I got a call the other day from a journalist who told me she “couldn’t get enough” of my blog. I suspected a wind-up, but she was genuine. We agreed to meet.
In walked a smiley young woman, flat shoes, clear tights, Prada glasses, tatoos. Reporter’s notebook and novelty phone case. Natural, reddish-brown hair and sparkly eyes, no make up.
First impressions count, and my first impression was she was nice, unthreatening, engaging. But journalists can be tricky and I worried that she might write something negative or sarcastic about my organisation, or me.
Jess McCabe is the Features Editor of trade press title, Inside Housing, and she is preparing a special edition on People, focusing on the people who work in social housing. She wants to talk to me about how they dress, if we tell them what to wear, what is appropriate in central London, on a hot day, for people from different backgrounds, in varied professional teams.
As a journalist, Jess needs to gain the trust of a wide range of people very quickly. Her warm and friendly manner helps, but what she wears helps build an image of someone who is approachable. Her outfit today is relaxed, not overly formal, but a work outfit nonetheless. The navy tailored collar on the upper part of her dress, and the grey marl of the bodice and skirt, both reference work clothes, and give her sufficient authority to hold her own with those she interviews. The dress is pleated and semi-tailored but in a soft fabric which clings a little. Jess wears colourless tights, and navy round toed shoes with elasticated straps. If Jess wants to increase her “authority” she could wear a jacket and maybe a more “grown up” shoe – navy or tan leather would go with everything. If Jess decides to buy a suit for interviews then I would suggest maybe russet-brown or camel with a structured jacket, good waist shaping and a slim skirt.
Jess has amazing, naturally reddish brown, curly hair which she keeps tied up. Why not let it out and celebrate it? If you always wear a pony tail consider a shorter cut – some layers would emphasis the curl and bring the colour to life.
I would like to see Jess’s natural beauty emphasised though a more colourful wardrobe. She would look amazing in reddish browns with a coral blouse, or mustard with cream or teal, or a pea green jumper with jeans. She might try some patterns too, and gold jewellry would enhance her natural sparkle.
I mentioned the tattoo which is revealed by her short-sleeved dress. Body decoration is important to Jess and she speaks quite passionately about the designs, the people who did them, and how they connect her with her past. As we talk about fashion trends I admit that until recently I would have expected body art to be covered up at work. But times change and I don’t think it’s much of an issue today. Tattoos have well and truly moved out of prisons and the Navy, and are now sported by celebrities and middle class youth alike.
And here are some of the colours she could have worn…