How to dress professionally on a student budget

What to wear as a student to look professional on a student budget

Rolling into class in your workout clothes is fine, but showing up to an interview in ripped jeans? Not OK. You’re probably not in a financial position to buy a whole new interview wardrobe, so we’ve put together a guide for what to do when you have high-cost taste on a student budget. Yes, you might still have to spend some of your hard-earned cash. But it’ll be totally worth it when you ace the interview.  

Go closet shopping

Start asking around to see if anyone you know has a piece that might work for you. Try your parents, an older relative or friend. Lots of people hold on to clothing they don’t wear anymore, or that no longer fits. Jog their memory and ask them to check their closet for a blazer or slacks they haven’t worn in six months or more. Their closet space-stealer, your treasure.

Thrift shop style

You’re not going to spend $50 for a T-shirt. Check out local thrift stores in the area for clothes that have been donated. You’ll have to do some digging, but if you find a hidden treasure, it’ll be totally worth it. Here are a few secrets on how to be a better second-hand shopper so you can get the most for your money.

Deals, deals, deals

Start saying yes when cashiers ask you for your email address. Then actually check your promotional emails — lots of great deals are hiding in there. Keep your eye on the calendar, too. Many retail stores offer special discounts certain times of the year, like Black Friday or Memorial Day.


If you have the basics — top, blazer, pants or skirt and maybe a tie — but don’t feel like you have the right look, accessorize. A nice watch or fun necklace could add the style you’re looking for. Low-cost jewelry can be found in a number of places. Just be careful to use it only for interviews so you aren’t stuck re-purchasing something that broke on a night out.

Be an outfit repeater

Now here’s the real trick. Find the makings for two great outfits. Then every time you interview, rotate between the outfits. Your second getup is for when you get a round two meeting. It won’t make for the most exciting Instas, but it will keep you looking fresh for hiring managers and could help you get the job.

Now that you know where to look, learn about interview attire basics for men and women. Remember, these aren’t hard and fast rules (feel free to ignore the gendered guidelines). What you wear depends a lot on industry, position and what you feel comfortable in. Let us know if you have any other tips, and share your student-budget professional looks with us on Instagram by tagging @asuadulting101.  

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ASU’s chatbot, Sunny, has been helping students get adjusted to college life for a few years now. The questions from students year after year, rarely change. Sometimes it helps to see what other students are asking to stay informed and realize you aren’t the only one trying to figure it all out.

Welcome to the Hey Sunny blog – a library of advice for students from Sunny and the team supporting the bot.

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