Top tips on dressing for success

alexandra meyer

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The Australasian College Broadway ( is hosting an event this weekend called Bubbles and Bargains in a partnership with Dress for Success Sydney to support disadvantaged women. We talk to Founder and Co-Chair of The Australasian College, Maureen Houssein-Mustafa OAM about the importance of dressing for success.

How can your clothing help you in the search for employment or simply your confidence in general?

New research shows that 55 per cent of what an interviewer thinks about you is based on the first 30 seconds of the interview.

While I’ve always tried to live by the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, the truth is in today’s society we often make judgements based on the way people look. Impressions are formed within the first minute of meeting someone. Your appearance can say a lot about your personality. The way you dress, wear your hair and apply make-up will contribute to someone’s first impression of you. So it’s important to get it right.

If you feel confident in the way you look, you’ll portray this through your body language and personality.

Do you think people consciously feel more confident when they are dressed in more professional clothing?

I think you need to feel comfortable to be confident! Do your research and make your attire “occupation appropriate”.

For an office setting, it is usually best to dress conservatively, clean, ironed pants or knee length skirt with a blouse or tailored top is most suitable. For a more informal role, you might be able to dress more creatively. Either way, ensure you are clean and neat and have looked after your, shoes, nails and hair.

PHOTOS: Job interview makeup mistakes

What is your go-to piece of clothing when you need a boost of confidence?

My favourite piece which always gives me a boost is my classic, simple black dress that transforms throughout the day from office to gala event with the appropriate accessories.

What is one staple piece that most women should have in their closet for an interview?

One of the things that I think works really well is a smart, but conservative navy suit. You can dress it up or down depending on the role or occasion.

What are some of the biggest mistakes women make when dressing for an interview?

• Cleavage is the number one no-no in a job interview!
• Avoid V-neck and low cut tops and choose a conservative blouse instead. While showing some cleavage and wearing a tight top might be appropriate for a first date, it’s not appropriate in a job interview situation.
• For men, stay clear of novelty ties. You want to be taken seriously so wear a tie that complements your suit and shirt.

What are your top tips for ‘dressing for success’?

Getting Ready

• Unless you’re interviewing for a highly artistic field, i.e. hairdressing, I highly recommend conservative hair.
• For men – that means a traditional haircut, use a matte styling product for a cleaner look and avoid wet looks or trendy styles.
• For women –have any colour touched up. Colour should be natural looking. No white streaks or pastel colours. The exception would be in the arts and entertainment business. More artistic styles and colours are acceptable in these professions.
• Do not wear a hat or a head piece to an interview.

Choosing the wardrobe

• Keep it clean, pressed, and neutral.
• If it’s a creative role, don’t be afraid to demonstrate your personality through colour and accessories.
• Skip the perfume. Many people find it overpowering or are allergic.
• Fingernails should be clean and well presented. Believe it or not – people do pay attention to even the smallest detail. It is worth getting a manicure on a regular basis so your nails look great. This doesn’t have to cost the earth. The Australasian College Broadway provides over 500 low cost treatments to the public by the students who need the practical experience.
• Women should be sure to wear light, natural make-up and keep their hair away from the face.

How did this event start?

Dress for Success Sydney is a registered charity that outfits disadvantaged women free of charge. The charity held its first Bubbles and Bargains sale in late 2011. The sales now have a great following of fashionistas and due to popular demand the fourth sale will be held on 11 November 2012.

This particular Bubbles and Bargains is shaping up to be the biggest ever and will showcase preloved clothing and accessories. Prices start at $5! The Designer Room is the place to be to pick up a bargain but be prepared – you’ll need to get in early.

How to purchase tickets:
Tickets can be purchased online at: or at the door on the day. However, tickets are limited!

So get a group of friends together and enjoy some spectacular designer retail therapy whilst supporting an excellent cause.

For further information:

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