Professional Clothes on a Budget

By: McKenzie

Shopping for professional attire can be daunting when you can count how much money is in your bank account using the digits on your hands. When it comes to being job fair season it can become an even bigger stress because this is your first impression to your prospective employers. Luckily there is a cheaper way to find clothing.

Professional Dress on a Budget

Champ’s Closet
Champ’s Closet is for UMD students who need professional clothing. It was created so students in any situation could have access to clothing for jobs and internships. Students are able to make up to one outfit per semester from clothing donated by staff/faculty, maurices, and Main Stream Fashions for Men.

Thrift Stores
Duluth houses many thrift stores such as Goodwill and Savers. These stores provide shoppers with gently used clothing, which was donated by those who no longer had a need for it. Stores like these often feel like you are digging through piles, however, it is like a mini treasure hunt. You never know what you will find.

Consignment Shops
Consignment shops are a great place to get clothing. Shops like these tend to be for those who are either very fashionable or have a unique taste. While some shops can be expensive there are still plenty of them that are affordable. Be sure to not disregard the more expensive ones right away either. There can be hidden gems (especially in the clearance sections).

Secondhand Shops
Secondhand shops like Plato’s Closet are a bit different from thrift stores because instead of donations people sell their clothes to these shops. If you are short on money it might be a good idea to sell your clothing here. Secondhand shops also only accept brand name clothing so if you are stuck on a certain brand then this is your best bet.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Professional vs. Casual: Dress for Ladies

By: Annie

Dressing for the professional world may seem like a daunting task to some, and may not be daunting enough for others. It is important to know what type of attire is appropriate for different professional settings. Employers, co-workers, and clients will make their first impressions within seconds of seeing you—it is in our human nature.

There are two main styles in the professional world, business professional and business casual. In general, job fairs, interviews, and some professions always require business professional. Business casual is appropriate in most workplace settings, at many networking events, and at certain other career-related events. Nevertheless, when it comes to a job fair or an interview, it is always appropriate to dress business professional. Dress for the interview, not the job.

Business professional is more formal. It is a suit, consisting of a tailored jacket and blouse paired with trousers or skirt.

Business casual is more informal. This style may include sweaters, blouses, more casual jackets, and various accessories.

The line between the two styles can get blurry. Depending on your industry, your company, or even your schedule for the day, different attire may be appropriate. Also, the guidelines can change depending on where you are working geographically. For example, nylons and close-toed shoes are common in the Mid-West. However, this is not always true in Los Angeles and other warmer climates.

Here are some examples of business professional versus business casual.

Business Professional:


Business Causal:


Hints to Help You Dress:

  • Look to your boss, or whoever is currently in the position you would like to have someday. How do they dress? Use these people for inspiration, not only in your work but also in your dress!
  • Be cautious of armpits! Add a cardigan or blazer to avoid this problem.
  • No more than seven pieces of jewelry. (Yes, each earring counts as one!)
  • You can wear color and be professional! Just make sure it is right for the setting.

Business casual can allow for a little more creativity, but certain things can never be ignored. I like to remember these things in terms of two-inches.

Two Inch Hints

Note on the skirt rule: This rule can differ depending on body-type. If you can see thigh, or if you have to ask the question, your skirt is most likely too short.

On a final note, dressing professionally does not have to break the bank. Young professionals are not expected to be wearing top-of-the-line designer suits. It is more important that clothes fit properly than carry a fancy label. It may sound shallow to get so hung up on looks, but we all do it to some degree. Judgment is part of being human, so make it work in your favor! You only get to make one first impression!

Most of the dress ideas out there are based on traditional gender roles. Transgender job seekers can dress professionally for the gender they would choose to present in or gender-neutral attire. We have this great infographic on our Pinterest boards that goes through business professional and business casual dress guidelines without assigning gender to specific wardrobe options.

For more on dressing professionally:

And guys, don’t worry, a post for you is coming soon!

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