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Your Image on a Budget

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Alaina R. Alexander and Bridgitte C. Nance

In college or art school your choice of clothing was reflective on the following three things: your mood, budget or failure to do your laundry on a regular basis. Those oversized butterfly sunglasses that made you a fashion hit with your classmates may give an altogether different impression on a potential employer/client.

When I graduated from college and began looking for work, I realized that I lacked suitable clothing for job interviews. Most of clothing was  either in need of repair or more appropriate for a social occasion. Unfortunately, I was on a strict budget that wouldn't allow me to spend a lot on a new wardrobe. I learned the value of  buying  simple clothing in basic colors. My wardrobe wasn't the most exciting, but I did look appropriate for the office and other business related events.

-Alaina Alexander

Generally, the creative arts industry offers a more relaxed clothing atmosphere than  a profession in the financial industry, however there are still limits to this. There are basics that everyone should have in their wardrobe whether they be a production assistant or creative services manager.

One of the biggest things that prevents us from seeking is to improve our wardrobe is lack of cash. However, building up a solid wardrobe does not have to be an expensive or time consuming undertaking. Ask yourself the following questions before building a new wardrobe:

Casual Friday rule:
It is a safe bet that Casual Friday at your office does not mean wearing the most ripped up jeans shirt in your wardrobe. If you are unsure err on the side of conservative by wearing khakis and a buttoned down shirt.

After business functions
The purpose of  after business functions are to social with co-workers and industry peers. These events are not the time to show off your feather boa and pleather ensemble. If after hours business functions cramp your style. Make an appearance for 90 minutes and then go home and change into your club wear.

Ladies: You need at two semi- formal dresses in your closet. Preferably they are black , maroon or midnight blue. One of the dresses is for the Fall/Winter season and the other is for Spring/Summer. A black velvet blazer makes a great cover up in colder weather. During the warmer months, a satiny wrap works well. If you are really strapped for cash a long black velvet or satin skirt with a glittery long or short sleeved top works at many after hours functions. Just make sure you arenít exposing a lot of leg  or cleavage.  Black  velvet or satin palazzo pants  can also be used as semi-formal wear.

Gentlemen: A black or dark suit generally works well for most occasions. At the very least khaki pants shirt and tie with a navy blue blazer can go to many after hours business functions. Invest in at least three nice ties.

Casual  or daytime events business events
For more casual daytime events khakis and a long sleeved buttoned down shirt or a sweater. Even though these events are more casual  your clothing should be clean and pressed. Halter tops and cutoff jeans won't cut it at the company barbeque. Investigate the dress code of the establishment if your business event centers around activities such as: golf or tennis.


Tips to look professional on any budget

1. Get your measurements taken by a professional tailor or seamstress
2. Check thrift stores for tailored navy blue blazers
3. Purchase your wardrobe at the end of the season. (aka buying your winter coat in July)
4. Stick to basic neutral colors and simple styles
5. Hold a clothing exchange with friends
6. Shop for semi-formal wear right after prom season in late May
7. Browse for professional wear at expensive department stores and then buy the knockoffs at discount stores
8. Avoid filling your wardrobe with a lot of dry clean only items
9. Retire worn out and or damaged clothing
10. Try on each item clothing before purchasing it
11. Examine clothing carefully for rips, stains and snags.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Clothes for Production and Office wear