Hiring an Image Consultant

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Monday 11th October 2010
In this article
  • What does an image consultant do?
  • Why would you need one?
  • How to find a good consultant.
  • Tips for a successful consultation.
Hiring an Image Consultant

Image can be pretty important. SharpMen are judged every day on their appearance and "look." The image you present to colleagues, managers and your boss can translate into a fast track — if you know how to present yourself. But do you know how? If not, an image consultant can help. That’s where these SharpGrooming tips come in:

What Does an Image Consultant Do?

Basically, an image consultant helps you dress and groom yourself in a way that will accentuate your strong points and present a confident and stylish image. He or she has an understanding of colors, fabrics, dress requirements, trends in fashion and hair and skin care. A good consultant should combine these skills to "design" a look and plan a wardrobe for you aimed at making the world sit up and pay attention.

Why Would You Need One?

Good question. Hiring any consultant will cost you money, so why bother paying for something you should be able to do yourself? Well, consider this: do you do your own taxes? Many SharpMen do. Of course, every now and again, even the most confident preparer turns to a professional with a sticky question. In fact, it often turns out that getting professional advice clues you into tax savings you had never considered!

Image preparation works the same way. Sometimes it’s worth paying for a professional opinion. In fact, quite often your image consultant will clue you in on flattering attire that you had never considered (and stop you from wearing things that you never realized were unflattering). Aside from that, you may want to consider enlisting the help of an image consultant because:

  • You’ve heard that some styles flatter different body types and some colors flatter different skin and hair colors, and you’d like to know what looks "best" on you.
  • You know your style of dress is out of date but you’re not sure how to update it.
  • You look much younger than you are and find that people don't take you seriously as a result. You’d like to change your image to match your age.
  • You’ve heard the saying "Dress for the job you want," but don’t know where to start.
  • Your work colleague always seems to wear just the right thing for every occasion and you want to know what his secret is.
  • You feel you must present a professional, corporate image but don't know how. Alternatively, you want to present a professional image in a business casual environment, but don’t know how.
  • You want to shop for the best quality clothing but don't know where to start, or where to get quality within your budget.
  • You have a hugely important meeting/interview/function coming up and you want to look your absolute best.

If any of these considerations ring true for you, consider engaging an image consultant. Not sure how much you’ll have to shell out or where to find one? Read on:

Will You Have to Break the Bank?

Oddly enough, no. Sure, there are super-pricey image consultants out there, but you’ll also find plenty of "normal people’s" consultants in all area codes. In fact, many image consultants also work at different fee levels with their clients. Very often you’ll have a choice of the "full enchilada" package (assessments, shopping, training, etc.), or simply the color assessment and an hourly fee for having the consultant go shopping with you or go through your existing wardrobe. In other words, hiring an image consultant won’t be so expensive that you won’t have any cash to spend on your "new image."

Also realize that hiring an image consultant won’t necessarily require you to spring for a whole new wardrobe. If you prefer, your consultant will go through your existing collection of duds, throw out (or give away) the items that don’t flatter you and advise you to sparingly add a few items that will complement and update the clothing you already own.

How to Find a Good Consultant

Not all consultants are made equal. For this reason we advise taking the extra time to find the one that’s right for you:

Search a reliable directory. The Association of Image Consultants International (http://www.aici.org/) is a good starting point. The association’s Web site will give you a list of certified consultants. "Certified" means that each consultant must meet certain professional standards set down by the organization — important in a largely unregulated industry.

Talk to more than one. Plan to call more than one consultant. Spend some time talking to each consultant over the phone. Do you feel comfortable with him or her? Establishing a rapport with a potential consultant is important — you must be comfortable with the person entrusted with your all-important image.

Ask for and check references. It is acceptable to ask for references and check them. A reputable consultant will be happy (and proud) to list some past clients who will vouch for his or her good work.

Ask about work methods. Be wary of the consultant who likes to do "complete makeovers." That is not what you want. A good consultant should build on the attributes you already have and mold your image around that — not change you completely.

Tips for a Successful Consultation

Most consultants charge their clients an hourly fee. For this reason, understanding the scope of services and "preparing" for your time with your consultant is crucial to getting the best value for your money. Before engaging or seeing your consultant, consider the following:

Get everything in writing. It’s always a good idea to get the hourly fee and the estimate of required hours in writing before you start the consultation. After all, better safe than sorry.

Know what you want. It’s also important to think about what you’d like to achieve before you meet with or even talk to a potential consultant. Try to condense your goals down to "I’d like to look better in my clothing" or "I’m trying to develop a more professional image." In other words, how are you planning to use your "new image?" Take another look at the list above as a guideline.

Be prepared for criticism. Realize that engaging an image consultant will necessarily require you to re-examine your existing "look" and possibly even receive some criticism. Don’t take it personally.

Don't resist change. Resisting change is natural, but since you’re paying for this advice, consider taking it.

Take the video option. Many consultants offer their clients the option of making a video of the consultation. Do it. It’ll be a great resource now and in the future.

Seek a second opinion. If you find that you are uncomfortable with the "look" recommended by your image consultant, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. Consultations and advice regarding what looks "best" are always subjective. Make sure you agree with their "best" before signing off on the goods, or on your look.

Store the advice. While you may only meet with your image consultant once or twice, the advice should last must longer. Maximize on your meeting by listening carefully and taking notes or recording the conversation for future reference. You’ll find that your consultant’s tips on color, style, skin care and more will be useful for many years to come.

This article last updated on Wednesday 13th October 2010
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