Dress to impress

Got a vacation scheme interview coming up? Then wise up on how to dress for the big occasion with tips from image consultant Anthea Yamey.

When it comes to your dress code, the transition from student to trainee solicitor can be difficult if you are uncertain or unaware of what your profession expects from you. But as a general rule, when presenting yourself at interviews, it will always be wise to wear a more conservative outfit without looking boring or losing your sense of personal style.

Research has shown that 90 per cent of people will decide what they think and feel about you within the first 10 40 seconds of meeting you, based on:

What they see 55 per cent
What they hear -38 per cent
What you say -7 per cent

This research clearly shows that visual impact is significant in terms of how you will be perceived the minute that you walk into the room. With only one bite at the cherry, getting it right should be taken seriously.

The interview is your opportunity to present yourself as the star on the playing field, an asset, the person who immediately looks as if they understand and will fit into the organisation and be taken seriously. Fortunately looking the part is easily achieved, using common sense and following a few simple guidelines.

1. Be appropriately attired. Looking like a fashion victim may cast doubt as to how serious you are about your career.

2. Ensure that everything fits you well. Fit far outweighs the importance of price when it comes to presenting a positive and confident image.

3. Be well groomed.

Suggestions, thoughts, ideas, hints and tips on what to wear

If you need to buy the interview outfit, head for the sales before approaching your interviews. In the present economic climate youll find many shops with permanently discounted rails. Clothing outlet stores also offer great value for money. You really dont have to spend a fortune to achieve the right image.

Men

A plain or pin striped, two or three-buttoned single breasted suit in navy or medium/dark grey would be a good choice to wear to your interview. The etiquette of wearing a suit is to fasten the top button of a two-buttoned suit and either the top two or middle button of a three-buttoned suit.

Wear a white, soft white, light to medium blue or subtly patterned shirt with a collar that fits well. The area around your face is where interviewers focus most of their attentionthey will notice an unbuttoned collar and may think you are sloppy.

If you wear cuff links, keep them sober and avoid wearing novelty links.

Choose a tie that shows your individuality, but make sure that it is not too eye catchingyour tie should not be the first thing that the interviewers notice when you walk into the room. Avoid wearing a whacky tie to an interview (youre unlikely to be hired if you wear a Mickey Mouse tieor a Minnie Mouse tie, for that matter).

Theres an old saying: You can always judge a gentleman by his shoes. Wear clean black shoes, preferably leather soled. They can be either lace-ups or slip-ons, with or without an inconspicuous buckle.

You cant go wrong with plain black smooth knit socks no Bart Simpson on your ankles.

If your suit trousers have belt loops, wear a belt with a simple buckle, otherwise it might look as if you had dressed in a hurry and forgotten to put one on.

Be clean shaven (unless of course you wear a beard) – save that five oclock shadow for social occasions.

Play it safe – remove facial piercings and cover visible tattoos.

Wearing aftershave might be a risk you may love your fragrance, but your interviewers may loathe it.

Women

Wear a skirt/trouser suit in a neutral colour (black, grey, navy, brown, etc). Another option would be a skirt or dress with a different coloured jacket. If you choose to wear colour, it shouldnt be too bright. When choosing a style to fit your body shape, the general rules are: Curvy bodies = softer shaped jackets, wider legged trousers; straight or angular bodies = structured jackets, straighter legged trousers.

Your shirt, blouse or smart T-shirt styled top is your opportunity to inject some colour, checking that the interviewer will not be tempted away from your face by too much cleavage on show.

Always wear tights or stockings in a neutral colour. Although fashionable, opaque, lacy, patterned or fishnet tights can be a distraction.

Shoes with heels look more sophisticated than totally flat shoes, but teetering into the room wearing killer heels may reduce your professional impact.

Hair longer than shoulder length will look more professional worn up or back.

A little make-up goes a long way towards creating a groomed and confident look. Lipstick or lip gloss alone can do the trick.

Jewellery and accessories express individuality, but dangly earrings, clanking bangles or bling will be distracting.

As with the men, remove facial piercings, cover visible tattoos, and be careful with perfume.

The most important thing to wear? A smile on your face as you walk tall into the room and enjoy the experience of being there.

Anthea Yamey is an image consultant.