Norwich women get a new look for work

What do you do if you change your career and find you don't know what to wear for work that will make a good impression? Three different career women with three different style challenges found out through a Life Matters makeover. By EMMA HARROWING.

It's 7am and your alarm is going off signalling that it's time to get up and get ready for work. You have a shower, grab a cup of coffee, get dressed and you are out of the door ready to start your day.

For some of us the routine goes like clockwork, but if you do not know what to wear for work each day getting ready for work can seem like a chore.

If you wear a uniform for work or you have to be suited and booted everyday choosing what to wear for work is easy, but for those that can wear anything for work the balance of looking smart while still redeeming your individual style can be challenging.

For three Norfolk women the prospect of selecting what to wear for work is a constant challenge. Rebecca Lewis Smith, Maria Madge and Julie Bishop have changed career by setting up their own business and with the change each have experienced a different challenge when it comes to what to wear for work.

All three were given a colour and shape consultation with Norfolk image consultant Claire Bunton. Claire works with many men and women to help them discover the colours and shapes that flatter their body shape and lifestyle.

'The idea behind image consultancy is not just to 'get your colours done' but to show you how you can look and feel a lot better by wearing the colours and shapes that suit your body shape,' says Claire.

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'The style analysis also takes into account your lifestyle whether you are a managing director of a company or you work in a creative capacity, or if you are a full time parent. Everyone has a wardrobe style that they prefer whether it is practical, floaty and frilly or dramatic. The idea behind style analysis is to discover what type of clothes suit your body shape, colouring and lifestyle.'

The colour and style consultation involves filling in a questionnaire about what you like and dislike about your body and style, then Claire dresses you in a series of coloured scarves to find out what colour palette suits you best.

Says Claire: 'People fall into one of two categories – warm or cool. Then there are additional categories within each section. Once your best colours are discovered you can then have a swatch of all the colours and shades that suit you.'

The shape analysis is about what styles you like and what suits your body shape. The bits of your body you dislike are disguised with various style tricks and parts of your body you do like are emphasised.

'The whole process enables you to develop a wardrobe of clothes that flatter you and make you feel great,' says Claire. 'No longer will you have to go to your wardrobe, look at the vast amount of clothes and say that you have nothing to wear.'

With the colour and style work wardrobe consultations done, each woman was dressed in an outfit that suits their body shape, colouring and importantly their job. Here are the results:

Rebecca Lewis Smith, 28 years old, Managing Director of an Internet marketing company.

Says Rebecca: 'Before I set up my own company I worked as an actress and a receptionist. Now that I represent my company and have to attend important meetings I always feel like I'm dressing like my 22 year old self rather than as a managing director. As a result I'm always in a bit of a panic about what to wear.'

Says Claire: 'Rebecca needs to project her professional self through the clothes she wears. At the moment she is struggling to feel as smart as she wants as she is stuck in a rut of wearing black, thinking that this gives her a smart image. In fact black only suits a small number of people and can make you look tired and pale. From the colour analysis Rebecca suits warm and muted tones which include warm rich shades and nothing too bright. She should wear matte gold or warm metal coloured jewellery and accessories and no black.

'Her body shape is semi-straight so her clothes must have some shaping at the waist rather than being big and baggy. There should be no emphasis around the top of the thigh and this is the widest point of her body so tops and jackets should fall above or below this point.

'Necklines should be oval or a soft V shape to flatter her face shape and as she has a full bust the neckline mustn't be too high.

'Her face shape is combination and so jewellery or anything patterned should be a mix of curves and angles. Rebecca should avoid anything round or geometric.

'Rebecca's wardrobe personality is natural/dramatic which means a soft look without too much detail. The dramatic element can be added with large accessories. Rebecca would naturally avoid anything frilly or fussy.

'At five feet ten inches Rebecca is tall and has a large scale so she should avoid any styles that are too twee or dainty.'

Claire chose a warm camel coloured trouser suit with a bird pattern blouse, flat brogues and a robust leather bag for Rebecca's new look. The wide leg trousers balance out her hips and the jacket finishes near her waist to draw attention away from her thighs. The burgundy coloured patterned blouse breaks up the camel to give Rebecca a professional look suitable for the boardroom.

Says Rebecca: 'I absolutely love this look and I would definitely wear this to attend a business meeting. My favourite part of the look is the brogue shoes. I cannot wear heels because of problems with my back and so I sometimes struggle to find a pair of smart flat shoes that can be worn with a suit, but these fit the bill!'

Rebecca wears: Camel suit – trousers, �85 and jacket, �95, Coast; bird print blouse, �59, Phase Eight; Brogue shoes, �149, NW3 at Jarrolds and bag, �85, Betty Jackson at Debenhams.

Hair: Styled by Lauren at Saks. Makeup: Laura at MAC in Jarrolds.

Maria Madge, 36, runs her own Chiropractor clinic in Reepham.

Says Maria: 'When I am at work I have no problem deciding what to wear because I have to wear a clinical coat, however, as I have set up my own business I'm finding that I am attending more business networking events and I cannot wear my white coat to go to them! I struggle to put together an outfit that says 'professional but also approachable'. I hate shopping for clothes as I'm only five feet tall and so I always find that trousers and the arms of tops and jackets are far too long. I also walk into a shop and don't know where to start as there seems so much choice. My wardrobe consists of mainly jeans and T.shirts, which are inappropriate for networking events when I want to look like I mean business.'

Says Claire: 'Maria is looking for a look that many people struggle with – smart/casual. If you know what colours and style flatter you, you will find that you will look smart in almost anything and it will become easier for Maria to shop for clothes as the choices available in the shops that suit her figure will reduce.

'In the colour and style consultation Maria discovered that she suits warm and muted tones like Rebecca and that she has a semi-straight body shape. Her wardrobe personality is dramatic/natural meaning that bold patterns and different colour ways will suit her best.

'As Maria is short she needs to buy clothes from petite ranges that have been made to smaller proportions so that she doesn't look swamped in her clothes.'

Claire chose a tribal patterned print dress in warm muted colours and layered with a purple faux leather biker jacket and knee high tan boots. The jacket was left underdone to create a vertical emphasis down her body to create the illusion of height and a belt emphasized Maria's small waist. The look was finished with a small bag that suits Maria's petite frame and a long necklace which helps elongate her body.

Says Maria: 'Wow! I love my new look. The sleeves on the dress are a little long but at last I have found an outfit that fits me perfectly and gives me the smart/casual look I craved. I'm looking forward to going shopping now. Knowing what colours and shapes suit me, and the fact that I should look in the petite collections has helped me hone in on the styles I should go for and hopefully the prospect of clothes shopping will no longer seem daunting.'

Maria wears: Tribal print dress, �40, Wallis Petite; purple faux leather biker jacket, �58, Wallis; belt, �58, Jarrolds; tights, �6, Debenhams; tan boots, �95, Jasper Conran at Debenhams; two tone bag, �55, NW3 and necklace, �12, Inspire at Debenhams.

Hair: Maria styled herself. Makeup: Laura at MAC in Jarrolds.

Julie Bishop, founder of employment website

Says Julie: 'Being a busy business woman and a mother I always have a battle when it comes to what to wear and so I always end up wearing black as it's an easy option.

'I want a look that says professional and smart but I also want to bring my personality through into what I wear. My dream would be to have a chic and effortless look and sometimes I wear heels to work, but then I realise I had forgotten that I'm taking my son to football and my heels sink into the mud!'

Says Claire: 'Julie's outlook on life and her colouring means that she suits warm bright colours but she needs to stay clear of black. Like the other two women Julie has a semi-straight shape so clothes need to fit around the waist.

'Julie's wardrobe personality is romantic/classic so tailored clothes with frills and ruffles in bright colours will suit her best.'

Claire chose a warm bright orange tunic worn over brown jeggings and layered with a practical yet smart brown parka. Julie's personality was brought through in the accessories with a pair of leopard print heels that could easily be changed for a pair of boots when she is looking after her children. The bright mustard leather bag clashes with the orange dress to give Julie an up to date colour clashing look.

Says Julie: 'I love the clashing of colours and the outfit is definitely something that I would wear for work. It's smart and yet practical and has little elements of fun – the look is exactly what I was looking for.'

Julie wears: Mustard leather bag, �110, Owen Barry at Jarrolds; Orange dress, �55, Betty Jackson at Debenhams; brown parka, �85, Betty Jackson at Debenhams; brown skinny trousers, �85, Oui at Jarrolds and leopard print shoes, �149, Hobbs.

Hair: Styled by Lauren at Saks on Orford Hill. Makeup: Laura at MAC in Jarrolds.

To find out how Claire can help you get the look that suits you contact her at or visit