- By Clair Jones
Could your outdated appearance be the reason you aren’t landing a job? It’s possible.
Older applicants — women and men — can boost their chances of getting hired by updating their grooming, wardrobe and glasses. Here are some easy, practical tweaks to modernize your look in 2015:
Groom Yourself for Success
The old adage of being “groomed” for a promotion exists for a reason.
(MORE: The New Job-Interview Dress Code)
Women who are job hunting might want to try a fresh hairstyle or possibly cover gray hairs. Ideally, it’s best to make an appointment with a trained stylist who can advise you on a cut and color that flatters your face shape and skin tone. But if you’re on a budget, you could color your hair at home.
If you’d rather keep your locks au naturel, though, there’s never been a better time to have stunning gray hair. More and more women celebs are aging gracefully and ditching their dye jobs. Popular brands of hair color now have lines for the unique needs of mature hair; some contain pigments that can add luster and depth to gray.
For men, a new hairstyle and color can be a plus in job interviews, too.
While a bit of silver can be flattering, many men are opting for a more gradual color blend these days, according to The Wall Street Journal. If a color change isn’t your thing, try a more modern hairstyle; check out this gallery of male celebs over 50 for inspiration.
Another tip for men: trim your eyebrows, ear hair and nose hair. If you are unsure how, ask your barber or hairstylist to do it the next time you get your haircut. Untamed hair can be distracting and give the impression that you’re either not aware of your appearance or don’t care about looking your best. There’s no excuse for “wizard brows” at any age.
A quick way for women and men to shave years off of their appearance is through teeth whitening. As we grow older, our teeth yellow, even if we avoid coffee, cigarettes and other substances likely to stain our pearly whites.
(MORE: What to Wear to Ace Your Job Interview)
Using a whitening toothpaste or over-the-counter whitening strips can be effective when used regularly. For faster results, invest in a professional whitening treatment from your dentist.
For details on teeth whitening methods, effectiveness and cost, consult this WebMD guide.
Make Your Outfit Pop
Adding a splash of color or a tasteful pattern to your wardrobe can instantly make you more style-savvy.
Bright colors and exciting patterns are very much in style for 2015, as was recently shown at New York Fashion Week. Women and men can pull off this look. The key is tempering your dramatic pieces with classic, conservative office wear and making sure the material is high quality.
Women might pair a bright silk camisole with a classic black suit or simply add a bright scarf or necklace to bring personal flair to their outfits. Alternatively, try a bold purse or pump. Style Expert Bridgette Raes gives some great tips for wearing color at work in this article.
(MORE: How Older Job Seekers Can Look Sharp)
Women can also play with different patterns and textures to add pizzazz to their interview outfit. While you want to avoid large, loud patterns (they can take the focus off of you), a low-key patterned blazer or a classy pair of textured tights can make you look more youthful when paired with more traditional favorites.
Men might try choosing a fun, colored tie (no neon colors, cartoon characters or distracting patterns) to accompany their classic suit or menswear separates. Another suggestion: a non-traditional color of dress shirt, like a creamy yellow or peach. Just make sure to only choose one item of interest; pairing a dramatic tie with a colored shirt can be overpowering.
A nice contrast-collar shirt can also be a great option if you are shy about adding color.
Patterns and textured fabrics like tweed and plaid can work well on mature men, when used to accent a classic look, too. Just mix patterns wisely, as illustrated in this Patterns 101 piece from the men’s fashion blog, Effortlessgent.com.
Invest in Tailoring
Many attractive women and men over 50 make the mistake of hiding in baggy, outdated clothing because they aren’t sure how to accentuate their strengths and mask their weaknesses.
If your existing wardrobe is salvageable, visit a skilled tailor to reinvent your look. Men will look ten pounds lighter in a tailored suit or sweater and fashionable over-50 women swear by tailoring everything from businesswear to jeans.
Give Your Eyewear a New Look
If you’ve had your current eyeglass frames for longer than five years, it’s probably time to treat yourself to a more modern pair. New frames can be a fashionable way to offer a hint of your personality and polish your interview look.
If you want to appear a little more youthful, try pushing your limits with a playful color or pattern. For instance, it’s often recommended that people with blue eyes choose a blue-tinted frame. You can also play around with details like a decorative hinge. Just don’t go too crazy, or you’ll run the risk of looking unprofessional.
With convenient, inexpensive sites like Zenni Optical and 39 Dollar Glasses, you can afford to have a few different pairs of glasses to alternate, depending on your mood.
Many sites now have a wide selection of bifocals at a fraction of what you’d pay at the optometrist, and online retailers like Warby Parker even have a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy if you don’t like your new frames when they arrive.
Here is a recent Wall Street Journal guide for men, with before and after eyeglass pictures. And here is a guide for women from Judi Boomergirl, on choosing the best glasses for your face shape.
The way you look also affects how you feel in your own skin. So give your interview attire the same attention you would your resumé. With these simple tweaks, you can broadcast a message to your prospective employer that you are relevant and know how to show it.
Clair Jones is a freelance journalist who loves to write about career and business trends, lifestyle advice, technology and travel. Keep in touch with Clair on Google+ and Twitter.