Dressing Like a Million Bucks (When You Don’t Have It)

I’ve grown much less attached to the idea of variety in my wardrobe – these days, comfort and functionality are the name of the game. However, there are special occasions where the basic t-shirt and jeans combo is absolutely not appropriate. Cue serious frustration.

Because anything even remotely appropriate for interviews, banquets, and formal meetings gets pricey fast. A simple suit can cost upwards of $200 without anyone blinking an eye. No, thank you.

So if you’re willing to take a chance on a slightly different technique for scoring a few great pieces for your fancy affairs, take my advice – don’t buy retail. In many cases, it’s best to even shy away from the clearance rack. My advice? Ebay.

First, find out the exact size and style of clothing you’re interested in. For me, I wanted a complete suit and a little black dress from Express, which was easy to scope out. I tried on a few styles and found the perfect cut, and then bee-lined out of the store (okay, fine, I checked the clearance rack first – guilty).

Express Outfit

My blazer and little black dress wins from Ebay

I was able to search around on Ebay for the style I had in mind and after doing a bit of research on the seller, the listing, and the items, I started bidding away. I ended up with 2 blazers,  2 pairs of pants, and even my first awesome LBD for roughly $70. (I’m guessing it would have all cost me somewhere around $450 had I purchased them in-store).

If you’ve got an interview or formal event coming up and don’t want to scavenge through thrift store racks to find a suitable outfit, definitely check out any live auctions or Buy It Now items on Ebay. Here’s some tips for success:

  • Buy early. Consider the length of time between when the auction ends and your event – will it arrive on time? It’s best to invest in a good go-to formal outfit well before it’s needed so that you don’t end up spending more than you need to.
  • Trust the seller. You can check out each seller’s history and ratings easily on Ebay. I usually stick with people who’ve clearly been selling for a while and have nearly perfect ratings, just to be sure.
  • Know the item – has it been altered or are there imperfections that are just too glaring? It’s not uncommon to find items that are still new with tags (NWT) or new without tags (NWOT), so keep an eye out for that.
  • If the items are not new, get used to the idea of wearing used clothing. It’s definitely a change from wearing all-new items, but there’s no cooties a good wash or dry clean can’t get rid of. Know that the items may have some imperceptible flaws, but those cases are where you get the best deals!

As a final note, it’s a good idea to invest in more neutral essentials so that you can carry them over from interview to formal banquet to classy wedding. Multi-purposing is key with these clothes!


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