How to Dress Professionally On a Budget
I'm a junior at North Central University studying Entrepreneurship with a minor in Accounting & Finance. I am on the Enactus Board as the Project Manager and I am stoked to work with you! I have a heart for all things holistic, sustainable, and ethical. An easy way to spot me on campus is by looking for the girl who is always overdressed.
Whether you’re in your first few days or your fourth year of college, you are among the thousands living that broke college life. However, as a business student you are required to attend events such as business chapel and the social mixer (September 7 at US Bank Stadium) and are expected to dress to impress. For those of you who are not business students, this is still relevant for job interviews, internships, and etc! But, with empty pockets, how do you afford the style that will (hopefully) land you your dream job?
My philosophy? Thrifting.
As a freshman, I was overwhelmed by the business world and thus ended up making some major fashion no no's and spending way too much money. Overtime, though, I got the swing of things with help from my dear friends Unique and Goodwill. Thrifting will become your best friend, if you let it.
Walking into a Goodwill or Unique (local thrift store chains of gold) may seem daunting. However, I can promise you, if you dive into the endless racks, your friendship with second-hand will be one that will last a lifetime. Practically speaking, I like to have:
1 pair of pants for those shave-free days
3 blazers of different colors/patterns
a few blouses or button downs for good measure
You do not need to follow this guide, but promise me you will own more than one business professional outfit - it’s not hard to spot a repeated outfit when worn over and over again.
So, here’s the scoop. Both Goodwill and Unique are chains. However, I am a firm believer that not all are the same.
Listed below are my favorite locations:
Goodwill - 3575 MN-100, St Louis Park, MN 55416
Unique - 2201 37th Ave NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421
Best of luck on your thrifting journey!
NCU Enactus, Project Manager
Hey there! I’m Isaac.
I’m a junior Marketing major with a passion to see others grow and flourish. Being on the Enactus board as the Marketing Director is such an honor. Both of my sisters graduated from North Central before me, each of them excelling in and outside of their studies. Being the youngest, I have the opportunity to show my ambition and learn from the best.
As a college student, finances can be one of the most difficult things to navigate. When it comes to apparel, my rule of thumb for men is to try and buy 1 dress shirt each month. A few of my go to’s are GAP, Banana Republic, Nordstrom Rack, and Goodwill. Most of my business wardrobe is a combination of mock necks, button downs, or slacks. I have found plenty of reasonably priced button downs from Gap and Banana Republic. Often times, they look higher end than they actually are.
If you haven’t noticed, our Enactus team is incredibly ethically conscious. While I am totally okay with buying a shirt or two from GAP every once and awhile, I would first recommend going to thrift stores like Goodwill/Savers. You may be surprised with what you find.
Honestly, at the end of the day, it comes down to making most of what you have while representing who you are well. I can’t tell you how many days I just don’t know what to wear, whether it’s to an informational interview or business chapel. I have found myself to be a classy, casual creative. For me, that looks like a lot of denim (sometimes too much), a few nice pairs of boots, and plenty of sweaters/button downs.
For those of you who are transferring or changing your major a few years into your undergrad, I just became a Marketing major this past Spring. Going into my junior year of college, I felt like I was behind the curve. These people have two years on me! My wardrobe had to become a bit nicer in order to represent myself well. Unfortunately, I spent too much money at first.
Men, to start your year with options and learn from my mistakes, I would recommend having:
- 3 pairs of dress pants
5 dress shirts/sweaters
a few pairs of shoes to alternate between
One last piece of advice, create a budget and Stick. To. It!
Thanks for reading!
NCU Enactus, Marketing Director