Graduated? How to get the first break: dress for success

The Manchester Evening News recently featured an article ‘Graduated? How to get the first break’ and I was asked to contribute as an Image Consultant on how to dress for an interview to make the right impression and stand out from the crowd.

This is a very popular question and one, which crops up time and again with my clients. Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject.

It is very important to put a lot of thought into what to wear for a job interview.

There is a saying “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” and this is so true, in an interview situation first impressions are crucial. And employers and interview panels are expecting to be impresses.

My first recommendation is to do your homework, most companies these days have Dress Codes, find out what the Dress Code is and dress accordingly.

It is always better to be smart and over dressed than too casual. For example, Ernst and Young operate a flexible dress code with guidelines for employees and prospective employees to view. Their recommendation for If in doubt what to wear is to “overdress.”

So where to begin:

For most a good quality work suit will be the essential core piece. Remember quality always shines through, so whatever clothes you are buying, always buy the best you can afford.

Be aware of any alterations that need to be carried out to ensure that your suit fits you perfectly. I am amazed by how many people wear suits with sleeves that are too long, or trousers are far too short, it is this sort of lack of attention to detail that can sometimes let you down.

For ladies, most suits nowadays come with a choice of matching options e.g. dresses, skirts, trousers, waistcoats etc… so when making your selection be aware of your body shape, and get to know the styles that flatter you.

Choose a neutral colour, black, navy or grey, this might sound a little dull, but seasonal colours can be in introduced with blouses, shirts and your accessories – handbags, shoes, hosiery, jewellery, ties, belts, scarves etc…. to create a more distinctive and stylish look.

It is worth investing in a few well-chosen accessories, as accessorizing can instantly lift an outfit from average to polished.

Keep footwear non fussy and elegant. Make sure your shoes do not overpower your outfit, and remember to ensure your shoes are clean and not in need of any repairs.

When choosing a handbag, a structured style bag will look neater and more professional.

Set the standard high and pay attention to the details. Don’t be let down by lack of effort and care to your nails, hair and make up. Think smart, tailored and well groomed at all times.


I now offer an image consultancy service for men, including mens personal shopping trips.

Wardrobe advice for men

Image Consultancy for women

Both images courtesy of Jaeger

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