I honestly believe I have the best job in the world. I love what I do and feel so blessed to be able to do it each day. There are, however, some downsides to being an image consultant. I am often asked for my advice and opinions when I’m out and about.
I find this particularly fascinating because it’s people who don’t know me or my occupation doing the asking. What is really fascinating is that oftentimes, people don’t really want to my honest opinion — no matter how much they insist they do. It’s not as though I deliver my thoughts a la Simon Cowell. Because of my training and the fact that I do this every day, I don’t look at image in a personal way. It’s much more scientific than that. I don’t wonder what someone was thinking when they put themselves together, but I may think of better choices they could make based on their physical attributes.
As an innate people-person and someone with years of management experience, I always try to make sure to deliver compliments along with my suggestions for change. So instead of saying, “You would look better in more muted colors,” I might say, “It’s great that you’re willing to wear color, so many people aren’t. Based on your personal coloring, a better choice would be softer colors — they will enhance your natural attributes and be a seamless extension of you.”
No matter how nicely and honestly I answer questions, I still have people who want to convince me that I’m wrong and they are right. At a local office supply store, a patron stopped me to ask if I thought she should purchase a briefcase that was on clearance. The first thing I said was that I’m pretty particular and don’t consider price to be the deciding factor. She pressed me for an answer, and I said I didn’t think it was a good deal because it was a bit beat up (the reason it was on clearance) and was a manmade synthetic. I explained that she could probably find a leather bag in new condition for the same price at a discount store. She then proceeded to attempt to convince me it was a good deal.
When asked, I offer my advice based on years of study and experience; it’s not going to be right for every person every time. As individuals, we have an idea of what’s important to us and how we want to be perceived. We know if we’re attention-getters or wallflowers. We may be more into function than fashion. Hopefully, we know our own comfort levels and insecurities. Whether you’re on the bleeding edge of fashion or drawn to a more traditional look, you can still be in style if you follow these suggestions.
Think it through
Take 15 minutes and think about how you want to be perceived. Professional, credible, sexy, polished — what do you want others to think when they see you? Once you are sure of your answer, take the time to think about what you’ve been doing in the past. If you want people to think you’re professional, but you’re wearing tightly fitting and low cut clothing, are you sending the right signals? Maybe you want others to think you’re put together and polished; then you want to make sure you pay attention to all of the details. Are your shoes polished? Are your nails groomed? Is your bag or briefcase in good condition? The devil is in the details.
Be true to yourself
You have to feel comfortable with yourself and your image. Don’t let the media, your friends or what’s in vogue make you think you should follow the crowd. A woman who is sure of herself is irresistible. Your image should reflect your personality and values.
Seriously, nothing is more unattractive than a lack of confidence. Once you make the decision to leave the house, make sure to leave your insecurities at the front door. Refrain from asking others what they think of your hair, clothes, shoes or whatever you may be questioning. Hold you head high and tell yourself you’re starting a trend if you must, but never apologize for it.
It may not seem fair, but we are an image-driven society. We judge each other quickly and constantly, and we hold on to our perceptions for a long time. The good news is that you are able to control other people’s perception of you, and perception is reality. If you take the time to think it through, are consistently true to yourself and own it, you are sure to project the image of a woman who feels good about herself. You don’t need to have any special training to know that’s a feeling we all want to have.