How to get ahead in advertising (or any job)

One of the most difficult things to achieve in the workplace - especially for a first or second jobber in their mid-twenties - is a look that inspires respect and confidence, and not questions of the "are you here on work experience?" variety.

With this in mind, Melanie Rickey invited three guinea pigs to the Charles Worthington salon at the Dorchester Hotel for an image rethink, where Denis Robinson, the manager, set to work. Surprisingly he didn't go all trendy on us, but listened attentively to each person, as they described their lifestyle, work life, and what they wanted from a haircut. He also had a good feel of their heads. "The shape and placing of the crown, occipital and nape dictates the haircut, as much as face shape" he said. PHOTOGRAPHS BY TONY BUCKINGHAM

For further information, or to make an appointment call 0171 631 1370. Women's and men's haircuts cost from pounds 35 to pounds 125. To make an appointment with Denis Robinson call 0171 317 6321.

All Charles Worthington products are available exclusively from Boots.

Kate Peel, 25, graduated from LCU with a degree in Geography two years ago, and began working at the Type House, a computer training and consultation centre, where she is now the trainee manager.

Kate's hair was one length all over, and she was bored with the limitations of the ponytail/no ponytail choice every morning. In addition Kate wanted to look a little bit older, particularly when meeting new clients for work. Denis immediately understood her problem. "The funny thing about people with fine hair is that they always complain that it becomes heavier as it grows," he says. This is apparently because there is less to do with it. Kate was willing to go a lot shorter and said "do what you want", but Denis persuaded her to have shape cut into it instead. "She's got an oval face, so I can get away with anything." Denis razor cut the ends, cut an oval around the face to frame it, (he tried and failed to persuade her to have a fringe), and cut about two and a half inches from the length. "We're making the most of her hair," said Denis, "she's hidden behind a mask for too long." After cutting long layers into her hair to give it movement, Kate began to worry she wouldn't be able to tie it up, but Denis had already thought of that. "You can tie it up, twist it, whatever" he said. At the end of the cut he gave the hair more lift at the roots with Charles Worthington Big Hair spray.

The Verdict:

"Most people don't think I'm 25. It's OK on the phone, but face to face I feel I'm being judged on age and appearance. I let my hair grow long because I didn't know what to do with it. I really needed a haircut, and I trusted Denis to do the right thing. I didn't expect this, and at first I was a bit shocked that my face was exposed, but I'm getting used to it now. It feels professional, but I can also still tie it up, which is important. Until now I have tended to go home to Chester to get my hair cut, but I think it's time I found my own hairdresser in London."

Stephane Pendered, 28, joined Penningtons in the City of London as a trainee solicitor 16 months ago, after six years of higher education.

Stephane had let his hair grow out of the smart cut that he felt was necessary for work. He is not particularly bothered about a good hairdresser, because he doesn't like going to them full stop, something to do with his childhood, he claims. Stephane jumped at the chance of a make-over simply to see what could be achieved. "I always have an idea of what I want, but it never works out," he says. Suitably challenged, Denis had a close look at the shape of Stephane's head. "The most important thing with a man's cut is to ensure it works with the shape, if it goes against that, it looks unnatural. Stephane's crown is quite flat, so I will tailor the hair to counteract that." He took the weight off the ends, tidied up the nape, and kept the length on top, because Stephane is used to it. When asked what products he uses Stephane made the point that gel and wax make his hands sticky when he runs his hand through his hair. Denis advised a light gel from the Charles Worthington Impact range. "Men can't be as adventurous as women. So the key thing with Stephane is a smart, corporate image that can be messed up for the weekends to look more relaxed."

The Verdict:

"Image is very important at work. I found it very easy to adjust to the City dress codes, but my hair was more difficult. It's floppy and gets in the way, which is not appropriate in a law firm. Hair is expected to be short and neat. I usually go to a local barber who charges pounds 8-pounds 10, and cuts it in 20 minutes. Denis cut it very well though, and back at work people have commented on how well I look. They don't realise I've had it cut, because it looks natural, which is excellent. There's only so much you can do with hair like mine and I'm very pleased with it."

Gaelle Paul, 25, graduated from Manchester University with a French and Spanish degree two years ago and began her career in corporate PR. In January she moved to WAT PR, which deals primarily with fashion clients.

Gaelle wanted a haircut that would be suitable for the fashionable dress codes in her new work place, but more importantly she felt it was time to develop her own identity and be more "herself". The first thing Denis said was "the back has got to go," and he set to work bringing the hair in line with her jaw. Denis then razor cut the hair to give it a soft rather than blunt bobbed look, and cut into it to take the weight from it. "Gaelle has got a lot of hair and it's so thick that she tends to squash it behind her ears. I'm lifting her overall image by exposing her neck," he says. He finished the haircut off with Charles Worthington Seriously Shiny Silkening Serum, which flattens thick hair and smoothes the effects of the razor cutting.

The Verdict: "My first job in business to business PR was very conservative. Grey suits, smart shoes, and a basic bob were the order of the day. I had to dress like that to be taken seriously. This haircut is perfect for my new job. It will be easier to get dressed now, because I can wear the clothes I like both to work and out afterwards. I have always found it difficult to get the right haircut, and find the right hairdresser - and it's so important! I usually end up looking like Cleopatra, but this is exactly what I wanted, I feel smart."

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