How to dress for success | Top tips from business stylist, Emma Samengo-Turner

dress for success

We’ve all heard the expression ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ and when it comes to job interviews this saying is particularly pertinent.

Some studies have now suggested that we form judgements within the first 100 milliseconds of meeting someone. This isn’t enough time to convince someone of your competence through conversation, so the way you dress is foundational to making a positive impression.

Emma Samengo-Turner, head stylist at Quest Professional, formerly the ‘Lucie Clayton Charm Academy’ finishing school now turned top business college, knows that whether you are a model or work in a top financial role, fashion and image will always be central to success.

Based in the heart of Westminster, Emma is used to advising Quest Professional students on how to dress for roles with top employers in the City of London and elsewhere. With 87 per cent of students at Quest securing a role within just eight weeks of graduating their course, appropriate attire is one essential element of Quest’s highly successful track record.

Here, Emma offers her top tips to readers on how to dress to impress for the corporate world.

Research the dress code of the company

There is no one outfit that will be suitable for all interviews so it’s important to find out the company’s dress code. You can do this by looking at their website, as well as speaking to their HR department and if applicable, your own recruitment agency.

Some creative industries may be less formal than a corporate employer but still dress up and not down. Avoid denim and trainers even if you would wear these to work normally. Similarly, tops with slogans can be very distracting so avoid anything with a brand name or writing printed across it. Remember: if in doubt, it’s better to be overly-formal than too casual.

Be well groomed

Make sure your hair is clean and drawn off your face. Nails should be well-manicured and if painted choose subtle shades. Similarly, keep makeup toned down. A job interview isn’t the best time to experiment with neon eyeshadows so why not try out that classy nude palette instead?

Be sparing with your application of perfume, as no one wants to be in a stuffy room for 45 minutes with an overpowering scent of Chanel No. 19! And speaking of unwanted scents… if you smoke, don’t have a cigarette before the interview, as the smell will linger.

Be appropriately professional

It’s always advisable to err on the conservative side of clothing. Don’t forget to keep it simple – if you’re fiddling with tassels or buttons, it will be distract both you and the interviewer.

You can pair tights with dresses and skirts during the colder months. Once temperatures rise, nude tights add a polished look to your ensemble. Don’t forget that you’re in the office for eight or more hours, so make sure you wear shoes you can walk in and steer away from overly high heels! If you opt for flats, wear smart shoes such as loafers or brogues rather than a more casual choice. All shoes should be cleaned and polished prior to the interview.

It’s great to have an individual edge to your look, but if you have multiple piercings or visible tattoos, an interview may not be the best time to display them!

Finally – and most importantly:

Be yourself

In both your interview and in any secured job, it’s important to feel comfortable in the clothes you wear; both in fit and style. Not everyone has to dress like they’re in the cast of Suits, so if pencil skirts and high heels aren’t your scene, don’t worry about it! You can wear a dress or trouser suit with smart flats or mid-heel shoes.

For individuality, you can balance the dress code with your own personal taste. You can add a splash of brightness to your outfit by wearing a colourful shirt or blouse, or taking along a signature handbag or scarf.

Fashion and style is all about expressing an identity. If you’re ambitious and looking to climb the career ladder at speed, how you dress is central to proving your drive and professionalism to employees and colleagues. If you follow these top tips, you are already halfway to achieving the career of your dreams!


For more information on how Quest Professional can secure you a top job and their range of courses for A-level and university leavers, please visit their website https://www.questprofessional.co.uk/.

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