Fashion Careers - Image Consultant

Are you interested in a fashion career but lack the creative ability to be a designer? Are you looking for a home based fashion business that will allow you to indulge you passion for fashion while helping others look their best? Why not consider becoming an image consultant? This article will provide you with an overview to help you become an image consultant.

What is an image consultant?

Image consultants create the persona that their clients present to the world through use of wardrobe, accessories and in some instances makeup.

What does an image consultant do?

As an image consultant you will assess, evaluate and make recommendations to your clients to help them project the image that they want in their personal and professional lives. For example, you may help newly promoted executives dress more professionally or a client who recently lost a large amount of weight, update their look.

As an image consultant you will be responsible for providing your clients with color analysis, style analysis, silhouette analysis, closet auditing, personal shopping, makeovers and more.

Where do image consultants work?

Some image consultants are employed by image consulting firms others are self employed. Image consultants can run their businesses in various ways. If you prefer more personal one-on-one interaction with others you may want to work with individuals or couples. In this case you would likely visit clients in their home and work from your office.

If you prefer public speaking and teaching, you may want to consider starting an image consulting seminar business where you will instruct groups such as corporations or private groups on issues relating to color, hair and clothing choices. These seminars can be conducted at corporate offices, country clubs, hotels etc.

How much do image consultants make?

As an image consultant you can make anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000+ depending on who your clients are, what your rates are and sales of additional items or services such as books, CDs, personal shopping etc.

Who makes a good image consultant?

A good image consultant needs to be patient and genuinely concerned with helping others create change in their lives. Many people that will utilize your services do not have the knowledge and skills that you have when it pertains to fashion, hair, grooming, makeup etc, which is why they are seeking your services in the first place. Secondly, to be a good image consultant you will also need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Image consulting is a people business. You must be able to speak effectively, persuasively and confidently with your clients and prospective clients. Lastly, a good image consultant needs to be organized, energetic and willing to network. Your business is only as good as your client list. When you have no clients there is no income. You must be willing to introduce yourself to people and promote your business.

How can I become an image consultant?

Go online and research image consultant training. You will find that there are various platforms for training to become image consultant. One way is to work as an intern or apprentice with an image consultant and gain hands on experience. There are also many web-based training courses, correspondence courses, seminars and downloadable books that provide information and training on becoming an image consultant. While certification is not necessary for becoming an image consultant you can obtain certification through the Association of Image Consultants (AICI).

Tips and Considerations

Study fashion. Keep abreast of the latest fashion, hair and makeup trends. If you work with corporate clients be knowledgeable about current and future corporate culture as it relates to wardrobe and lifestyle.
Research training programs and courses thoroughly. Ask for referrals and speak with other students regarding the value and delivery of the information they were provided.
You are your best advertising. Remember you are in the business of image and presentation. Make sure that you always look your best. You never know where you will meet your next client.
Clichéd as it may sound, the first impression is always the last impression! What we say/do and how we look in the first few seconds of interaction leaves behind a lasting impression. Little wonder then that everyone tries to project the right image so as to make a stellar impact.
It is not just people; every organisation carries its own personality, which affects its reputation, revenue and results - making it crucial for employees and teams to present the right professional image.
This overwhelming need to project a dynamic persona to suit different occasions has given birth to a hot new profession of Image Consultancy. Rakesh Agarwal, founder and chief consultant of First Impression Private Ltd, an image consultant training firm expounds, “A hip and happening career, professional image consultants can release the locked potential of people and change their lives!” And its not just jobseekers or corporate executives, but also celebrities, socialites, models, politicians, doctors, lawyers, and even the average person on the street who seek to project their best self. It could be to land a job, get a promotion, attract clients, find a life partner, gain confidence or simply to feel good about themselves!

Helping to make a statement

Image consultants are paid to help people/corporations create a fabulous impression. It's all about professionally managing a client's image by instilling a sense of poise, polish and style.
As an image consultant, you should offer a customised approach by meeting and talking to the clients to understand their personality, lifestyle, preferences, personal style and goals on the one hand and body shape, size and face shape on the other. You have to then design a detailed plan to guide them towards their unique, individual and authentic style.
This addresses everything about the physical appearance from clothes, hair, make-up, accessories, jewellery and grooming to even colour analysis. Accordingly, certain styles, colours and materials, change of hairstyle, makeup and grooming tips, etc. to suit their age, shape, size, status and situation is recommended. A career profiler elaborates, “Image consultants advise on anything from collar width, tie pattern and jacket cut to heel height, lipstick shade and hair colour.”
But it's not just about looks; you also have to guide them on how to talk and behave so as to present a consistent, harmonious and complete package. This includes voice, diction, grammar, vocabulary, posture, handshake, eye contact, gestures, assertiveness, relationship building, etiquette, mannerisms and so on. For this purpose, you should develop a network of strategic partners for referring clients - like hair stylists, makeup artists, nutritionists, dentists, personal trainers, plastic surgeons and voice coaches.
For corporate groups, image management will also include dress policy, business casual dos and don'ts, protocol, professional etiquette, appropriate business skills, image maintenance, stress management, etc. When it comes to projecting a powerful business image for an organisation, it also extends to corporate branding with logo, website, marketing tools and promotional materials.

Getting started

Transforming each aspect of a person's personality into a formal and elegant style is no cakewalk. As Judith Rasband, a senior image consultant says, “Image Consulting is not rocket science. It's harder!”
There are various books, workshops and training programmes for learning the basics of image management. Apart from the knowledge and skills, the consultancy courses also provide assistance on setting up and running a business. Although there are limited training centres in select cities in India, you can always opt for home study courses to learn about fashion, image and style through courses ranging from a few days to few weeks to even few months.
While the education and training do enhance your credibility and confidence, they are by no means essential. What is significant is hands-on experience, testimonials and word-of-mouth publicity. You can offer to style family/friends and build an attractive portfolio for future clients.
Getting yourself certified with an international trade body like ‘The Image Consultants' Society International' (ICSI) will further enhance your recognition and credibility.
Continuous learning is imperative in this field as image consultants have to keep abreast of the latest trends. So, keep updating your skills by attending seminars and other programmes.

What it takes

Anyone with a passion to help people improve how they present themselves and create a dynamic image can enter the field of image consultancy. What you need is a strong sense of style and fashion along with a keen eye for colours. Particularly, hospitality professionals, cabin crew, fashion designers, counsellors or others with exposure to image-related professions have a definite advantage. You should also be outgoing, enjoy working with people and have excellent communication skills, for instance to be able to diplomatically tell a client what he needs to improve about his appearance.
Above all, to be credible, you must have a confident style and impressive personality yourself!
Career Prospects
Image consultancy is the industry of the future. Celebrity image consultant, Gloria Starr who has 20 years experience, says, “It is a great time to get into the field!”
An image consultant is also known as wardrobe consultant, fashion stylist or makeover consultant.
It is a well-paid career with professionals being paid thousands of rupees by the hour - both for personalised consultations or conducting interactive seminars and training programmes on varied topics like professional dressing, communication skills, telephone etiquette, business dining, etc. (for individuals and companies). You can choose to set up a full-time business or even work part-time.
This profession is for those with a yen for helping people present their best self and unleash their potential poising them for recognition and success!

Payal Chanania

Where to study

Image Consulting Business Institute
Location: Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Nagpur

Impact – Image, Style and Etiquette Consultants
Location: Gurgaon (regular courses in Bangalore, Mumbai)

Istituti Callegari
Location: Mumbai

First Impression (a unit of Frankfinn group)
Location: Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Amritsar (other centres not yet operational)

Sterling Style Academy
Location: International institute conducting short courses in Mumbai

Online courses offered by:

Fashion Image Institute

The Image Maker Inc.