Building Up Your Business Attire on a Student Budget

6 Feb

Some of us have this to work with:



For the rest of us, here are a few tips.

A few years ago, former Durham Tech paralegal student and current rock star paralegal Scott Barrow-West gave a presentation to Durham Tech paralegal students that included a lot of good advice that came from experience. Two things stood out: get certified to stand out among job applicants, and start working on your professional attire early so you won’t have to spend money all at once.

At the Lunch and Learn session on February 5th, similar advice came through: it’s important to dress for success, understanding the different between professional attire and “business casual”. You can find some tips here and here.

How can you re-tool your wardrobe when you’re on a student budget? First, consider Scott Barrow-West’s advice of slowly building up your wardrobe before you graduate–a blazer here, some shoes there, a couple dress shirts or blouses as they go on sale. That way, you’re not dumping a lot of your money into a wardrobe all at once, or before you’ve got the lay of the land in terms of dress code at your new firm.

If sale prices still aren’t putting a week’s worth of business attire in reach, take a hint from Macklemore and visit your local thrift shop.

In the Triangle area, there are quite a few, but two stand out in terms of selection or the chance you’ll hit the mother lode of new, tagged clothes that were donated.

Cause for Paws – A solid inventory of men’s and ladies business attire, plus outerwear. Also a good selection of plus sizes for men and women. Check out the location at 1634 S. Saunders St. in Raleigh. They’re open at that location 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and  10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They frequently run student discount specials.

Goodwill – The Kilmayne store has women’s clothes organized by color, and it’s not unusual to find new clothes with the tags still on them–including high end designer clothing. You can find this store at 220 Kilmayne Dr in Cary. Their website says their hours are Store hours are 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and Noon – 6 p.m. Sunday

There are plenty of thrift shops located in the Triangle; make a scouting run and see which ones have the kinds of clothes in the size you need. The Paralegal Technology Class of 2013 regularly exchanged thrift shop tips–like which shops seem to have a good supply of nice threads. Ask your friends about a good tailor so you can turn some bargain slacks into something sharp. Sharing this information is another form of networking to help each other get ready for interviews and the first month on the job.

Do you have the clothes but your glasses need updating? Take advantage of Durham Tech’s Optical Shop, located in White 51. They have “Starving Student” specials that start at $50 for a complete set of glasses, and many of these are name-brand frames. You’ll need to have a current prescription.

Got ideas? Exchange them at the next Paralegal Club meeting.

%d bloggers like this: