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Life and Arts

Civility: A polished appearance for women

Part One: First Impressions

A polished appearance has many benefits, including opportunities of being chosen in an interview competition over other job candidates who have equal education and equal experience. In the first three minutes, others decide if they want to get to know you better. This may be the only chance you have.

It is of critical importance that you know how to create a positive first impression using wardrobe selection, etiquette and communication skills. Good taste carries into any area, and a powerful presence helps in any business.

When I present seminars to corporations about professional image and business etiquette, the complaints are that clothing has become ultra-casual and tasteless. Manners are lax and often rude. When a client chooses someone to handle their finances, for example, they want someone who looks and acts trustworthy. A suit and tie will create more trust than jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. Fashion trends do not belong in a corporate atmosphere. In an interview, dress for the job you would like to have. Be educated about the company that you are interviewing. Go online to study their culture. Be educated in dress, poise and the ability to communicate.


Clothing choices: Choose clothing that shows efficiency, objectivity and good taste: Straight-lined suits with soft edges, chiffon or a silk scarf; coat dresses with a pocket scarf; a simple dress with soft lines and tasteful, modest neckline; versatile two-piece dresses that coordinate with a separate jacket. One may choose a fitted, straight, or A-line linen, silk or wool dress.

Executive presence: Choose dark and rich neutrals. For lighter skin, one may use lighter colored blouses or scarves near the face; simple understated styles; medium-weight fabric; closed toe or slightly-closed toe shoes; and good quality handbags.

Power suit: Soften the power suit; mix and match; draped fabrics; softer shoulders; and different combinations with the same suit. Dresses with jackets are smart.

Makeup: Always wear tasteful cosmetic applications keyed to the skin, hair and eyes. An absence of makeup implies women are of the Hippie era. A bare look with nude lipstick might work for those under 30 or if in an exercise routine. Makeup creates a warmer, more approachable look and a feeling of self-confidence.


DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, is an image stylist/etiquette and civility specialist. Contact her at or (626) 584-9761.