Professional Dress on a Budget

Does professional dress for job interviews still matter? What does “professional dress” mean? How can I dress professionally on a college student’s budget? And where can I even find professional attire in the first place?

Do these questions resonate with you? If so, we are here to help answer those for you!

Yes, professional dress for internship/job interviews, networking events, and other professional engagement opportunities still matters. Although the day to day attire at a company might be very casual, professional dress is still expected for the interview. This includes virtual interviews!

Professional dress helps to portray your seriousness about the opportunity, preparation for the interview, interest in the company and gratitude for the opportunity, all without you saying a word! It also provides the employer with a sneak peek into how you would represent the company in meetings with clients and at other company events. It really is the first step in making a great first impression.

Even better? Dressing professionally for an interview has the effect of making you feel more confident! Confidence is a huge part in acing the interview. Dressing professionally means dressing for your profession, rather of dressing for class or the gym. With that in mind, we usually are more serious about our professions and our careers than we are our gym classes, and professional dress helps us to demonstrate the level of respect we have for our work, our careers, our industry and our colleagues. These are some great examples of professional dress from the CCD website:

  • Dress pants or skirt with a button-down shirt or blouse. To make this more formal, you can add a blazer.
  • A suit, pants/skirt with a matching blazer
  • A dress with a blazer or cardigan

For more info on dressing professionally, the CCD has created a video to help you.

On a college student budget? No worries! There are plenty of ways to dress professionally on little to no budget at all.

Start with your own closet! Many of you might have dress pants, a button-down shirt, a dress or a cardigan in your closet already. Instead of wearing that cardigan you already own with jeans, pair it with a solid color dress.

If you are looking to add to your wardrobe however, there are plenty of options for shopping at a discount. Try ecommerce sites that sell used clothing at a major discount, such as Poshmark, Ebay, thredUp, and more. Goodwill also has a designated section for professional attire, which is also walking distance from the BU campus! Other retailers that offer professional dress for less include H&M, Ann Taylor Loft, Old Navy, Express, Kohl’s and the Nordstrom Rack.

The items you choose can of course make a difference in price as well. A suit is typically more expensive than dress pants and a button-down shirt. But you can also look at the suit as an investment, one that will get you through your many interviews over the course of your college career, networking events, presentations and even life after BU!

Overall, try to think of professional attire like an addition to your resume; something to aid in your job search process. Dressing professionally creates a positive first impression for you, it helps you to present yourself as more confident and trustworthy to employers, and will serve you well into your career after BU.

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