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Revamping your wardrobe for a new job

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Dress for success

In today's economy, many women can't afford to invest in a new wardrobe for the interview process. However, with competition for jobs at a fast and furious pace, being able to put our best foot forward is more important than ever. Here are some tips for updating your wardrobe for a new job.

Proud Businesswoman

Making that happen can be as simple as finding one great accent piece that can make you "pop the basics" and stand out in a crowd. Kim Wilson, director of HR consulting and recruiting at the University of Richmond, encourages women to dig into their closets and update those classic essentials with a bit of color or an accent look. "You want to show off your great personality and smile. That's what gets your foot in the door," she said.

Study Your Closet

Do an inventory of your suits, separates, blouses, scarves, shoes, etc. Make any needed repairs that will not cost an arm and a leg and can be done immediately, such as reinforcing seams or putting new taps on heels ($1)! First impressions are critical.

Learn to Mix and Match

You can blend separates with loose blazers or sweater sets, which will give you a polished look. Pop your wardrobe with color by adding in a fun sweater set or blouse with jewel tones like aqua, magenta or plum.

Remember the Details

Great accessories, such as a multi-strand of pearls, can refresh any seasoned suit or separate ensemble. Shoes are super hot this spring, with all ranges of textures and heel sizes. A basic black pump always works, but instead of plain leather, think patent leather, which can be very reasonably priced and in a wide array of colors. Remember not to over-accessorize -- too much is always a fashion frown! Grab the latest fashion magazines or surf the web to identify the latest trends for this spring. Always be confident!

Go for the Classics

They never go out of style. A basic navy jacket, skirt and clean shoes and simple earrings are non-offensive to anyone. A solid navy or olive suit with a clean, crisp white shirt also works beautifully. You can jazz these things up later with heels, jewelry or wild ties, after you land the job, to reflect your personality. Also, for ladies, you can't beat a black skirt and white blouse with simple pearl studs.

Find Bargains

It's actually very easy to find designer suits, skirts, pants and jackets at way below cost at a Ross or Marshall's. These are very well-made and will last for years. If you are interviewing, invest in 2 to 3 suits and several shirts/blouses and a good pair of black and brown shoes. You can mix and match, and continue building your wardrobe upon these basics when you are working. Everyone should have a staple of khaki or camel pants and/or skirt, black skirt/pants, 3 to 4 blouses/shirts that go with those, and a couple of coordinating jackets.

Swap before you Shop

Take a long look at your wardrobe, including clothes from previous jobs. On average, we don't wear 25 percent of the clothes in our closets, which leaves you with significant swapping ammo. You can organize a swap party with local friends and encourage they bring office attire they no longer wear. Have a friend who recently quit her 9-to-5 job to teach pre-school? Hit her up for some job-appropriate clothing. If you're strapped for time, thredUP allows you to swap clothes from the comfort of your own home.

Earn Cash

Once you've exhausted swappable resources, head out into the "real world" with your frugal helmet intact. Consignment, thrift and resale shops are great for finding discounted gems perfect for your new gig. Spend time sorting through racks and be sure to ask when new inventory is displayed so you can get first pick!

Invest in the Extras

Rather than buying new outfits, spend less money updating your wardrobe with accessories. Scarves, belts, necklaces and hats can all refresh your look and your mentality for day one. Head to inexpensive accessory stores to change up your style year to year.

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