The Hunt for Budget-Friendly Interview Suits

budget friendly interview suits for womenSure, we all know what work wardrobe essentials professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have. Today: we’re hunting for budget-friendly interview suits for women!

Obviously, we cover a Suit of the Week every week, and we have our regularly updated Guide to Interview Suits as well as our recent overview of brands of suits for women for every budget— but we haven’t specifically looked for budget-friendly interview suits in a few years, so let’s round them up! (Here’s our last discussion on cheap interview suits, as well as our discussion of whether you can mix black separates to make a suit (noooooooo!).  In general, if you’re hunting for an interview suit, keep an eye out for options with a) suiting separates b) available in a solid, dark, neutral color, c) that fit your budget. By buying suiting separates you can get a better fit off the rack (such as by buying a size 10 pant and a size 12 blazer, and maybe even a petite skirt even if everything else is a regular size) — and you can make several outfits, particularly if there are two blazers, such as one that’s collarless and one that’s the traditional lapel+button. (If you have problems finding suits in your size range, check our Guide to Plus Size Suits, Tall Suits, Petite Suits, and Maternity Suits!) Readers, which are your favorite budget-friendly interview suits? 

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Budget-Friendly Interview Suits for Women: J.Crew FactoryHat tip to the commenters, who noted that J.Crew Factory has lightweight wool suiting — I don’t think I knew that before! They have two-button suits, skirts, dresses with pockets, and trousers for $49-$75 per piece; they also have cotton suiting. Everything comes in sizes 0-20, in regular and petite sizes. (There are pros and cons to factory stores — if you happen to like them, note that Banana Republic Factory also has some great suiting options!) Pictured.
Budget-Friendly Interview Suits for Women: T TahariSo many of my first suits were from T Tahari — so I’m happy to see that they now come in separates. Bloomingdale’s has the widest selection currently, with tons of different styles of pants, skirts, dresses and blazers coming in black and navy. Prices range from $51-$118 right now. Pictured.
Affordable Interview Suits for Women: TalbotsIf you need a larger size range by way of petites, pluses, or plus-size petites, Talbots is your go-to — a LOT of readers love this suiting. Their seasonless wool suiting is what you want to look at — and if it’s too boxy for you off the rack, do consider getting your suit tailored. (Here’s our guide to suiting alterations to consider!) At full price, pieces are $129-$229 — but there are often sales. (As of this writing the range is $53-$119, plus extra discounts if you buy 2+ items and/or use a Talbots credit card.)
Budget-Friendly Interview Suits for Women Lawyers: Anne KleinThese Anne Klein separates (available at Nordstrom and Macy’s) are great basic interview suits if you’re on a budget — it doesn’t get more classic than this. As a curvy girl I’ve often liked the fit for Anne Klein better than Calvin Klein, which has more of a straight fit. The price point is generally $69-$119 per piece. Macy’s has a ton of similar options from similar brands that offer separates like Kasper, T Tahari, and Calvin Klein. Pictured.
Budget-Friendly Interview Suits for Women: ExpressI hesitate to recommend Express suiting, even for budget-friendly interview suits, because I tend to associate it with looks that are often too tight and too curve-hugging — but if you know that going in you can be wary when picking out a suit. A major con to budget-friendly suit separates is that the pants can often feel frumpy (one of the reasons skirt suits can be easier!) so it’s a major pro that Express blazers pair with their Editor and Columnist pants, loved by readers and on our list of great washable pants for work. Right now prices range from $79-$128. Pictured.
Budget-Friendly Interview Suits for Women: Ann TaylorAnn Taylor, J.Crew, and Banana Republic are final options to consider if you’re on the hunt for budget-friendly interview suits for women — they can feel a bit pricier, but are great first suits if you like the fit. For Ann Taylor, look for the seasonless suiting or the all-season stretch — both will be great basics to take you from interviews to the first days on the job. Prices range from $98-$140 at Ann Taylor (with lots of different options for the fit of pants, as well as petite and tall sizes up to size 18). Meanwhile, over at J.Crew, note that they seem to be phasing out their longstanding suiting collection of Super 120s wool in favor of “Italian stretch wool” — do any readers care to give a report on the new stretch wool? (There are some crazy deals on lucky sizes on the older Super 120s inventory, fyi!) Prices on the Italian stretch wool collection range from $99-$248 plus, of course, any additional J.Crew sales.  Another big option in this price range (and with tons of sales): Banana Republic! Their lightweight wool collection ranges from $98-$198, not including any BR discount of the day. Pictured.

Readers, what are your favorite styles and brands for affordable interview suits? What stores am I missing – have you found great budget-friendly interview suit at ASOS, Zara, Lord & Taylor, or any other stores? What do you look for in a suit for interviews? 

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Like this feature? Check out other recent installments, as well as our collection of best-selling styles in our Guide to Wardrobe Essentials for Work!

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Budget-friendly interview suits -- do they exist? Are there any interview suits for women that are stylish AND affordable? The answer is YES -- we rounded up some of our favorites, just in time for on campus interview season.

Comments

  1. Anonymous :

    Looks like link to “guide to suiting alterations” is missing… and I’m definitely interested in it. (I know I can Google this, but for future readers.)

  2. I’ve actually been really impressed with the Merona brand suiting at Target.

    • WHOA. Will have to check out!

    • Agree – Coming to the end of my first year in practice (during which I have had some stumbles trying to assemble a professional wardrobe on a budget), I still feel most confident in my navy Merona suit.

  3. Does anyone know if the J Crew Super 120s and Italian Wool can be “matched”? I have a 120s blazer and my matching skirt no longer fits and it isn’t available right now in my size. I’m guessing no, but hoping yes…

    • Anonymous :

      Unfortunately, they don’t match. I have black items in both fabrics and would not feel comfortable wearing them together.

  4. My Halogen suit is holding up very nicely.

  5. EmIpsaLoquitur :

    When my budget is really tight, my go to is, of all places, Dress Barn. They don’t have a lot of options, but they almost always have a few very basic suit ensembles, sometimes even full suits on clearance. My Jones New York and their store brand pieces, all fully lined, have held up better than some of the pricier brands I’ve purchased. I picked up a tan skirt suit for summer wear recently for about $55, and my black/Navy (blavy?) law school interview suit I picked up clearance for about $40. Both needed a bit of tailoring, but came out way better and way cheaper than some of the options at bigger department stores.

    I’ve also had good luck with some of the suiting at New York & Co, but the sizing and fabric quality is very hit or miss. So either go in store or if you’re ordering online, read reviews and order multiple sizes/cuts, assuming you’ll ship some back.

  6. Midwestern Girl :

    Love this conversation. I’m a Business Career Counselor and we require our students to wear a suit to our annual Career Fairs. I’m at a loss in our community, The Limited was our go-to place and they closed. Then Macy’s decided to shrink their in-store inventory. We have a Penneys – has anyone had any luck with their suits?

    I really like having options under $200. Every fall I have over 200 young ladies looking.

    I agree on Kat’s comments on Express. I will check out Dress Barn and Kohls.

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