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Sunday, August 29, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Job Market

Dress to impress a key to success, says Trump exec

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — It's common knowledge among first-time job hunters to show up to an interview in a basic, understated suit, but not everyone knows what to wear when looking for a promotion or a higher-level position within a company.

"After you get your entry-level job with that paycheck, take some of that money and invest in your No. 2 interview suit and then No. 3," advises Carolyn Kepcher, executive vice president of The Trump Organization and one of Donald Trump's advisers on "The Apprentice."

"Always try to dress a step ahead. The better you look, the more confident you are," she says.

Kepcher, who is featured in Cosmopolitan's special issue, Cosmopolitan Style, wearing sexy-yet-tasteful eveningwear by Tufi Duek and Dolce & Gabbana, says it's important to always look classy, no matter what the occasion is.

"Everything has to be appropriate but throw in a little color and a little personality. Me, personally, I'd walk in wearing a red dress with a red blazer and a higher-heel shoe," she says. "A little flair shows confidence. It shows a little experience."

It also pays to pay attention to detail.

"If someone walks in with a Louis Vuitton 'set' with a wallet and a bag, it sort of sets her apart. It says you've made it," says the chief operating officer of Trump National Golf Clubs. But again, she stresses the appropriateness of a look. "If that same girl had walked in at 18, you'd know that that Louis Vuitton was a gift!"

Interview outfits are very important, Kepcher says, because besides the initial "Hello," clothing is what forms a first impression. It's also important, though, not to let your style slide after winning a job, especially if you want to move up that company's ladder.

She says at casting calls for "The Apprentice," candidates have shown up in T-shirts with goofy faces and sayings while others go the more traditional route. The T-shirt wearers get attention but then she wonders, "How seriously can I take this guy?" A man in a tie, however, is showing respect to a potential employer.

Kepcher suggests taking this "appropriateness test" before walking out the door for an interview or an important meeting with your boss:

"If you look in the mirror and your conscience at first says 'Maybe,' don't stand there trying to justify it. Change, otherwise you'll regret it."

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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