1. Image counts. During the first few minutes of meeting someone your appearance will give away many clues about you. Hair style, make-up and clothes are all symbols which we can bring into play either consciously or subconsciously. Your image is constantly sending out messages to people so think carefully about what type of impression you want to create.
2. Choose quality over quantity always. Good quality fabrics look, wear and last well. Having six pairs of black trousers is of little use if only one fits perfectly. While you do not have to spend a fortune to dress well you should aim for carefully selected pieces. Invest time in seeking out clothes which suit your figure and colouring. Opt for quality fabrics - you will often find great bargains in the sales.
3. Find out which shades suit you best. An image consultant will help you find your true colours or you can discover which ones work to your advantage by standing in front of a mirror and holding garments in different colours close to your face. Some will make you come alive while others will leave you looking drained. Remember most people can wear the majority of colours, it is the shade and intensity of these which determine whether they will work for you.
Colour co-ordinate your wardrobe. Grey goes with most colours but adhere to three or four shades for the rest of your working wardrobe, such as white, black, pink or red to add a splash of colour. Men can use ties to inject colour and style into their look and different shirts to brighten up last year’s suit.
Winning colour combinations include navy and white, black and white or red and black.
Resist the temptation to mimic every fashion trend. Otherwise you will end up broke and with a wardrobe bulging with out of date styles. You may only get one season out of many high fashion outfits.
4. Form a capsule working wardrobe. This should include a crisp white shirt, a Lycra T-shirt, two trouser or skirt suits, a raincoat, dresses and cardigans and some co-ordinates which you can mix and match. Try to buy these in two solid colours. Then use colour in shirts, for example, to liven up your outfit. This is also a less expensive way of being fashionable. A tailored suit and formal shirt suggests a businesslike approach and indicates you are someone who is strong, sharp, decisive, urbane, sophisticated and in control. Wearing a suit will also save you time, co-ordinates take longer to put together. Suits are associated with executive status and give off a professional, efficient air so if you are aiming for promotion or a change of career choose one that is tailored but made from a soft fabric. Women should choose a jacket style with curved seaming or curved lapels. The skirt need not be straight but it should be of a basic colour that suits your skin tone.
When building up your wardrobe start with a few neutral colours which suit you and then build around these. The most versatile bases are navy, grey, black and beige. You can then add additional colours to give these a lift.
5. Choose outfits which make you look good and feel confident without being overdressed. Image consultants advise always erring on the side of caution when it comes to dressing for work. Simple clothes can look great if linked up with a related colour scheme.
6. Opt for classic looks. The best clothing buys are those which last longest. Classics should be the backbone of any wardrobe, they have timeless appeal and will take you from day to evening with ease. They are also easily updated with accessories.
Remember always to check how you look in a full length mirror before you leave your home.
7. Think ahead. When you buy a suit, be it a skirt or trouser suit, buy an additional skirt or pants. You’ll end up wearing the bottom part more than the jacket and the colour may fade due to wear and tear and drycleaning.
8. Use accessories to update and expand your wardrobe. Have a good selection, including jewellery, bags, belts, scarves and hats. They need not be expensive to look well and can be updated regularly which means your wardrobe can be dressed up or down to meet every fashion challenge. Accessories can change an entire outfit, disguise figure flaws or revitalise last year’s favourites. They also offer great scope for individuality.
9. Men interested in upgrading their image at work should avoid wearing jeans, say style experts. No matter how good the quality they are still a non-runner if you want to be perceived as someone going places, especially up the management ladder. Many companies have a smart casual dress code which means you do not need to wear a suit and tie to work. Jackets and trousers are a wise option.
10. At the end of the day age, personality and fashion consciousness will all play a part in your choice of work outfit. Experimenting with different colour combinations, changing accessories and keeping an eye on current fashion trends, will all help you develop a look that reflects both your personality and ambitions.
What to avoid wearing at work
* Scruffy shoes, clashing colours or frayed cuffs and collars
* Linen, unless your job involves standing up all the time! Otherwise your prized outfit will look a crumpled mess by evening
* Big, chunky jumpers under suit jackets
* Bright socks with dressy suits. Play safe and opt for dark shades.
* Clothes which you would like to think are figure hugging but are really a size too small
* Leather trousers, very short skirts or plunging necklines
* Big jangly bracelets may look great for after six but can detract from a businesslike image