New job? New look!
Achieving a professional look with a small budget
Change is never easy. This becomes all the more apparent when moving from a carefree life without major responsibilities to a life that’s professional, serious, and full of commitment. One of the first major challenges in life happens when moving from full-time education into employment, either by becoming an employee or launching your career as an entrepreneur. During this transformation period, change appears in every aspect of the working graduate's life. Attitude has to be tweaked; you may need to be more selective with the views that you express (especially via social media), and jokes and laughter have to be tuned down. Above all you will need to try to be more patient as success doesn't always come at your first attempt at job hunting. I'm not suggesting changing your whole personality, but simply by developing an understanding that what was acceptable at University or school may raise eyebrows in a professional environment should set you on the right path. Change in behaviour is often mirrored by the way you look. Appearance is a key factor in professional life; if you want people to believe that you are professional, you should look like one. If you are a fresh graduate, you should save your hoodies, T-shirts, light coloured or ripped jeans, sneakers, and your baggy style for the weekend. Fresh graduates often start on low salaries and therefore have smaller budgets for shopping, so don't feel that you need to spend more than you can afford. The question is how can you achieve a professional look on a low budget?
Check the Dress Code
You should know the dress code of the company you work/aim to work in, and you should check if you have to be in formal suits or whether smart casual is acceptable (this is more prevalent in the creative or IT sectors). You can easily do some research by visiting the office and noting how people are dressed. Once you have an idea you can start looking at what you already have in your wardrobe and decide how much you can afford to invest.
Invest & Mix and Match
Buy your clothes slowly so you can spread the cost throughout the year. When you go shopping, don’t get too
excited. Be smart and decisive, and invest in buying key pieces that you can mix and match. Choose pieces that you can wear for a while until you can afford to buy new items. You will need to have a few formal outfits for official events. Take a list of items or outfits that you are looking for after you know what you already have, and do not buy anything that isn't on your list
Don’t be afraid of discount stores
There is nothing wrong with discount outlets or vintage stores. It doesn’t matter if the piece of clothing is inexpensive. If it looks good on you and gives a nice smart look, buy it. Don’t forget that it saves your budget. Take your time to shop around in an outlet store, you never know what you might find! Mixing a well-tailored suit or skirt with less pricey shirts or blouses you already own will mean that your money will go further. If you don’t like to shop at outlets or boutique stores, take the time to regularly check sales in your favorite stores.
Look for classic pieces that fit well because classic is timeless and can last for many years if you treat your clothes with respect. Tailored, natural materials will often last much longer than man-made materials that may look worn after ten washes. Suits should be professionally dry cleaned but not too often - airing them and brushing them with a clean clothes brush can keep them dust free and looking smart for much longer between cleaning. If buying a tailored suit, buy two pairs of trousers if you can afford it to extend the life of the suit. Shopping at the end of the season is also wise as most stores have sales in preparation for the next season. You can also save coupons to save even more. Don’t forget to focus on items that will last see you through more than one season.
Organise your wardrobe
Knowing what you have in your wardrobe is important. Primarily this helps you to avoid buying multiple pieces that look the same. It is important to have variety; each piece should look slightly different in colour or style so you can mix and match easily, even if you do tend to stick to one palette. Having a varied clothes collection will prevent you from looking like you are wearing the same clothes every day, even if your wardrobe is limited. Wearing accessories can make a big difference in your presentation. However, do not overspend on these items. Having scarves or ties that can be work with multiple outfits is a wise move. Try to choose one or two pairs of shoes in neutral colours that will match most of your outfits (brown, black, blue etc), and take care of them by cleaning and re-heeling when required. Far too much money is spent by young female professionals on designer handbags. Don't fall into this trap. You can purchase expensive accessories over time once you have your job and you have been getting a regular salary.
And finally . . .
Don't forget that your entire appearance needs to be impressive, so make sure that your hair is clean, neat and well styled. Women should avoid wearing too much make-up, whilst men should either be clean-shaven or any facial hair should be neatly trimmed and clean. As a new employee, economise every day by making your own lunch at home and taking it with you. Ordering take-away food, expensive lunches or coffees is one way to waste your hard won and much deserved salary in no time. Take-away lunches are not only costly but have a negative impact on your health and waistline. After so much effort to find the right working wardrobe, you don't want to outgrow your new clothes!