Dress for Success: Building a Professional Wardrobe on a Budget

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers February 2014

Pharmacy school has prepared you for your first job and you feel confident in your future as a pharmacist. But is your wardrobe ready?

Pharmacy school has prepared you for your first job and you feel confident in your future as a pharmacist. But is your wardrobe ready?

Trading in your jeans and t-shirts for professional clothes can be a daunting task. And for recent graduates without much money to spare, the process may seem expensive and overwhelming.

Work With What You’ve Got: Before you buy any new clothes, raid your closet for any pieces that can be transformed into professional wear. Button-ups, cardigans, sweaters, or dress pants you already own can be worn to work. Depending on your pharmacy, polo shirts, skirts (not too short, please), and other tops and blouses you wear on a regular basis may also be appropriate. Pair basic items with more dressy ones to attain a polished look.

Search for Bargains: Shopping at outlet or resale stores can save you a ton of money. Search online for outlet and resale stores in your area and hit them up first before heading to more pricey department stores. If you still want to shop at a department store, pay close attention to special sales. Sacrificing your Saturday to brave the crowds could pay off.

Don’t Neglect Your Feet: Pharmacists spend much of the day on their feet, so investing in a sensible pair of shoes is important. It is smart to spend a little extra money on shoes that both look professional and are comfortable: they’ll need to support your feet all day long. Chose a neutral color; black is probably best since it will be able to match anything.

Pace Yourself: You don’t need to buy a new wardrobe all in a day. Instead, build your professional closet slowly, adding pieces as you find them, need them, or can afford them. As you spend more time working, you’ll also be better able to judge what is appropriate for your particular work environment and will avoid spending money on clothes that are too formal or too casual.

Additional Tips

Personalize Your Look: Dressing professionally doesn’t mean you have to completely sacrifice your personality. Use simple accessories, like jewelry, belts, scarves, and watches, to dress-up those basics and show your personality. Accessorize carefully; you still want to look professional and have your patients focused on you, not your statement necklace or loud tie.

Look for Versatility: When you start looking for professional pieces, you’ll want to find ones that can be mixed, matched, and used to create a variety of outfits for different occasions. This means sticking to mostly neutral colors and opting for professional basics like plain button-ups and slacks. If you bought a suit for interviews, the pieces can be broken up and used for separate outfits.

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