Research has proven that many interviewers make a hiring decision within a few minutes of meeting a candidate. The majority of young people don’t have thousands of rands to blow on fancy clothes, but you can make a good first impression just as effectively on a small budget.

Here’s how to dress for success without having to empty your wallet:

Shop at budget stores

Over the past few years, there has been a huge increase in the number of clothing stores offering good quality clothes at bargain prices. Often, the clothing you’ll find at shops such as Mr Price, Jet and H&M looks just as good as top-end clothing that costs double or triple the price. Keep an eye out for seasonal and end-of-line sales to save even more money.

Shop online

Online shopping has become a sensation, and there are a variety of websites that sell clothing at better prices than you’ll find at your local shopping mall. Spree, Zando and Superbalist are a few examples of these, stocking a massive range of clothing to fit every budget. These websites all run money-saving specials virtually every week. Having your clothes delivered straight to your doorstep will also save you a petrol-guzzling trip to the mall.

Look for second-hand clothes

Just because other people don’t want their clothes anymore, it doesn’t mean that those clothes won’t be perfect for you.  Often, the very best bargains can be found at car boot sales and second-hand clothing stores, where you can pick up items in good condition for barely more than a handful of change. Getting hand-me-downs from siblings and friends can also net you a professional-looking outfit completely for free.

Some tips for dressing for success:

Whether it’s to impress a potential employer or to maintain a professional look in a formal office environment, you can follow these tips to dress for success:


Woman in formal business attire

  • Keep your outfit fairly conservative. Look for a pair of women’s trousers or a knee-length skirt, a single-breasted blazer in classic colours such as black or charcoal, and a white button-up shirt.
  • Avoid low necklines and transparent or tight-fitting clothing. Your shoulders should also be covered.
  • Buy yourself a pair of mid-length heels or polished flat shoes, and a handbag to complement your outfit. Grey and black colours work well all year round, but beige and pastels can also be worn for summer.
  • Accessorise with simple, classic jewellery that won’t go out of style.
  • Wear clear nail polish and natural-looking makeup. Keep your use of perfume subtle.
  • Keep your hair naturally coloured and neat.


Formal business clothing for men

  • Choose a matching suit in black, navy or grey. Pair it with a white or light blue shirt. If you decide to wear a tie, keep it neutral in colour. Some jobs may require less formal outifts, but it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, especially for a job interview.
  • Learn how to do a half-Windsor knot for your tie. This knot will suit any occasion.
  • Wear black or brown leather or faux leather shoes, and keep them well-polished.
  • Choose a leather or faux leather belt that matches the colour of your shoes.
  • Wear dark, calf length socks that won’t expose your legs when you’re sitting down.
  • Go for a short haircut and shave your facial hair properly.
  • Keep jewellery to a minimum. A watch and a ring are fine, but avoid necklaces or piercings.
  • Avoid strong cologne.

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