Looking Put Together On A Budget

Put together, these simple tips can help you win that next job.


Like it or not, we are all judged on what we wear to interviews and how we bear ourselves in front of recruiters. In an ideal world, we would only be judged by our skills and abilities and not by how we look, what we wear, or how we present ourselves. Too bad. In 2020, with the global economy creaking, discretionary income can be harder than ever to come by, which means you might not have money to buy something new for your next interview. Looking put together on a budget is the smartest way to go, and the smallest things can go a long way in helping you present yourself at your best. The best part? Only you will know. Here are some simple tips that will help you package yourself and get noticed in the right ways.

Looking put together – the basics. If you’re usually the type of person who is ‘put together’ then keep it up. For one thing, it will probably make you feel more confident if you feel more put together. If you do show up in a more casual way than you ordinarily do, some people will notice the difference. Keeping up appearances can be good for our self esteem and for continuity, if nothing else, so appear like the person they expect to see. If you never dress up, or shave, or do your hair, or even comb your hair, these little things will be noticed, and, like it or not, can reflect on our competency in the eyes of recruiters. Here are some 2020 tips for getting your look put together for men and women.

Wear your newest and nicest. Not everyone can afford new clothes or even expensive clothes. Luckily, you can put yourself together inexpensively, by buffing up what you already have with a new shirt or blouse on the cheap. It sounds downmarket, but there are many people I know who shop for label clothing at thrift stores, where you can find tremendous deals on great quality clothing. Of course, you need to take the time to do it, and you pretty much must love shopping, but with a little time and energy you could find yourself brand names for a fraction of the retail cost. Most towns and cities have at least one thrift store. Count yourself lucky if you live in a metro area where you can visit a few thrift stores for bargains. With the trends towards renting clothes and recycling clothes, there’s no need to feel bad about bargains.

Do your nails. This goes for the guys, too. Make sure your nails are at least trim. For the ladies, if you prefer no nail polish, shorter nails, or no gel nails, just have things clipped, trim and neat. Showing up with chipped nails, or layers of nail polish on top of each other, or polish that’s worn off and chipped in places, is a look you should avoid for interviews. Your hands show you off as much as your face, and nails undone can make you self-conscious. If you’re a guy and you come to the interview with over-grown claws, it’s just a little creepy and looks wrong, even if you barely notice, others will. Here are some nail tips and trends for ladies and gentlemen that will make you show your hands instead of hiding them.

Footwear goes far. The little things matter, and clean and polished footwear goes a long way. People will always notice your shoes for good or for bad. So, again, it’s not about the expense of the thing but how kempt you appear overall. Scuffed or worn shoes are usually easy to improve with some shoe polish or a basic detailing. Take the time to take care of your shoes for the once over. Here are some tips for shoe care you can use to buff old into (passably) new again.

A nice tie makes a statement. A nice tie is always a nice way to go. This could be something you find on sale, but with most ties not costing more than $100 or so, you can find new styles in multiple fabric types that can complete your look and make an older shirt look new again. Learn how to tie it properly and you’ll impress. Here’s a link to some tie trends you might like for 2020.

Blazers help. Blazers are magic as they not only finish your look off, but they help deflect people looking too closely at other aspects of your outfit. A new blazer can make an old shirt or blouse seem new again, and can make a pair of casual trousers or jeans look sophisticated. There are tons of great deals online for women’s and men’s blazers, and it’s one of the things in a thrift store you’re likely to find. What goes for blazers also goes for jackets and overcoats.

Job searching on a budget isn’t as hard as it seems. And you shouldn’t feel any shame if you don’t show up in $3,000 worth of clothing, makeup and hair. How you appear to others is probably more important than you think. But cleaning up for that next interview is pretty important. How you look might be as important as what you say.

Keep up with interesting videos and articles every week. Become a magazine subscriber.