For a great first impression at an interview - and every day at work - learn from these five women, whose confidence-boosting makeovers gave them a whole new edge. Want to undergo your own transformation at home? Pick up more beauty and fashion tips from their makeovers here.
Look #1: Laura Truglio, 50, Special Education Teacher
A classic interview outfit gains a "can do!" vibe with rolled-up sleeves. "Special education is a field where teachers often end up with their hands literally dirty," says Peter Cappelli, director of the Wharton Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania. "While it's probably not a good idea to go to the interview in play clothes, it's also not a good idea to come in very formal clothes."
Update the Button-Down
To tweak tradition, choose a shirt with diagonal stripes and a bold collar. Once Laura has her job, she can team the blouse with flat-front pants and low-heeled shoes for activities with her students: "I've got a much better idea of what's appropriate to wear for a job interview."
Take a peep? Open-toes ought to be appropriate as long as the shoe itself is structured and businesslike. A rule of thumb: "It if works for the beach, it probably isn't right for an interview," says Gillian Edick, managing director, U.S. human resources, for the global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller.
Look #2: Doris Phillips, 47, Real Estate EntrepreneurFocus on Fit
Don't hide behind too-big clothes: "Chic, fitted clothing expresses confidence," notes career coach Debra Condren, Ph.D., author of Ambition Is Not a Dirty Word.
This dress is curvy yet clean-lined, with a bold neckline. "People may not associate a fussy style with a get-the-job-done approach," says Cappelli.
Kick Up the Color
While black, gray, and navy remain the standard in the corporate world, as an entrepreneur, Doris needs to stand out. The fuchsia she's wearing is a memorable, flattering power color. Note: A vivid hue is an accessory in itself; wear it with minimal flourishes.
Add a Low-Key Layer
Bring a bold color down to earth with a neutral jacket - anything from crisp white to no-fail black.
To the knee. It's the foolproof, always-flattering hemline.Photos from Dramatic Turn-Back-the-Clock Makeovers
Look #3: Sarah Josephson, 37, Video Editor and Producer
Shake Up the Silhouette
Instead of donning a same-old trouser-and-jacket pairing, Sarah shows off her artistic edge in a fresh new "un-suit" - a cream-and-black combo of skinny pants, tunic, and hip-length blazer. Neutral shades keep the look classic and classy.
Add Some Flair
"Show a little personality with a patterned shirt, a colorful scarf, or an interesting piece of jewelry," says Edick, "but keep it to one accent piece, to jazz up an otherwise streamlined look." Sarah's brightly patterned fringed scarf adds the spark here.
Belt it. Add shape to long layers for a more professional look.
Don't do denim. With a casual piece like these pants, take the fabric up a notch - say, twill or crepe.
Heels, please. They give tapered pants a sophisticated edge.Spring Trends That Flatter Every Figure
Look #4: Rhoda Nkojo, 35, Attorney
Show Your Smarts
"When interviewing in a buttoned-up field, opt for time-tested colors - black, gray, navy - but avoid a junior-level look by choosing a chic, modern silhouette," says Condren. This sophisticated, shapely dress fills the bill.
Pay Attention to Detail
Be impeccable: "Iron, and make sure your shoes are polished; your interviewer will notice," says Diane Foley O'Brien, director of human resources for telecommunications retailing firm Wireless Zone.
Extra! Extra! Pick one bold accessory, like this Lucite-and-gold necklace.
Soft shoulder. Wear a jacket over a sleeveless look when interviewing in a conservative workplace.
Bottom line. Add spark to a subdued outfit with patent pumps in a pale but still neutral shade.Timeless Fashion Trends You Can Pull Off
Look #5: Alexandra Santford, 37, Medical Researcher
Consider the Culture
"Conservative firms are interested in having new hires fit in rather than stand out," explains Cappelli. "So instead of an interview outfit that goes for the wow factor, keep it understated." It's hard to go wrong with a sophisticated dress and jacket, plus feminine heels, as seen here.
Your top layer doesn't have to be boring: This one has some pizzazz, thanks to the pattern, piping, and three-quarter sleeves. Once you ace the interview and are in the job, team the dress with a shrug or belted sweater for a more casual look.
Think small. When you are petite like Alex, a slim belt is the perfect way to define your waist.
Let it ring. How to brighten a conservative outfit: with a single bold accessory.
A shoe-in. Pointy-toed pumps easily add a feminine touch.
Hosiery how-to. Play it safe: Wear nude or black stockings on an interview; once you land the job, see if bare legs make the grade.
What are your go-to pieces for interviews, big meetings, or other important events?
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.