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Image Consultant  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotImage consultants advise their clients on personal appearance, fashion style and beauty regimes. They make sure you have the upper hand, whether that means creating an arty image to go along with your new record album, or a preppy business image to open doors at Microsoft.

dotWithin five seconds of meeting someone, you make a critical first impression. Fifty-five percent of that impression is made up of appearance, 38 percent is based on how you sound, and a mere seven percent is made up of what you say. So if you want to capture people's attention, you better look good.

Image consultants say their clients have often allowed their appearance to lag behind their position. To an outsider, upgrading your image seems simple. But more often than not it takes an expert to provide the finishing touches to your new image.

dotImage consultants deal with wardrobes, wardrobe color, hair, make-up, jewelry selection and sometimes even personal poise and grace. Some focus on only one or two of these areas, while others branch into self-esteem -- a popular feature with teenage clients.

dotMost clients are women between the ages of 35 and 55, but younger and older women also use the service. Men also go to image consultants to learn how to exude success through appearance.

Karen Brunger was a vice-president of education for the AICI. In 1985, she worked for a large color consulting company. Since then, Brunger has started up her own business and heads a chapter of AICI.

dotWhile flagship stores and shopping malls hire some consultants, most end up owning their own boutiques or creating their own line of cosmetics.

dotOne of the biggest issues many companies are dealing with is the "casual" work image. Many employees have taken it to new extremes, so that business dress is no longer professional.

"The main problem is that people don't know what casual dress means," says Brunger. "Some people think it just means you can't wear sweats and blue jeans."

In addition, some states have human rights legislation that prevents employers from dictating how their employees dress. Instead, companies hire image consultants to hold seminars to teach employees how to put their best face forward.

dotNew York consultant Judith Graham says it's been a long climb to credibility for the industry. "It's like public relations. Years ago people thought it was light -- fluffy. Now PR is commonplace, and I think image consulting will go the same way."

The biggest challenge for Graham is dealing with clients who don't want to change. A typical scenario has a client saying they want a change, and then ignoring advice. "Sometimes clients are just mentally not prepared to do this."

At a Glance

Help clients put their best face forward

  • Self-esteem and image are becoming big issues
  • Most consultants are women
  • Courses in human ecology, psychology and sociology will help