How To Dress To Get Past The Gatekeepers

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– Before an interview with an executive search specialist, glean as much information on the role they might have in mind for you and translate into your wardrobe: err on the side of effort. Even if the role is to lead a digital start-up, you will still be judged on how well put together you look. As Sheryl Sandberg says: “Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.” Note: Sandberg’s wardrobe is populated with sharp separates – pencil skirts, tailored trousers, jackets and crisp shirts.

– Even informal approaches by an executive search firm should not be interpreted as casual: Impress from the off and stay consistent to your style. A businesswoman-in-hiding look will not get you anywhere.

– Always give your brain the headspace it needs in an interview by dressing simple – then forgetting about what you’re wearing: Neutral colours like navy or grey are good choices, choose fabrics that don’t crease, skirts that graze the knee (never shorter), shirts that won’t gape and bracelets that don’t jangle.

– As 30 Rock‘s Avery Jessup once said “Flats are for quitters,” so always wear heels. They force you to stand taller, shoulders back. Three inches is the maximum height though. Choose hosiery to flatter, not highlight: subtle sheers or fine opaques are best.

– Get a power haircut. Of the 25 females leading Fortune 500 companies, 20 have versions of the power bob: think HP’s Meg Whitman’s classic take, the layered, tucked-behind-the-ears interpretation of Avon’s Sheri McCoy, and the stick-straight look of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

– Wear a good coat. It’s important to look as you would if you were attending the office HQ of a major client – complete with the right accessories.

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