes can play in an important part in your overall look, but what’s even more important is the impression you leave. Simple things, like making sure you’re practicing good posture, smile, and keeping your hair and makeup tidy can make a world of a difference in how others view you.
6. Check out department stores
When considering where to find clothes for cheap, department stores may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But often, they run super sales on clothing you can wear to work, such as suits, bags, and other basics. Keep your eye out to see if you can score some classic pieces for cheap.
7. Befriend the local cobbler
Cobblers might seem slightly old school, but they can miraculously make your old shoes look (and feel) brand-new again. Instead of spending your last dollars to purchase a new pair of shoes, talk to your cobbler to see if he or she can resuscitate what you already have.
8. Skip the dry cleaning
Most dress clothes shouldn’t actually be sent to the cleaners after each wear. For delicates, such as silk or cashmere, dry cleaning can actually damage the fabric. So what can you do?
Silk and cashmere should be hand-washed in most cases in order to extend the life of the piece. Wool suits need to be steamed and cleaned only when necessary. You can purchase a bottle of wool or cashmere cleaner and spot treat any minor stains. To freshen up your suit, you can always wash down the lining or spray with nonirritating fabric freshener.
If you have a few quality clothing pieces already, but are looking to make each outfit more your style, you can always accessorize. Accessories, such as jewelry, purses, pocket squares, or ties don’t have to cost much, but they can update an outfit in an instant. Plus, accessories are easy to store and won’t take up as much space in your closet. (See also: 10 Places to Find Inexpensive Accessories)
10. Keep it simple
When choosing professional pieces, it’s a good idea to choose classic designs with simple, neutral colors. That way, you can mix and match everything in your closet, making it look like you have more clothing options than you really do. And by sticking with the classics, you’ll be able to wear each piece for years to come, which saves you money in the long run. (See also: 5 Wardrobe Basics for Women That Are Worth Investing In)