PracticeAccounting FirmsFashion makeover: before… and after

Fashion makeover: before... and after

Earlier this month we took two accountants to John Lewis for a fashion makeover. Here the stylists explain how to dress for work and the two guinea pigs tell us what they made of the day. Photographie: David Rose

Amanda Slader, chief fashion adviser for John Lewis

It’s important to get a clear idea of a person’s unique body shape. Women are
generally a column, or a curve. This gives an essential foundation for selecting
clothes to flatter a person’s figure.

Veronika wanted help to create a professional, contemporary look with a
‘funky’ edge that would reflect her personality, as well as flatter her figure.
To achieve this, I focused on finding useful, multifunctional clothes which
could be dressed up or down to achieve maximum looks.

A softly fluted, washable skirt in black fitted Veronika’s waist and was long
enough to cover her knees to keep the look professional. This was paired with a
scoop neck, black vest flattering her bust line (while remaining appropriate!)
and creating an ‘open’ look. This then gave us a black column of colour to
elongate and slim her silhouette.

I selected a fitted jacket that was perfect to ‘cinch in’ Veronika’s tiny
waist and by keeping it short her leg length was maximised. Fabulous detailing
on the jacket sleeve added some interest and personality to the look.

A sharp bag coupled with some shoes were all the accessories needed to
combine a smart look with a young, trendy appeal. Accessories can make or break
an outfit. When chosen well they are an easy way to add colour and glamour to
tailored, classic work garments. Remember, less is more and opt for creating
interest rather than overkill.

For a more relaxed look that could be worn in an informal office, or for a
networking event we chose a purple wrap dress. This was perfect for Veronika’s
shape and wrap dresses offer subtle tailoring for a more feminine look. Another
alternative this season is wide leg, masculine tailored trousers, which look
great teamed with a crisp shirt or knitted jacket.

Veronika Sapriko, internal auditor at JP Morgan Chase, on her new

In January, I trundled off to John Lewis having allowed Accountancy Age to
persuade me to participate in a fashion makeover.

As an internal auditor at JP Morgan I believe I should dress soberly to
reflect the environment in which I work. John Lewis’ personal stylist Amanda
came back with some funky clothing alternatives that I wouldn’t necessarily have
chosen for myself. To boot, I had the luck of having my make up done by Paul
Herrington, head of artistry for Bobbi Brown make-up, what a treat.

Post-event I am convinced that although the responsibilities of our
professional role are serious, it is absolutely possible to look feminine and
elegant in business. It was a very positive experience and I came away from the
day with renewed confidence and a spring in my step. I would absolutely
prescribe a make-over like mine to all City women.

Frank Higgins, sales assistant menswear at John Lewis Oxford

There was a time when the hardest decision that men had to make every morning
revolved around the colour of their tie. However, with hot
‘impossible-to-wear-a-jacket’ summers, dress down Fridays and more relaxed
styles of working, professional men are now challenged to master the allusive
smart/casual look.

Chas is a professional who needs to wear a suit to work, but would like to
successfully dress down the look for Friday in the office. There are now a
variety of fabrics available and we achieved a softer look with a suit in
moleskin. The beauty of this particular suit is that it can also be worn
separately. The jacket can be worn with jeans at the weekend and the trousers
look great with a stripy shirt for informal work lunches.

The brown Ultimo jacket also comes in almond, navy and black and, for a
different look, we picked the almond moleskin trousers and combined it with the
jacket in brown. Another way to achieve a more accessible look with your work
suits is to be more adventurous with your suit shirts by buying stripes or small
checks. You can also have fun with ties and allow them to portray your

The last look we tried was a pinstripe, single-breasted suit by Chester for
Chester Barrie, which knocked ten pounds and ten years off Chas’ body-shape and
offered a more modern and contemporary look than his usual double-breasted

Chas Roy Chowdhury, head of tax at ACCA, on his new look

It may be an individual’s choice to some extent as to which type and style of
clothes one wears but I feel for an accountant who is in an externally facing
position it is vital to dress in the way that their ‘audience’ would expect.

By this I mean it could be smart casual attire if they work in the film or IT
industry, but more sober, sharper, suited attire where they operate in general
practice with mainstream clients. The last thing the proprietor of a small
business would like to see at a client meeting is their accountant dressed in

I have to admit, for one who uses trains (usually not air-conditioned) and
the underground for commuting, wearing a suit in summer is not my first choice.

I get the impression that most people still gain a make-or-break impression
of someone within seconds of meeting them, based on the way they dress. And
someone dressed casually or with a tie at half mast is perceived as being less
thorough and competent.

I guess it’s horses for courses and everyone needs to make their own choice.
I doubt if it will change my style of business clothes but the day did give me
ideas for smart alternatives.

After this experience I would recommend any accountant to take a look at
themselves and see if their business wardrobe is really their best option.

Fashion advice

Whether you need an outfit to secure that new job, or would like to learn how to
‘dress for the job you want, rather than the job you have’, the John Lewis
Fashion Advice Service offers you a personal stylist to create sartorial
solutions for every work fashion dilemma.

Simply contact your local John Lewis to arrange an appointment ­ call 0845
604 9049 for your nearest John Lewis branch.

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