Monday, September 14, 2009

You don't have to spend a million bucks to look the part

One of the more common problems I see on resume tapes of young people is, and I hate to say it, incredibly bad taste in clothes. (And I'm not just talking about the gals from New York who haven't gotten the memo that we broadcast in living color.)

Often the wardrobes are obviously leftovers from college. And who can blame you guys? You're saddled with college loans, then you get your first job and it pays bupkes. You don't have the cash to buy a few two hundred dollar outfits or five hundred dollar suits.

The crux of the problems is that many of you grew up before the recession during which your parents did not use the word "no" so you have no idea how to shop for a bargain. And in many cases, the bargains look just as good as the stuff you'd get in a high end store.

We have a chain of salvage shops here and I always find it an adventure to comb through them. You never know what you'll find. One time the store was loaded with water damaged Philadelphia Eagles gear. Another time I found tons of stuff from a hardware store.

Many years ago I wandered in and was hit with the stench of smoke. Yep, smoke damaged clothes from a high end New York department store. The sign read "Any article of clothing, one dollar." I started digging and found a horribly wrinkled, smoky Halston suit. I held my nose and tried it on. It fit perfectly. I paid two bucks (the pants were extra), paid a dry cleaner ten bucks to get the smoke out and I had a five hundred dollar suit which hangs in my closet to this day. Classic stuff never wears out or goes out of style. (Easier for men than women, of course.)

But you can't always stumble on bargains like that one. So you learn to shop the discounts and closeout stores. The thing to remember is that sometimes inexpensive stuff looks just as good on camera as the top of the line stuff. And remember, if you're an anchor you usually just need to look good above the waist. Places like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx often have terrific bargains, and just about every market has stores like these where you can get an expensive look for a little money. Sometimes a woman just needs a little color in the wardrobe, and a ten dollar silk top can work wonders for what might have been a boring blue suit. Sometimes a guy needs some crisp new shirts, and ten bucks can do the trick there as well.

I've also got a client who swears the best bargains are on ebay. Of course, you can't try the stuff on, so it's a bit risky.

I've often heard the excuse from small market people who look a little sloppy that, "This is the way people dress here." Sorry, you have to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. You wanna get to a big market, you have to look the part. But no one says you have to go broke doing it.

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