Monday, 11 February 2013

What to wear to an interview or new office job when you have no money.

I have often been asked by readers to point them in the right direction regarding a small and inexpensive capsule wardrobe when embarking on a new office job or attending an interview, and when suddenly my daughter found herself faced with the exact same dilemma last week when she got offered her first interview since graduating last summer and then subsequently landed the job, all hell broke lose with the "what am I going to wear" cries from her bedroom!  Well if I'm your Mum, its simple!

As the country falls into its treble dip recession and everybody seems to be on a budget of sorts, this doesn't just apply to students who have spent the last three years in jeans during the day and heels and skimpy dresses for partying.  You could be changing jobs which means you will have interviews to attend or perhaps you are going from a smartly dressed work environment to a more casual one or vice versa.  Whatever your circumstance you need clothes that will work hard for their money and work for various occasions, dress up and dress down according to your lifestyle.

The most important thing is, if attending an interview you have to bear in mind that you may not actually get the job and therefore may not wish to spend a lot of money on an interview outfit, or indeed have a lot of money to spend.  Think about what you already have that could be useful, identify what is missing, think about pieces you may be able to borrow from a friend who is the same size and only then think about spending money on one or two pieces that can pull your look together but will be useful to wear at other times.

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The Interview outfit.

I find that most young women don't want to overdress and at interview stage won't have a clue about the office dress code of the job they are applying for, so my advice is smart separates or separates that you didn't think were smart until you started to put an outfit together.  Here Courtenay has worn an old blouse and scarf, black jacket borrowed from a friend and went to New Look and bought the black pull on tube skirt which could easily be worn for evenings out with a pretty top and cost just £9. I think that you can see that it is the blazer that pulls the whole look together and makes it look smart enough.

Then she got the job......

She was eager to spend some money on a few new bits by way of celebrating her achievement but the budget was tiny.  She suggested New Look kids as she can fit into range even though she is 5ft 5 but being a size 6 (have I told you I hate her really?) I suggested having a look at Dorothy Perkins as not only are their reductions really good when they only have either tiny or big sizes left,  but they were offering 25% student discount at the time, which was enough of a percentage to really make a difference.  She choose 2 peplum tops, 1 navy and 1 black, a dogtooth check blouse, some smart grey trousers, a dress and a gorgeous jacket that I would buy immediately if only they had my size (now sold out) and all for under £49 which included the £2 delivery to our nearest store.

Here are her six new pieces........

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Buy Dress here.

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The peplum tops and blouse could all be worn out at night with either skirts or jeans and heels. Add a statement necklace to bring the plain tops to life.  The dress is also great for evenings and the last outfit of new blouse, jacket and trousers would be perfectly fine if she was meeting friends for lunch on a Saturday with either long black riding boots or ballet flats depending on the weather, but is smart enough to wear with black loafers for work, so all dual purpose pieces.

Then I went through her wardrobe to show her how to create some different looks smart enough for the office but using things she has had in her wardrobe for ages and rarely wears. I put four looks together and could have gone on but I was getting back ache laying them out on the floor but I think she has got the idea!


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Everything here is old except the newly bought top.



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Everything here is old except the skirt she bought for the interview.

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The old blouse she wore for her interview with the new skirt and jacket and finished off with an old scarf.

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Here is the interview blouse again layered underneath an old H&M navy crew neck jumper with the new trousers and old leopard print brogues.

You don't need to have landed a new job to do this, just take a fresh look at what you have, do a bit of mixing and matching, just adding a different coloured scarf and some brightly coloured shoes can make the same outfit look completely different and it is also a great way to help you get dressed in the morning by putting together your outfits for the week ahead on a Sunday night! If you want to get really anal about it, you could lay your outfits out, take photo's of them, print them off and stick them on the inside of your wardrobe doors, but don't tell anyone I suggested that!

Have you ever found yourself lost when dressing for an interview? Do you have a strategy for mix and match dressing for the office, by buying clothes that work for various occasions?


22 comments:

  1. Fab post - all these outfits look amazingly stylish and smart. Think you may be the new Gok Wan!!!

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  2. Love this!! Love that jacket she has on!! xxxxx

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    1. I so would have bought that Jacket if they had it in my size!

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  3. That is brilliant - you are definitely styling me when I go back to work - whenever and whatever that may be. Sometimes, it just takes a bit of imagination but it can be quite daunting trying to put office/work looks together when your previous lifestyle has what initially appears to be a very different wardrobe. But it's all pulled together beautifully. Love it.

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    1. I love the way you dress so really take that as a compliment. You certainly know how to do yummy mummy! I am better at dressing others than myself!

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  4. It's so important to not only have a smart interview outfit but one that feels comfortable and makes you feel confident. A bonus if it can be worn again for another occasion.
    http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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  5. Great post - I am returning to work .... arrrgh! Getting nervous now. Will definitely be rethinking my wardrobe over the next few weeks! X

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  6. Hi there!! Courtenay looks really lovely in these outfits, it's definitely how you style new pieces with your existing wardrobe that is key and you've definitely given some really sound and useful styling tips here. Wishing her well in her new job too xxx

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  7. Great post Sharron...she looks lovely in all the outfits:) Best of luck to her in the new job!
    ~Anne xx

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  8. Well done to your daughter for getting the job...no mean feat these days. A great working wardrobe too. I think it's all too easy to stick to a plain jacket, skirt, trouser combo. nice to see print dresses in there too! x

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  9. Lovely styling tips from you and great outfits. She's so lucky to have you. Those zip pocket trousers are fab on her - jealous! she has such a great young figure!

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    1. Yes those trousers are really nice aren't they, love the zip feature x

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  10. Your daughter looks gorgeous .. size 6?? Oh I vaguely remember the days! She is truly lucky to have you help her with styling. Wish you'd come and sort out my wardrobe some day. Great post :)

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    1. Just let me know when, it is one of my favourite things to do!

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  11. Great ideas Sharron. Congrats to your daughter in her new job. Its so good to see mum and daughter working together. I have a great relationship with my daughter too xx

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  12. Great post Sharron, and well done to your daughter I bet she's chuffed! I find work wear really easy but just hate spending money on stuff I only wear to work so have incorporated more of my casual wardrobe into my work stuff and more work stuff into my casual wardrobe, it takes a bit of thought but ensures you get the wear out of everything.

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  13. I'm so glad I happened to catch this post this morning before I got ready for work. I've been in a rut lately and this post spurred me to walk into my closet this morning with my thinking cap on and put together an outfit that I felt great in and wasn't one of my "oh it's Monday, let me just throw this on" kind of a day!

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  14. thank you so much for this post - really chimed with me and would love to see more like this. Its hard not to fall into a rut with what you know works for work day in, day out. Interview clothing a really hard one to crack and your daughter looks fabulous - no wonder she landed the job!

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    1. Ah thank you! I do sometimes sort out other peoples wardrobes so will be sure to put a post up next time!

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  15. What a fantastic post! Your daughter looks amazing.

    I'd love to see a similar post on what to wear to a wedding. One of my oldest friends is getting married in May & obviously I want to look great but my budget is next to nothing. x

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    1. Do you have a dress you love that you could just buy new accessories for? I'd love to come and have a look!

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Let me know your thoughts, all comments are much appreciated, I know it takes time and effort xx