In the current economic climate, so many people are facing the daunting prospect of returning to the highly competitive job market, maybe after being with the same company for many years. Although getting an interview is a positive opportunity, it can fill you with all sorts of insecurities about how to make a good impression.

In business, image matters. Job interviews and other high pressure meetings can be stressful enough but you can be one step ahead of the game if you make a positive first impression.

Think about the last time you met someone for the first time. Do you remember what they were saying or do you remember more about their body language and what they were wearing? Research has shown that within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone, 55% of impact is based upon appearance and behaviour, 38% is the voice/accent and only 7% of what we actually say will have made an impression!

When you look good, you feel good, you are more confident, you stand straighter, smile more and even speak with more conviction. All this is especially critical when going for a job interview, networking, meeting new clients or giving an important business presentation.

Obviously, the key thing to remember in dressing the part for an interview is that it must be <B>appropriate<B> to the industry you are seeking employment within. So do your research!

There are basically three types of organisational dress codes:

* Casual - very relaxed and informal

* Business Casual - semi formal

* Formal - suited and booted/professional

Some General Rules for Interview Dressing:

* Check out the dress code in advance and dress one notch above it eg: if it's casual, opt for business casual

* Formal/smart is much less risky (eg a tie for men)

* Fit of clothes - make sure your clothes fit well and flatter your particular body shape

* Colour of clothes - make sure you wear colours which complement your colouring

* Hair - unruly hair will let you down; make sure it is clean and tidy

* Accessories - should be minimal and business-like eg neat jewellery, smart briefcase/portfolio

* Smell - make sure it is only a positive impression which lingers after you leave!

For Men:

The whole objective is to draw your audience's eyes to your face. So go for:

* Dark suit or formal separates

* Shirts should be long-sleeved and well fitting (consider colour carefully)

* A well-knotted tie - link with suit and shirt colour; keep it simple (avoid garish prints)

* Facial hair - neat (or go for a clean shave for the event)

* Jewellery - minimal; a couple of rings and a smart watch

* Shoes - dark coloured and lace up will always look professional

* Aftershave - if in doubt, don't

For Ladies:

Again, the objective is to encourage eye contact. For business casual/formal settings, go for:

* A suit - trouser or skirt (knee length or below)

* Select a flattering neutral colour for your suit, according to your personal colour palette

* Tops - think carefully about colour/neckline/sleeve length/fit. Go for a higher neckline or skinny scarf if you tend to flush under pressure.

* Tights look more professional than bare legs, even in summer.

* Shoes - neutral coloured courts are best. Avoid wearing new shoes for the first time.

* Accessories - well-selected and colour co-ordinated but low key

* Handbag or briefcase? Choose one or the other

* Make up - keep it minimal and make sure nails are manicured

It is important you can focus on giving your best performance at your interview and you don't want the distraction of a too-tight tie, an ill-fitting suit or, for ladies, a gaping blouse, a skirt which rides up when you sit down or jewellery which jangles every time you gesticulate!

Looking the part for business is not a question of money and designer labels. It is all about selecting the most flattering clothes and wearing them with confidence.

In need of a new look to re-launch your career? For a Personal Style or Colour Analysis consultation or Complete Makeover with Julia, contact her on 01753-882636 or e-mail For full details of all her consultations and prices visit

Reader Invitation

Spring/Summer Style Update Morning with image consultations Julia Cumming and Jan Foster tomorrow Friday, March 6 10am-12noon at St Joseph's Church Hall, Autinwood Common. Tickets - £10 available at the door. Learn how to look good this summer without spending a fortune. Bring your friends! For further details, contact Julia on 01753-882636.