Dress for Success on the Cheap
It has been said that this is the worst time to obtain employment as an attorney in recorded history. The natural question that arises from such a predicament reminds me of this timeless exchange:
Champ: “What are we gonna do?”
Ron: “There’s only one thing a man can do when he’s suffering from a spiritual and existential funk.”
Champ: “Go to the zoo, flip off the monkeys?”
Ron: “No, buy new suits.”
Hey, you gotta look good while going to those interviews, don’t you? Projecting a serious image on a tight budget can be difficult, and doing so is of the utmost importance if you want to land a job ahead of the next guy. So here are just a few tips to help you dress for success and on the cheap:
Find a Good Tailor
A well-tailored suit is the key to projecting a confident, professional image. A good tailor will have people thinking your $250 outlet store suit is straight from Polo Black Label. Have him (or her) take proper measurements, and when the time comes, take your newly purchased suit in for alterations. All suits need altering. It is just a fact of life.
Stick to the classics
Remember, you are a lawyer, not an investment banker. No raspberry pinstripes, please. Keep it simple. A young lawyer can get away with three, maybe even two well-tailored suits. You can never go wrong with navy and a darker grey. Throw in a khaki suit for the warmer months if your budget allows.
Ties and shirts for variety
Marshalls has incredible deals on namebrand ties and dress shirts for as little as $12. Believe me, I have a couple $90 ties (gifts), and I can’t tell the difference, and neither can anyone else. Three white shirts with a couple light and dark blue thrown in for good measure should provide plenty of variety. If you have a fairly tapered waist (the “V” shape), buy an “athletic” cut shirt, otherwise you will look ridiculous. Spend a little more on wrinkle-free shirts that can be thrown into the washing machine 4 or 5 times before having to be dry cleaned. You will find that the lower dry cleaning bill will completely offset the upfront expense.
One black pair and one brown pair of shoes are all you need. Great deals on shoes can be found at outlet malls. Zappos is a great place to find solid deals on both men’s and women’s dress shoes. You don’t have to spend $100 per shoe either. I have a pair of $60 black dress shoes that have lasted me 5 years.
If you want to keep it casual and comfortable you may even consider picking up a pair of mens loafers.
Save the pimp suit for Halloween
If the shoulder pads are protruding beyond your deltoids, it is too big. Shoulders are one of the most difficult places for a tailor to alter, so make sure the jacket fits snugly in the shoulders. On that same note, do not stray any further than an inch or two on pants length or waist. The jacket should be easy to button across the chest, but not so easy that people think you have been raiding William “The Refrigerator” Perry’s closet.
Do not break the bank on a $100 belt. A good belt can be had from any outlet mall or department store for as little as $15. One black and one brown belt are sufficient. Don’t go for the two-in-one transformer belts. They do not last.
A suit does not need to be dry cleaned every week. Neither do your shirts. In fact, a suit should not be dry cleaned more than a few times per year. Wearing proper undergarments will prevent your bodily funk from infiltrating your wardrobe. Dry clean your slacks and jacket at the same time. Cloth fades just a little bit every time you dry clean it, so by taking both pieces simultaneously, they will hopefully fade uniformly.