Image Consulting | The Art of Teaching Soft Skills
Normally, I would start by defining what an image consultant is, but because there are so many terms that have become entangled with 'Image Consulting' I will address this question in a later segment. First, let us start with a different question.
A man walked into a bar that he has never been to before. Immediately, he sees three attractive women that he would like to meet. Each one is in different areas of the room. Typically, he is shy in these situations, but tonight, he is feeling a bit randy. As he starts his approach, he notices how well the young ladies are dressed. He looks down at his choice of outfit and begins to feel insecure. His mind starts to wander and think about all of the things that the young ladies may not like. Still unsure and somewhat unconfident, he decides to make a go of it. Who should he have talked to first?
Pickup Artist (PUA) | Mystery of The Game
At this point, you may be thinking that this article is about picking up women you meet in a bar. I assure you that it is not. It is about attraction and how an Image Consultant can help you develop it. So, what does a Pickup Artist have in common with an Image Consultant, you may ask? I will be happy to explain.
August 6, 2007, VH1 released a dating themed reality television contest named The Pickup Artist. The show by hosted by a Pickup Artist who calls himself Mystery (Real name: Erik von Markovik). At first glance, the concept seemed like a sleazy process for teaching socially awkward men to become the ultimate Pickup Artist, but interestingly enough, that was very far from the truth. Actually, Mystery was tutoring these guys to feel comfortable in their own skin. During the eight episodes, the contestants learned about body language, storytelling, wardrobe selection, grooming, hygiene, and self-confidence. The finale was, of course, seeing who can get a beautiful girl to go out with them by using all that they learned from their lessons.
Although most of us have some type of strategy when we approach a romantic interest, many people found the concept of the show misogynistic. In some people's minds, the thought that one man was teaching other men how to "pickup" women was wrong, yet many of us learn how to approach women from our fathers, uncles, brothers, and friends. The guys that Mystery was coaching were insecure, shy, and downright scared to talk to a woman. By the end of the show, most of them had conquered that fear. They were adept at how to start and hold a conversation in a variety of social settings, how to use body language to build comfort, trust, and a level self -esteem they would have never reached without this opportunity. Mystery helped them develop a new image, one that will benefit them for years to come. Even though, the Pickup Artist scene has received a bad wrap there has come some benefit of the concept. People have built self-worth, self-esteem, attraction, and confidence. This core idea is exactly what Image Consulting is about.
The Law of Attraction | Warning: This is going to get a little deep
In any situation where you are engaging another individual positively, you are hoping to bring about a high level of attraction. In a job interview, sales conference, social gathering, or blind date, you are hoping that you and the other person have enough in common to entitle a second interaction. Is there an actual science associated with human attraction?
An attraction is the highest form of physical recognition. Interpersonally, there are different levels of attraction, but without a connection, there can not be a bond made. Whether it is coworkers, associates, friends, or lovers, without some form of attraction, the relationship is probably doomed.
This has led many people to ask, "is there a law of attraction?" Is there a set of rules we can follow, and if we follow them, can we attract anyone and anything that we want to attract?
Rhonda Byrne, in her 2006 film "The Secret", spoke of her philosophy where if you think positive thoughts, you will generate positive experiences into your life and vice-versa.
Like attracts like, and Thoughts become things!
These are the concepts of her movie and book but have first come from ancient Greek philosophers. Since that time, we have uncovered quite a bit about science, gravity, magnetism, and thought. So, if this is an older way of thinking, can we incorporate what we know now with the idea and concepts of Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle to understand "the Law of Attraction".
Rhonda Byrne's "Law of Attraction", is based on the idea is that your thoughts become things or matter. Since our thoughts become stored in our brains, that should mean that our brains would become denser over time, but instead, our brain density remains constant, and its size shrinks as we get older. The other possibility is that the matter created by our thoughts exist outside of our brain and therefore is no longer in our possession.
I like to think we store a reservoir of our emotional energy gained through daily experiences in the form of potential energy. It is collected inside our DNA and RNA for future use or expansion of offspring. This is possibly how our thoughts become things. Past down from parent to child, generation after generation.
DNA and RNA represent our atoms, and since the body has a mass, poles, and state of velocity, we are host to a field of energy. We are a complex smaller version of planets. We are surrounded by a gravitational field, just like the earth. The more experiences you have, whether positive or negative, your potential energy will increase in mass, density, and proximity, thereby increasing its gravitational field. This field is a part of who you are. Some may call it an aura or life force, and it attracts smaller, less experienced entities.
On the other hand, a magnetic field is different. With a magnetic field, you are attracting a counter-balance of what you are putting out and pushing away traits that are too similar. This is why we have the social phenomenon, "Opposites attract."
Magnetism is not about the mass or density of an entity but the direction, velocity, and proximity of its charged particles. Magnetism is usually associated with high functioning individuals in society. Actors, Musicians, Models, and Athletes, but everyone has a magnetic field. Traditional magnets are made of iron, nickel, or cobalt. Every cell in red blood cell in the human body has iron in it. We are all giant magnets.
Since direction, velocity, and proximity are necessary for magnetism, In the case of a human, that would be equal to an individual being active and very focused. Magnetism is a field made of kinetic energy.
Every planetary and human body has a gravitational and magnetic field surrounding it. The strength of these fields at any given point is proportional to the planetary body mass, direction, proximity, and velocity. Within human existence, gravitational and magnetic fields represent our ambition and performance.
This is the reason you may find someone who you think is less attractive or not very nice, having little resistance in attracting romantic interest.
These individuals usually have high self-esteem and are involved in some extracurricular activity, or at least that what they lead you to believe.
By now, you are probably asking, what does this have to do with Image Consulting. I have not forgotten. I will get to that soon.
An Examination of the Words, Image & Consultant
Before I define the phrase Image Consultant, I want to make sure we have an understanding of the root words.
Image | What is it, and why does it matter?
Merriam-webster.com defines 'Image'(noun) as
a visual representation of something.
a mental picture or impression of something
a popular conception
By these definitions, 'Image' would have to include more than just your choice of clothes. It is what you show the world. It is what people remember about you after being around you and interacting with you. It is a common perception a group of individuals would agree on about you.
The way you stand. The way you walk. The way you wear your hair. How you talk. Your manners at a dinner table. The way that you smell. Your use of language. Your ability to listen and empathize. How well you hold eye contact and the way that you dress. Many factors make up your image.
The importance of your image highlights the fact that people judge each other. Everyone will use a combination of your characteristics, traits, skills, and prejudgments to create a persona of you. That persona will have a foundation of biases, stereotypes, and prejudices first; then, depending on your interaction, the structure will change.
No matter what steps you take to make people view you in a particular way, some of them will not change their perception of you. That persona is fixed in their mind. This is the reason you should never adjust your image to meet someone else ideals, but rather adjust to represent your ideals.
Consultant | What consultants do?
Dictionary.cambridge.org defines a Consultant (noun) as, "someone who is paid to give expert advice or training on a particular subject." I like this definition because it does not stop at just giving advice. It goes the extra mile to provide training.
I believe a consultant to be someone who will work with you to understand and help you grow in a given area or as a person. They have experience and skill which they share with you to guide you to a new level of independence.
Consultants are hired to provide information to solve clients' problems. They ask questions to pinpoint the greatest area of concern then make a recommendation based on the feedback. The consultant will then work together with the client to implement a solution. Once a solution is identified, the client must understand the skills used and cultivate the confidence to do it on their own. That is when the consultant works with the client over time to reinforce new behaviors and habits. Now the client can confront similar issues without guidance.
What is an Image Consultant?
An Image Consultant is a paid professional who advises their client on how to develop an attractive persona incorporating the following characteristics, habits, traits, and skills: Verbal Communication (Phonetics, Phonology, Pragmatics, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics), Nonverbal Communication (Eye Contact, Facial Expressions, Gestures, Posture, Body Language [Kinesics], Distance [Proxemics], Paralanguage, Touch [Haptics], Time [Chronemics], Oculesics), Appearance (Fashion, Style, Wardrobe, Grooming, Makeup, Gender Representation), Socializing ( Behavior Modification, Daily Hygiene Routine, Etiquette, Manners, Mannerism, First Impressions, and Lasting Impressions)
Most Image Consultants specialize in a particular niche.
There are very few Image Consultants skilled and knowledgable enough to take on all aspects of a person's image.
Their goal is to invent a "New You." It is similar to crafting something from its' rawist form into a timeless work of art.
Impressions | Can an Image Consultant help you make a great impression?
Scientists have said that it takes 7 seconds for most people to form a first opinion about someone and less than 1/10th of a second to judge their initial facial expression. During that time, we choose if we are going to trust them or if we find them attractive, or if we think they will responsibly complete tasks.
First impressions are influenced most by nonverbal communication and body language. Research suggests that body language and facial cues have the most substantial impacts on first impressions. So, in practice, we decide a large part of our opinion about someone before they even open their mouth.
Clothing, hairstyles, accessories, and other features of a person’s visible appearance have a seemingly more insignificant weight on first impressions.
5 Ways to Create a Good First Impression
Dress to impress.
Make eye contact, especially when speaking, but do not stare.
Smile (we search for smiles and notice them at great distances).
Use a firm handshake.
Be original and polite.
7 Ways to Create a Better First Impression
Compliment the other person if it seems appropriate.
Fluctuate your voice, not to sound monotone.
Use appropriate non-verbal gestures and language.
Control your posture. Make sure to stand or sit up straight.
Use the same words or synonyms to match the other person's vocabulary (remember, we prefer people who are similar to us).
Remember, no one is perfect, not even you.
Be confident, be yourself, and do not pretend to be someone you are not.
9 of the Best Ways to Create a First Impression
You are talking to a human. Show interest in the people you meet.
Make it about them. Do not just talk about yourself.
Tell them why you enjoy talking to them.
Inspire confidence in your abilities
Be friendly, approachable, and likable.
Have a meaningful conversation.
Express gratitude, shake their hand and leave.
Begin with the end in mind
Halo Effect | How to make your First Impression attract more positive experiences?
The Halo Effect is the trend of using our positive First Impression of a person, company, brand, or product to make an overall positive assumption about the entity.
An example of this cognitive bias is, "He is handsome therefore he must also be smart" The perceptions of a single trait are carried over to other aspects of that person even if they have revealed those traits.
However, this effect does not just affect our perceptions of people based on their attractiveness. It can comprise other traits as well; People who are overweight, for example, may be seen as lazy.
It promotes rapid declarations, even if a prejudiced one.
The term is from religious art when a person is judged 'good' or 'saintly' by portraying them with a heavenly light called a halo around their head.
When you chose only to see the one thing this person was good at instead of objectively observing all of their characteristics independently, you are casting them in a similar light.
A good Image Consultant can teach you how to use this phenomenon for your benefit, a great one can teach you how to make it happen.
The Primacy Effect | How to make your First Impression a Lasting Impression?
After most people create a first impression during a face to face encounter, their original judgment tends to persist even if confronted with verified information contradictory with the initial perception observed. This is known as the Primacy Effect, Also called the law of primacy (or principle of primacy).
Studies show the first obtained information is weighted greater in the mind than the later information. Some suggest that the initial information shapes the meaning of later information.
This effect can occur in both formal learning situations and social contexts.
A Lasting Impression
The two places to find evidence of a lasting impression is in a history book and the way people talk about you when you are not in the room. The memory may be a good one or bad. Most of us do not want the latter. What are some of the things we can do to a positive lasting impression? 14 ways to make a lasting impression.
Remember and use their name at least 3 times during your conversation.
Tell a joke that makes them laugh in a charming and funny kinda way.
Smile and keep eye contact for at least the first 3-5 seconds from the beginning of the conversation or introduction.
If it is an appropriate situation to shake hands, make it a firm handshake about 3 seconds long while keeping eye contact.
If they are showing signs of distress or confusion, ask how you can help them.
Be Real, Be Genuine, Be Authentic, Be Honest, Be Realistic, Be Respectable, Be Reliable, Be Sincere, Be Modest, Be Unassuming, Be You
If the person you are speaking with says or does something funny, smart, clever, interesting, or brave, Give A Compliment.
Add value or utility to the conversation or project.
Listen first, then ask questions.
Introduce yourself before being introduced.
Show Appreciation by Saying ‘Thank You’
If you say you're are going to do something, say it like you mean it and do what you say you're going to do.
Find some way to make history.
Why Fashion Stylists, Wardrobe Stylists, and Personal Shoppers are not Image Consultants?
All of these professions pick outfits for their 'subject' to wear. All of them decide what looks best on them. All of them can teach the 'subject' how to do it for themselves, but none are specifically hired to do that.
Fashion Stylist - "is a professional who coordinates all aspects of a person’s visual aesthetic to make them look as fashionable and appealing as possible." (Masterclass.com) Fashion stylists are usually hired by celebrities, musicians, fashion houses, and Hollywood A-listers to construct an outfit (or series of outfits) or look for an event (or series of events) like published editorial features, print or television advertising campaigns, music videos, concert performances, and any public appearances. In most cases, they are a part of a larger team. Sometimes they only focus on the clothes the subject wears while makeup and hair are styled by someone else. Fashion Stylists do not typically teach their clients how to do this for themselves.
Wardrobe Stylist (Personal Stylist) - are the same as Fashion Stylist, but they focus on a personal wardrobe rather than a single event. A wardrobe stylist is hired to come to your house and review the clothes you have, then determine what you need. Typically, they will provide you with a list of items that you need (based on what was removed or you did not have), and it will be up to you to purchase them. Some wardrobe stylist will take it a step further.
Personal Shoppers - go out and purchase the clothes for you. In most cases, you will give them a budget, and they will bring back a selection of clothing for you to choose from. Normally, you reimburse them for the amount spent plus their fee, but in some cases, they may require you to provide the money upfront before they acquire the clothing. Some wardrobe stylists (personal stylists) will include personal shopping in their services, but it depends on their availability to capital.
With all of these three professions, their primary responsibility is to clothe you. They are focused on what you are wearing, and in some cases, how you are groomed. They are providing a service. They do it for you, and most will not teach you to do it for yourself.
What does an Image Consultant do, exactly?
An image consultant will
Talk to you to find out your goals. They will ask what is important to you about your image. What do you want to accomplish? Al this is to determine the extent and degree of change that you are looking for.
Go through your wardrobe. They will catalog your shirts, pants, shoes, and accessories to determine what needs to be added, given away, and kept.
They will help you develop a style. What is the point of having clothes in your wardrobe but not understanding how to blend them? What shirt goes with what pants. Do I wear socks that match my shirt or my tie? Your Image Consultant will put together a style strategy for you to follow.
Help you develop new skills. Image Consulting is the art of teaching soft skills. They are not going to give you a degree or accredited certificate. They focus on the skills that a school may not have given you. Skills like grooming, hygiene, style, posture, usage of voice, and etiquette are not skills taught in major colleges or universities.
Help you feel more confident about yourself. An Image Consultant does not just help you with your clothing choices. They help you be more comfortable in your skin. Image Consultants help you assuredly express yourself while working past any known insecurities.
Every Image Consultant has a niche. Not every Image Consultant will be an expert at everything. Most will tell you what their niche is, but sometimes you may have to ask. Here are some of the specific services Image Consultants offer:
Color consultations | Color Analyst
Clothing or uniform designer
Hair and makeup styling
Etiquette consultations (dining, manners, email, business, table manners, telephone, office, texting, social, social media)
Executive presence coach
Fashion feng shui
Image motivational speaker or presenter
Wardrobe Building (people that are building a new closet)
Who hires an Image Consultant?
Image consultants experience working with an array of people and professions. Anyone insecure about their image should hire an Image Consultant. Anyone looking to identify with a different culture or group other than the ones they are accustom should hire an Image Consultant. Anyone looking to change the way they view themselves and are viewed by others in a significant way should hire an Image Consultant. Here is a list of specific types of people that hire Image Consultants.
People who recognize room for improvement in your appearance, communication, or behavior.
Politicians or someone considering running for office.
TV, Online, Radio, Movie, and News Personalities
Corporate and Sales Professionals
Professional and Motivational Speakers
Life Coaches and other third companies, supporting their services for a client.
Somebody who is entering the dating scene.
A man or woman starting a new profession.
People that have lost weight and can not fit into their old clothes.
People that want to lose weight but do not know where to start.
Branding agencies or businesses that are considering a company uniform.
Transexuals or someone changing their gender representation
Individuals who are tall, full-figured, or petite
Some work exclusively with men, women, teens, or children.
What qualifications do you need to be an image consultant?
There are no standard education requirements exist for Image Consultants. Image Consulting is a non-regulated industry. There is not a governing organization over the profession of being an Image Consultant. There is not a degree, nor a license required to be an Image Consultant. The U.S. Department of Labor does not require any formal education for an individual to list themselves as an Image Consultant. There are not any local, state, or federal licenses or certifications Image Consultants are required to attain before practicing their craft.
Academic institutions (such as Universities) are accredited by a governing body. Organizations providing Image Consultant certifications do not need to be accredited because no accrediting institution exists in the field of Image Consulting. Aspiring Image Consultants can choose to take a course or earn degrees in Image Consulting, but these courses or degrees are not accredited under any governing body.
The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) offers three certifications if you desire to have a stamp of approval to verify that you have been coached on how to Image Consult. They allow you to attach their designation to your name if you maintain membership and complete the continuing education guidelines.
Becoming certified with the AICI does help if clients are looking for the security of knowing their Image Consultant had some type of training.
Why become an Image Consultant?
By now, you're probably thinking, this sounds easy and personally fulfilling. Like being a Life Coach, being an Image Consultant is a career that helps people get to a better place in life.
As an Image Consultant, you can help someone see themselves differently when they look in the mirror. They can walk out of the house with more confidence. They will not be as fearful of speaking in public or meeting someone for the first time. As an Image Consultant, you would help them find a way to strategically manage, and deal with their social anxiety. Every Image Consultant should have a strong reason “why” they have committed to taking on the endeavor of helping another person live a life better than they do right now. By devoting yourself to a “noble” career where you will not only be personally fulfilled but can also help others to find their purpose in life, you can change the world.
How much money does an Image Consultant make?
Image Consultants have many ways in which they can earn an income. How much they make is based on how many paths they are willing to commit themselves to. The answer to this is very complex, and I will break it down into a few parts.
1. Do Image Consultants make a lot of money?
Image Consultants can make a lot of money, but most of them niche into Fashion Styling. Finding the net worth of even a Fashion Stylist has been difficult. The easiest to find was Rachel Zoe, who is listed to have a net worth of $16 million, but I am not sure how reliable that is because I can not even find an accurate birthday.
Most Image Consultants will not earn this amount of money in their careers. About 5% to 15% of Image Consultants make more than a six-figure income, and many others work a 9-5 job. Your income as an Image Consultant depends on how well you are at marketing yourself and finding a constant flow of high paying clients.
2.What factors determine how much you make as an Image Consultant?
Just like in other occupations, Image Consultants charge or are paid based on availability, education, experience, and areas of expertise(niche).
Availability – Image Consultants must manage their time between clients, personal life, running their business, humanitarian efforts, and continuous learning. Since there are only so many hours in a day, they must decide what is most important and attach a worth to it. If they are going to sacrifice a humanitarian event for a paid event, the amount that they earn needs to match in value. The busier that they get, the more valuable their time is.
Education – Some Image Consultants have fashion, art, or business degrees. They have gone to school for many years and have proven themselves capable even before practicing with the public. Many of them have school loans to pay back, and they need to earn enough to manage their current bill plus debt. The only way to do this is by requiring livable rates for services or working multiple careers. Either way, it is factored into their income.
Experience – Many Image Consultants have worked in other industries before deciding to be an Image Consultant. They use this knowledge to help their clients achieve their goals in the desired area. If they were a fashion merchandiser for a department store, now they have tremendous insight into the different styles and seasons fashion is released. Maybe an Image Consultant was building is building a career as a Fashion Designer, and they are doing Image Consulting freelance until they sell their first line. The more years they have been doing it allows them the right to charge more for their services.
Areas of Expertise – An Image Consultant whose niche is in stage presentation will possibly charge more than an Image Consultant that focuses on refreshing wardrobes. There is a more perceived value in one over the other. It is up to the client to decide the value. At the end of the day, the client is the one that is paying for the service.
3. How do Image Consultants make money?
Working for an established company is one way an Image Consultant can make their income, but many are self-employed entrepreneurs. Here are some of the various ways they are available for hire.
· One-on-One Sessions - Image Consultants works with the client in an individual setting to provide service or advice. It can be virtual or face-to-face.
· Group Sessions / Retreats - Normally, these are done in a large group setting within an auditorium or event facility.
· Paid Memberships - Typically yearly or monthly subscriptions to a newsletter, webinar, or notices for upcoming events.
· Courses - Online audio/video lessons on the different subject matter the Image Consultant creates.
· Motivational Speaking - Online or in-person events where the Image Consultant does a live presentation.
· Publications - Articles, books, e-books, or blogs that the Image Consultant writes.
· Podcasts - Audio broadcast of a show focused on a particular topic.
· Clothing Line - T-shirts, hats, sweaters, hoodies, and other types of wearable merchandise usually with the Image Consultant's logo on it.
4. The average salary of an Image Consultant
Some Image Consultants work as employees. Glassdoor rates the average base pay of an Image Consultant at $51,986 per year and a range from $15k to 76k per year. Private practices or freelance services are not included in the average base salary.
5. How much does hiring an Image Consultant cost?
Image Consultant charge rates based on time serviced like other professionals, e.g. Lawyers, Doctors, Mechanics. Typically, Image Consultants charge by the half-hour. Some will offer an initial consultation fee, but not all follow this practice. The rate of a 1-hour session can start around $25 and increase to over $5000 for the day. Some Image Consultants offer a monthly retainer ranging from $200 to $2500 per month (but this is not usually the case). That would include a set number of sessions/month and possibly additional niche services. Fashion Stylists charge even more and typically work with their clients on an exclusive event. The cost for these can vary. Some Image Consultants/Fashion Stylists work with A-list Celebrities, Fashion Houses, or Movie Studios and charge more than $50,000 for events. In any case, it is best to check out their websites before contacting them. When you do, have a list of questions and an open mind.
Here are 11 FAQs you should ask the Image Consultant you are considering
Are you a stylist or an Image Consultant?
How much is an image consultant?
What type of clients do you typically work with?
Do you offer "personal shopping?" How does it cost?
Do you have a portfolio?
How much do you charge?
What can you accomplish on my budget?
Do you have to see the clothes in my closet before you shop for me?
How do you choose the clothes for your clients to try on?
Where do you shop for your clients?
How long does it take?
In Conclusion: Back to the club
So, Who should the guy in the club have talked to first?
An Image Consultant, of course.
Image Consulting is not just about helping people construct a wardrobe & style that exemplifies a natural-healthy perception of their appearance. It is about feeling confident in your skin. Trusting that you are prepared for any social encounter and leaving a positive lasting impression on everyone you meet.
Sometimes when we look in the mirror, we do not see who we want to see looking back at us. We lost our way from being that cute little kid that we use to be. We did not keep up with fashion or the latest trend. Maybe we got attached to a style and never outgrew it.
Did you go through a major life change, like losing a few pounds, get a new job, or get out of a long term relationship? Now you look in your closet and have nothing to wear for that first day at work or on that blind date.
Whatever it is, your friendly neighborhood Image Consultant is just an email or phone call away.