Tracy Moore from IMPACT Consultancy is here to help you find success and confidence through addressing your business and personal image, whether you are working from home, have a home based job or run a business at home.
Claire, from Edinburgh, asked:
I'm not a fan of wearing skirts in general, but am still not completely convinced whether it's appropriate to wear a trouser-suit to an interview? I'm very comfortable in trouser-suits in business and in the office itself, but isn't there a different protocol when it comes to interviews?
Remote Employment's Style Guru answered:
My advice to you on the 'trouser versus skirt suit' debate for interviews would be more precise if I was aware within which industry and with which type of company you're going to be interviewing, and also the interview format itself.
However, as a general rule of thumb, wearing a trouser suit to most interviews these days is a very acceptable option, and in some instances would even make a more contemporary and assertive impression than would a skirt-suit.
This said, there are still certain 'traditional' industries and companies where you'd be best to err on the side of caution and wear a highly polished skirt-jacket combo. I'd hedge my bets though that you'd know if you were interviewing within such a sector and environment! Legal positions, senior secretarial positions and some positions within banking and other professional service sectors may all demand a more formal interview attire, that is, a matching skirt and jacket.
As far as dressing to suit your shape goes, a matching trouser-jacket suit is much more likely to flatter you than a skirt-suit if you're pear-shaped, plus-sized or if your legs aren't your best asset. If this is the case, try to find a trouser suit with a palazzo cut (flaring gently yet noticeably from the hip bone right down to the hemline) or a soft boot-leg.
If you do decide to stick with the more traditional skirt-suit for your interview, do steer clear of any colour or design choices that could make this look appear too feminine. So avoid pastel shades and over-use of details such as ribbons, ruffles, bows and so on. Whether it's something that sits well with you or not, masculine style associations still tend to leave a stronger impression of confidence, power, ambition and drive. If these are characteristics that you're keen to have your interviewer perceive in you, then dress accordingly!
Best of luck with your interview!
Eleanor, from Weybridge asked:
I've got an interview lined-up for a Sales Managerial position in the high-tech sector. I'm well aware that how I look and present myself is very important, as is is the case in any business situation where I'm 'out and about'. I've heard, for instance, that even colour choices in my interview outfit can affect the impressions I make. Have you got any tips?
Remote Employment's Style Guru answered:
Tracy says: You're right: we often underestimate the impact that the colours we're wearing have on others in terms of making the best – or the most effective - impression possible. It's worth bearing this in mind whenever you're working away from home, be it with any business associates, from co-workers, business partners, suppliers to clients.
Plenty of research has demonstrated that different colours and colour combinations subconsciously affect how we're judged by others, and how we ourselves appraise others or a particular situation. (Did you know, for instance, that looking at different colours can literally alter our minds' and bodies' physiology – including moods and blood pressure – in the same way different types of music can? Worth thinking about the next time you go to pop on your pillar-box red suit!)
As you're interviewing specifically for the role of Sales Manager – a client-facing role, I assume - you'll need to project an especially confident, professional and 'able' image in your interview. As far as colour goes, the best way you can do this is by wearing a 'high-contrast' colour blend.
So choose a deep or dark colour suit, and then par this with the lightest shirt or top that suits your personal colouring. The reason behind this is that research from the field of colour psychology has shown us that high-contrast colours leave associations of authority, knowledgeability and power; with high-contrast blends, you get noticed and you look like you mean business. Think of police force uniforms, graduation outfits, and even colour indicators for warnings or 'danger'.
As a female, you have more options than guys do when it comes to colour choices for interview and business attire. Ideally it will help to know those colours that best suit your own personal colouring, but consider these options as a rule of thumb: The most conservative and authoritative look you could project through colour would be achieved by choosing, say, a navy suit and white (or cream) shirt or top, or by going for a charcoal suit with a white (or cream) shirt or top.
However, as you're interviewing for a role within a sector that isn't as traditional as some, you can afford to consider other more contemporary business-dress options. Don't forget you want to leave enough of an impression that you stand-out over other interviewees! Wearing the safest 'interview uniform' look is not always the best policy. So, how about going for a plum suit with a white or pale-lilac top?
Or a deep teal suit with a very pale blue shirt? If you have warmer colouring, choose a deep chocolate brown suit and wear it with a cream top.
You'll of course need to consider carefully all elements of your interview look and presentation style when preparing for your interview, but colour is often the easiest starting point. Best of luck!
Watch this space for more tips on how to make your business and personal image work for you, and visit IMPACT Style Consultancy at www.impactstyle.com to find out how Tracy, our Image Consultant, can help you personally.