Style Your Way To Confidence

Catherine2 Style Your Way to Confidence

There are many ways to feel confident in the workplace but the easiest one is to know that your image projects this. Since it takes about 20 seconds to form our first impressions of a person  based on their appearance, to be confident you are making the right impression, it is worth paying a great deal of attention to your image.

Dress to Impress at the Interview

If you are invited to attend an interview, plan your dress very carefully. Find out the dress code of the organisation and dress accordingly, giving the immediate impression you will fit in. A friend of mine was invited for interview for a new position as a counsellor in a primary school. Prior to retraining as a counsellor, she had worked in a high powered City I.T. company where formal business dress was the norm.  She realised that a dark business suit would give the wrong impression. Instead, she chose a relaxed, good quality floral skirt and cardigan. She realised she needed to create the impression that she was approachable to children. Conversely, if you are applying for a position in a business culture, a tailored suit at interview suggests authority and ambition, even if the day to day dress code is more business casual.

How to Dress Confidently in Business Situations

The ‘Business Casual Model’ is now the norm in business. This is characterised by different levels of dressing. Be sensitive to the organisation, context and changing situations in order to confidently choose the appropriate level. Ask if you are un sure :

  • Level one is characterised by the dark suit, reflecting the top level of authority. Depending on the organisation, this would be appropriate for interviews, presentations and meeting clients. If the organisation is more relaxed, at least level two is usually needed for these situations.
  • Level two is characterised by a colourful structured jacket with a tailored skirt, dress or pair of trousers. This look is more relaxed than stage one but still smart and professional. A blazer for men with chinos or similar trousers in a different colour. Formal/ coloured shirt and tie.
  • Level three is characterised by a collar, scarf or statement necklace, so people are drawn to the face. There is less tailoring and is even more relaxed than level two but will not include denim jeans, leggins or leather. For men, a smart pair of trousers, and open necked formal shirt.
  • Level four will be very casual, probably jeans, tee shirts with no accessories or tailoring. This look will lack professional credibility and could look scruffy and uncaring. However, there are some organisations that are currently adopting this level of dressing as the norm, particularly those more creative industries and/or those perhaps with a strong West Coast American influence.

For all these levels, you will feel much more confident if you know which colours and styles are your most flattering. An appointment with an Image Consultant is an investment in your self confidence.

 What about Dressing for the Classroom?

Whether your school or college  has a formal or informal dress code, always set an example by dressing with confidence and authority and follow the good grooming tips below. I suggest Level two or three ( see above for Business Casual Model) for most of your classroom work, unless the subject you teach demands a more casual or specialist dress code. Parents Evenings are the education equivalent of a Business Meeting with clients, so ensure you look the part, especially if you are a young looking teacher and adopt no less than a  Level two dress code.  I always kept a jacket at school for this purpose and it gave me an extra level of confidence when I met with senior staff, chaired meetings or gave presentations to colleagues. It is always worth dressing in Level one or two  clothing at the start of the school year, to show you mean business and help you establish your authority. A higher heel for women adds stature and confidence but ensure you are comfortable as you are on your feet a lot.

There is nothing worse than teachers trying to dress like the students, aping all the latest fashion trends. You run the risk of being seen as ‘sad’ rather than ‘cool’. On the other hand, looking outdated or as though you have put your look together from Oxfam will win you no favours either ( having said that, the Charity Shops can be sources of bargain purchases but ensure they fit, are current, in good condition and well laundered). Students can be terribly critical of a teacher’s appearance and a poor show from you is another chink in your classroom armour. So, stand tall and walk with confidence by putting time and thought into your best classroom management resource: your appearance!

 Don’t Forget the Importance of Good Grooming

Remember that the care and attention you put into your appearance will not only give you confidence, but will transmit the message that you will put equal care and attention into your work. Nothing will ruin your image more than not paying attention to the following matters of grooming:

  • Bath/shower each day
  • Wear appropriate make-up
  • Hair should be clean, dandruff free and styled appropriately. If coloured, roots should not show through. Visit hairdresser every 6-8 weeks
  • Hands and nails should be well maintained. Nail varnish should be discreet or if coloured, not chipped. No bitten nails
  • Deal with body hair- use wax, threading, laser or bleach
  • If teeth are badly stained, look into treatment
  • It is preferable not to wear too much perfume in a business situation. A nicely fragranced body lotion can be sufficient. Deodorant is essential
  • Eyebrows frame the face and should be well plucked/ threaded/waxed. This makes a big difference
  • Piercings and tattoos should be hidden. If hair is short, one pair of earrings are a must
  • Maintain clean clothes and accessories. Keep hem lines and buttons in place and check for dirty marks on clothing
  • Ensure clothing is not too tight, too short or too revealing. To keep your audience’s attention on your message and not on your body, it is a good idea to keep your jacket on and buttoned up when making formal presentations.
  • Most importantly, always look in a full length mirror, front and back before leaving the house!

 Catherine Bruce is a freelance Image Consultant and  Life Coach. She specialises in helping women in their 40’s,50’s and over feel wonderful about themselves by helping them to style themselves to look and feel fantastic and, if needed, by coaching them to attain their career and life goals faster than working alone.She also provides coaching and, if needed, styling to help teachers and classroom professionals achieve self confidence and manage time in order to restore life balance and unlock their unique abilities to make a difference in the classroom.  See




Leave a Reply