Jennifer BerryGeneral Assignment Reporter
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
The old adage still rings true but it can be challenging for graduating students whose full-time job until graduation is, well, being a student. Everyday college attire doesn’t typically include so much as a pair of scuff-free shoes and ironed dress pants, let alone a professional wardrobe.
That’s where Humber Student’s Federation’s “Dress for Success” contest can help.
The contest is open to graduating students who are on the brink of entering the workforce and need a hand looking professional right out of college. The winner will be awarded $1,000 gift card to spend on a work wear wardrobe.
Ahmed Tahir, HSF Vice-President of Student Life at North Campus, says HSF recognizes the challenge that many graduating students face: trying to look polished and professional with typically limited resources.
“We know that dressing appropriately for work is key and a lot of the time students don’t have money, especially coming right out of college,” said Tahir, 23.
Creative Photography student Jessica Muir, 19, is in her final year of study and agrees that dressing appropriately for your field is essential.
“It’s important. Especially going into my field, you need to look like you know what you’re doing and to look like you have the creative ability,” said Muir.
Muir says she dresses on a student’s budget by doing her research to find the best deals and buying pieces that work in numerous outfits and situations, “so I get the most out of it.”
The $1,000 gift card can be used at Cadillac Fairview, a chain of shopping malls including the Toronto Eaton Centre and Sherway Gardens. An HSF executive will accompany the lucky winner on their shopping spree, which Tahir calls “the fun part,” adding that he’ll have to take lots of breaks.
“I’m not a shopping expert,” said Tahir with a laugh.
For students having to fend for themselves on the shopping front, Tahir recommends outlets and online shopping to search for deals.
“Online shopping for me it’s where it’s at. And outlet stores and sales. I try not to buy anything unless it’s on sale,” said Tahir.
Film wardrobe stylist and former retail consultant Zoë Preston, 31, says the key to dressing for success on a budget is making fewer but higher quality purchases and making sure the fit is perfect.
“I would say quality over quantity and fit is the most important thing I’ve noticed throughout my years of working in fashion,” said Preston. “You don’t have to go out and buy five pairs of shoes, just buy one good pair.”.
No matter the budget or career path, Tahir and Preston concur that feeling comfortable and confident in your clothes will help you make the best impression.
“Put your best foot forward and mirror what you’ve seen (in your chosen field),” said Preston.
“More than looking successful to other people, it’s about how you feel in the clothes. If that outfit makes you feel confident and makes you feel comfortable and makes you feel like you can go to an interview and get your points across, that’s the most important part,” said Tahir.
“It’s how you feel in the clothes, beyond anything else,” he said.
Students can submit either a two-minute video or a 500-word essay explaining why they deserve a new work wardrobe. Submissions are accepted until 4:30 p.m. April 8. Visit