Friday, April 11, 2014

Learn to be your own wardrobe consultant

If you are in the market to select a image/ wardrobe consultant to help you with your wardrobe issues, please bear in mind the following three points:

1. Comfortable & inspired

You have to feel comfortable & inspired by the person you hire.

If you havent met them, after reviewing their website or Facebook page, have a coffee with them. In effect, you are interviewing them. 

At this session, you can ask questions & they can outline what they offer and together you can pick what's suitable for your specific needs.

Services tend to be quite standard & can be offered singlely or as packages, for a single person or for groups (mum, best friends etc).

The services can include occasion shopping, seasonal wardrobe top up, a wardrobe cull, identifying what flatters you (styles and/or colours), professional image tips, glamour/photography looks, hair & beauty tips etc. The better consultants will make you feel excited but calm about working with them. It will feel easy to select what suits your style and budget. 

All reputable consultant will offer the coffee chat as a complimentary part of the service.  

2. Planning 

Unless you are shopping for a very specific occasion, be very wary of any image/wardrobe consultant who offers you a package which involves more time shopping & less time planning/culling.

Coming away with bags of new clothes, without specific & detailed planning based on what is in your wardrobe at the moment, is destined wardrobe disaster. In this case I can 100% guarantee you that you will wear 80% of what you bought in that spree 20% of the time. 

If the consultant doesnt do the specific/detailed planning with you or suggest very clearly that shopping without that planning is of limited value, you are about to waste serious money. 

3. Communication

I'm going to be blunt here. 
Some wardrobe/image consultants cant communicate to save their lives.  Yes they can speak English well and they can style & they know when a look works and when it doesnt.

But here are the really critical practical applications: 

a) They cant explain WHY a look/colour works and WHY it doesnt. 

They cant explain to you why the lines on this particular garment work well for you & why the lines on that particular garment arent working for you. A good image consultant will TEACH you what lines to look for and what lines to avoid for your height & body shape. 

b) They cant show you which colours suit you, in the store, without putting you through their formal colour analysis (at additional cost) off site. A good image consultant can literally TEACH you your best colours in the store by playing with garments on hangers. They can give you the swatches without putting you through the formal colour analysis and only charge you the cost of those swatches. 

You see, without being TAUGHT to understand your colours, merely holding those swatches up every time you like a garment can get quite painful. When you understand your colours, you can walk into a store & automatically know 95% of the stories to avoid without holding up the swatch book. If you are TAUGHT correctly, it becomes innate. A good image consultant will TEACH you so you can stand on your own two feet.    

The only way to get real value for money with an image/style session is if the person you have hired has a command of English that can explain WHY, each step of the way.
Why is code for "Please explain in what way specifically this works or doesnt". Why is code for the consultant is articulate.

Why that colour works for you
Why that colour doesnt work for you
What it is about that hemline's placement that works
What it is about that sleeve shape that doesnt work
What it is about the silhouette that works
What it is about the fabric that works (body, texture, shine etc)
Why that waist line works for you
Why the placement of those darts doesnt work for you
Why those zips are not your best friend


Example 1

An image consultant may put up photos of clients which show one client with a complexion which was "clear" versus another client with a complexion which was "muted".

[The point of this is that the clear (high contrast) client looks best in clear shades while the muted (low contrast) client looks best in muted shades.]

Firstly, no explanation accompanies the photos. 
Secondly, a reader may comment that she doesn't understand "muted".

The image consultant may respond with something along the lines of "Clear is clear, muted is not clear or bright but soft". 

I don't consider this a value for money answer. I would expect better. It is merely parroting the jargon without explaining it. 

Example 2

An image consultant may state that this isnt the most flattering hem length for the Duchess.  

If the only explanation they give is that hemlines which are "in no man's land" or "neither here nor there" are not flattering, I would say that doesn't suffice. 

Nor would an explanation which stated that "longer hemlines make legs look shorter". This just isnt true even as a general statement. 

The real reason this isnt technically flattering is because the hemline cuts at the widest point of her calves. However for completeness, because she is so slim/tall, it isnt a real issue in style terms, in this case.  

Example 3

This example is what prompted this post. This one is a real life example.

Here are descriptions of two image/colour/style courses, as shown in the local community college brochure. Both paragraphs are written by the respective teachers.  

Course A is a bit more expensive than Course B. 

Which would you choose? 

Cost aside, Course A's description runs rings around Course B. Notice how the wording of A is articulate, precise, informative and reasonably clear? In short, it makes sense & it flows logically.

The wording in Course B is all over the shop (pun intended). Not only does it lack stucture (intro, body, punchline) but the sentences arent even complete. I wouldnt expect her to be able to TEACH me anything, let alone image consulting. 


Unless the image consultant TEACHES you to be your own image consultant, how are you ever going to stand on your own two feet? You will literally need them every time you spring clean or shop and that's impractical, costly & plain silly.

If you dont want to hear this information, you just let them know. But being offered this information is what distinguishes the great image consultants from the rest. 

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