Missed out on a promotion or the job of your dreams? Your hair and make-up could be holding you back
Want to know what trashy looks like? Take a glance at Victoria Beckham circa 2005. The blonde highlights, long extensions, fake tan, kohl-rimmed eyes and barely there dress scream “look at me” for all the wrong reasons. More TOWIE than Made In Chelsea, we seriously questioned her “posh” persona.
Fast-forward to now – who is this sophisticated, demure, business-like lady? Well, it’s the same woman. She’s just had one helluva style transformation. And the result? Some seriously changed perceptions. Posh’s gradual rebrand has seen her go from WAG to a high-fashion powerhouse.
Some careful choices about hair and make-up can make all the difference to your success, too. According to research, 60 per cent form an opinion about a person after just five seconds, and a quarter do so based on appearance alone*.
To prove that your beauty regime can make all the difference, check out these two Fabulous readers, who have styled their way to success. Plus, our top tips on how you can rebrand yourself and get that promotion.
‘I have one style for work and another for play’
Victoria Foster, 30, is an accounts supervisor from Romford, Essex. She says:
“Professionalism is the theme of my look. I’ve worked at the same company for nine and a half years, and my job involves dealing with clients, suppliers and competitors, so appearance is key. I look young for my age, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to climb the ranks in the office. Piling on make-up wouldn’t get me the corporate respect I need, so I’ve tried to create a simple look that I think looks grown-up, but in a sophisticated rather than sexy way. This completes my self- imposed uniform of plain, classic clothes and minimal make-up. At the weekend, though, it’s a different story – I’m all about glamour with OTT hair, which is the real me.
But there’s a time and a place for that look, as a work party proved last month. I wanted my colleagues to see me for me – a girlie girl who loves pop music and sparkle. I clipped in my hair extensions, had a spray tan and whacked on two sets of false eyelashes. I even topped my locks with a sparkly tiara. I felt confident… until I walked into the party. Jaws dropped. Some colleagues were really complimentary, but others couldn’t get their heads around my full-on TOWIE-esque transformation as it was younger, bolder, louder and completely the opposite of what they were used to and totally unlike any of the other women in the office. They spoke to me differently, stared at my hair and looked embarrassed.
But it was a one-off and I’d never dream of letting them see me like that again. I keep that bit of me for my personal life. I’ve just landed a promotion, so having one style for work and another for play seems to be the answer for me.”
‘No one took me seriously with blonde hair’
Josie Pohlinger, 23, is a senior accounts executive from Hertford. She says:
“At 18, I was living in Australia and surrounded by beach-blonde babes swishing their locks in the sunshine. Spellbound, and without worrying if it suited me, I went for the full-on bleached look, spending £180 a month to keep my brown roots at bay.
It was only when I came home that I realised the Barbie look wasn’t working for me. I wanted a new career in beauty PR and my ever-returning roots and dry split ends were a massive no-no for groomed potential employers, who tended to have more polished or darker locks. No one took me seriously. I’d go to interviews and hear nothing back, or get passed over for interview opportunities after doing work experience.
Gradually, I started to realise that hardly anyone in the companies I was applying to had platinum-blonde hair. And while no one mentioned my locks, it dawned on me that my beach-babe look gave a laid-back rather than professional, hard-working impression.
After six months of ‘thanks but no thanks’ knock-backs, I embraced my natural mousy tresses, taking them a few shades darker to create a glossy, sophisticated image. The change was instant. I was offered my first beauty PR job weeks later. My new boss didn’t know about my blonde history, but it seems the new brunette me was more employable, whether that was down to confidence, glossiness or both. I wouldn’t say my whole career depended on me changing my hair colour, but it definitely helped!”
Be the female boss
Our style insiders reveal their get-to-the-top tips
*Celeb hairstylist Philip Berkovitz says: “Rule out anything vaguely Brigitte Bardot-esque for work. The less sexy you look, the more intelligent you’ll seem. Straight or smooth hair with a slight wave is best. You don’t want to give any bed-head connotations! You should also avoid edgy styles. Business isn’t about trends, it’s about professionalism, so stick to a natural colour. An easy rule is to go no more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural hair colour.”
*Fabulous Beauty Writer Lauren Ezekiel says: “Professional equals polished, so flawless skin is a must. Remember, there’s a fine line between classy and trashy, so opt for earthy shades on the eyes and lay off the blush. For an added boardroom boost, the statement pout is the ’80s power suit, so don’t be afraid to go bold.”
*Fabulous Junior Shopping Editor Lucie Clifford says: “Add some tailored pieces into your work wardrobe to give you a sharp edge. A classic white shirt and a pencil skirt are perfect. Stay true to your personal style by accessorising with a piece of statement jewellery.”