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I'm currently a student who will be starting out in a position where business attire is almost a given. The thing is that saving up for suits, a change of shirts and dress shoes seems very hard on the thin margin I'm living at right now. Do you have any tips beyond buying everything second hand, because I'm afraid it'll show and cost me interviews? My time frame is at least six months.

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    This question might get a better response at The Workplace.
    – Ben Miller
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 22:17
  • In what country do you reside, if the US what state?
    – Pete B.
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:01
  • @PeteBelford I live in Sweden, hope that paints a clearer picture.
    – pimmen
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:09
  • For me, not at all. Here in the US we have some great discount stores where one can shop for a fraction of the cost of a major retailers. I am sorry but I have no perspective on shopping in any part of Europe as I have never been there.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:41

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While in the interview stage you need one good outfit. Take care of them and they will see you through this stage of the process. Shoes, ties, shirt, and a suit can all be purchased on sale. The fact that you have months before graduation give you time to purchase them when there is a sale.

Off-the-rack is good enough for a suit for this stage of your life. There is no need to go custom made when you are just starting out. In fact you may find you never need more than one or two suits, and they never need to be custom made.

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    Also, during the interview, or as soon as you start work , ask what the real requirements are. A good quality pair of chinos, a decent button down shirt, respectable shoes, and maybe a sports coat or blazer will be formal enough for most jobs these days.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 7:00
  • Also, keep in mind that at a lot of places like Joseph A Bank they will claim there is a sale 52 weeks of the year. Be weary of this.
    – greggle138
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 20:50
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Like the other answers, I'm not entirely sure the equivalent exists in your country. But in the US there are thrift stores run by charities like GoodWill or the Salvation Army that sell clothes for very little money.

When my wife was in a similar situation very early in her career she learned the trick of driving to thrift stores nearest to the richest neighborhoods in town. She often found high dollar designer clothes that had been worn once (to an event or party) and then donated. Apparently it is quite gauche for the well-to-do to be caught dead in the same outfit twice. It wasn't uncommon for her to find clothes/shoes that retailed for hundreds of dollars for $10 or so.

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Sounds like you're a man, so you're in luck. Our formalwear all looks similar enough that you can get by on a very short rotation. You can buy 1 pair of decent slacks in a versatile color like navy or grey with a pair of brown shoes with matching belt then have as little as 2 button down shirts (white and light blue). You can help keep the button downs clean by wearing an undershirt.

This outfit can even overlap your interview outfit if you want to save more (especially if you want a good jacket/sport coat). The real key is to just not pick anything flashy and nobody will ever notice. You'll be running to the dry cleaners every single weekend, but you won't have much in terms of up-front costs.

For women though I have no clue how they manage this stuff.

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