Getting a job

“Popping Some Tags”: Great Interview Clothes on a Budget!

Last year I had a student who told me that his uncle had given him a graduation present of an interview suit. I asked him if he had any idea how much the suit cost. I was shocked to find out that the suit cost $800.00!! I know that some of you might not be shocked by that number but I work with college students many of whom are low income and first generation and they could not afford such a cost for an interview outfit.

I help students all the time practice and plan for interviews. Finding an appropriate outfit is paramount to landing a job. Not only does it make you look good but people feel good and professional in clothing that fits well and looks the part. But how do you come up with this great professional outfit on a budget? My answer is second hand store shopping. Here’s why and a few hacks to make it easier:

Second Hand Store Shopping is Fun. When I walk into a second hand store I don’t know what I will find. It is like an adventure..will I find a cute pair of shoes or a bathing suit or maybe an interview suit? One must let go of attachment and that ever so present and current desire to have what we want, now!! It’s fun to be open to outcome and sometimes find the perfect dress for graduation or nothing at all.

I get better quality for my buck in second hand stores: If I were buying all my clothing new on a budget, I would probably have to limit myself to Ross given the cost of new clothes. Yes Ross does get some quality items but mostly one does not find high quality or designer clothing at discount clothing stores. Think again for second hand stores. I have found very high quality, designer clothing that people have decided to give away. Albeit in the last 10 years even prices at second hand stores have gone up, I can usually find clothing at at least a quarter of the original price. For example, on my lunch break today I found a great Calvin Klein suit just my size, fully lined for $20. I just found a very similar suit online for $149.99!!

Thrift Store Shopping is good for the community and good for the earth. Many second hand stores are non-profit organizations that give work to people who need it and/or give their profits to needy organizations. So, when you buy from second hand stores you are not only getting a cool, new to you thing, you are also making a donation to your community. Not only that, buying second hand is great for the earth. It is reusing and reusing is before recycling! When we buy new things we are not demanding new mining, new agriculture as well as shipping etc. When we buy used we are saying that there is enough to go around without producing new stuff.

Get to know your local second hand stores. Wherever you live, unless it has a population of 5, you probably have a local second hand store. The more upscale the neighborhood the better the possibility of high end fashion clothes. So, go in regularly as their stock probably changes daily. Ask when they have sales or if they have student discounts if you are a student. Many second hand stores use color tags and will rotate out certain colors on certain days. This is good information to know if you find something you like and it will be on sale the next day.

Try second hand store shopping when you travel I have found some of my best scores while traveling. Thrift shopping in San Francisco and New York are quite different from the ones in my medium sized town. Also, thrift stores specialize in clothing for the local climate so if you have not packed appropriately, you might find something just right for your evening outing.

Great, inexpensive second hand clothes can be gotten online.
Of course there is always Ebay, once exclusively second hand now it is necessary to search through the online shops to find real bargains. Don’t forget to read the description carefully and check the price of shipping. There are also exclusively second hand web sites like and, neither of which have I used. The benefit of these option is you don’t have to go anywhere and in these two cases you can sell your gently used clothing as well.

It may not satisfy your need for immediate gratification but as Macklemore so famously said in his song Thrift Shop “ I’m gonna pop some tags, Only got twenty dollars in my pocket, I’m hunting , looking for a come-up, This is @#%*@ awesome.”

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Joy Soll

Joy Soll works as a Career Advisor at Humboldt State University in the way northern part of California. There, she helps students find jobs/internships and apply to graduate school. She particularly enjoys her job because she gets to help diverse students find their dream experiences. When not doing this you can find her running on the beach with her dog, kayaking in the ocean or hanging out with her two teenage sons and husband.