Everything from your hair cut and color to your home décor is in need of a refresh, and we will dive into the details to get you there.
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Everything from your hair cut and color to your home décor is in need of a refresh, and we will dive into the details to get you there.
By Gillian Armour, AICI CIP
Our work as image and fashion consultants takes us down many paths with our clients. Recently I’ve been doing quite a bit of consulting with Plus Size female clients. My clients tell me they want to look fashionable and yet are constantly challenged with finding "fashionable" clothing in the market place today. It can be very disheartening for them to watch fashion shows, admire the clothes, and realize that not a thing on the runway will fit them. Despite this realization, they can definitely recreate the looks while being body conscious and fabulous.
Here are a few tips I offer and that you can use to help your clients find great fashion in any size:
It is quite simple and affordable to look "high fashion" no matter what your figure. You'll need 3 things: current fashion magazines, a notebook, and patience to wear your dream outfits!
After you've seen a look that you would like to recreate from a fashion magazine, deconstruct the outfit in your notebook. With great detail, list the components of the outfit including all accessories. Note the color, fabric, cut, and embellishments for each article that constitutes the outfit. This list will be your guide for the rest of your "scale up" adventure, so every detail is important. List accessories in the side margins as you will be shopping for these later on as well.
From client experience I can guarantee that you already own at least one article of clothing on your list. So, your next step is to shop in your closet. Pull garments that are the colors of your desired palette. Gather accessories and shoes that are similar to the ones you've noted. If necessary, take any existing garments to the cleaners in preparation for assembling day. Once you've taken an inventory of what you already own then it's time to do some online shopping to fill in your list.
There are great "as seen on stars" websites as well as trendy plus size online shops available. Comb through these shops using keywords from your detailed list ("wide-leg trousers" "bow tie blouses" etc.). You may find a comparable outfit already coordinated and ready to wear, and in your size on these sites and will be able to accessorize with picks from your closet. A few sites I recommend include: modcloth.com, Amazon.com’s Plus Size Shop
Alas, if you don't find what you need online, you'll have to visit department stores (alone or with your fashion consultant). This can be a little tricky if the look you seek is for next season. Don't fret! Sales racks will have clothes from past seasons that can be used. For example, if it's the dead of winter and you're looking for a cute summer ensemble you saw in a Spring/Summer spread from fashion week, check out the sales rack. You will be able to find linens and lighter weight fabrics for a fraction of the price. Furthermore, if you hold out until March, you'll be able to find exact looks for the next season trickled down from the runway, hopefully in your size. If not, you will find alternatives with the same color palette. Keep in mind also that in late July and early August many department stores are marking down Spring/Summer in anticipation of the new Fall collections coming onto the sales floor.
Your last course of action to "scale up" runway fashions is to hire a skilled seamstress. You should have a seamstress on call anyway for your clothes to fit you perfectly. In this case, you need a highly skilled seamstress with a keen eye for detail. You'll be presenting her photographs, a Polyvore collage or your magazines tear outs of what you need to complete a look. You may already have the jacket, accessories, and shoes, but you need the blouse and trousers made. It is imperative that she is able to free hand a pattern and craft you well fitted clothes that match the expensive, authentic look of the designer outfit you desire to replicate. Ask for work samples and references. You'll need to do some research about her background in working with various fabrics and techniques, as well.
Assembling day will be exciting! You've put in the work and now you finally have all of the components for your look straight off the runway. It may have taken some time, planning, and money, but plus sized women should be able to wear high fashion. Let the work you put into getting the stylish finished product be you and your image consultants little secret.
editors note: We recently asked our working graduates to guest blog. We asked them to share tips and advice for stylists. This week our guest blogger is Janene Stone, Certified Fashion Stylist, Hong Kong Hi - if anyone would be interested in working with a contact in Hong Kong - I am Australian and prices of products in Australia are not cheap. Thus, over the years people have whatsapped me with a picture of what they want and I scout around to find that product at a cheaper price. The client pays for the mail [shipping] and my 10% of the cost of the item. It really is an easy fun way to shop. As an example my Mum has not bought her Lancome skincare in Australia for years because I pick it up much cheaper here.
Are you consulting with Plus Size clients? Here is a tip sheet for you to hand out. Often, women who are plus size feel that they simply cannot look good. Not true. While it can be difficult to find something attractive when you are larger than the average sizes, it is definitely possible to put together outfits that look fabulous every time. Being plus size does not doom you to a life of black outfits. Plus size women can look great all the time; it is just a matter of choosing to follow these ideas.
1) Start With a Strong Foundation
No matter what your outfit, be sure to start with figure-enhancing foundation garments. Bras, slips, pantyhose, and even a comfortable shaper can make a huge difference. You want smooth lines underneath your clothing so the eye goes where it should and not to a bulky undergarment pushing through.
2) Make It Fit
There is a silly myth that larger women should use loose-fitting clothes, but that is actually not a good idea. Clothes that fit your body, no matter what size, will always look better than bulky clothes that hide your assets. With a nice, fitted shirt and pants, you will always look much thinner you look than in a baggy sweater.
3) Darker Colors Are Slimming
Bright colors do make you look larger. Don’t dismiss them – balance them with a darker color as darker colors make you look slimmer. Black, navy blue and burgundy are all very classy options that will make your clothes look better on your body. Add some darker neutrals to your wardrobe to help you look great.
4) Prints Should Be Proportionate
Have you ever seen a plus size woman in a dress with a tiny print all over it? It usually results in making her look far larger than she actually is. Much like a petite woman´s body would be overwhelmed by a large print, small prints are not usually suitable for larger women. Sometimes a small print combined with a bold larger colored stripe can look great. Evaluate each print option individually knowing that the smaller the print the bigger you will look.
5) Avoid Stiff, Bulky Fabrics
There is no need to bulk yourself up by using fabrics that stand out from your skin and add visual weight. The same goes for ruffles or layers. They add unnecessary bulk to your look. Rather than going with stiffer fabrics, look for ones that are light and flow without clinging, as clingy fabric just enhances any bulges.
6) Keep Accessories Proportional
What you use to enhance your wardrobe counts too. Everything from earrings and necklaces, to belts, scarves and handbags should be scaled to your size. A tiny clutch or delicate chain will only serve to make you appear larger than you are. Make sure your jewelry and other accessories are proportionate to your size for the best results. Do not hesitate to wear bold statement pieces. Leave the dainty earrings to the petite ladies – on you they will look out of place.
7) Wear What You Feel Comfortable In
All these tips can be helpful in creating a look that makes you feel confident and look great no matter what your size. No one looks good when they feel uncomfortable, make sure you also choose clothing that makes you feel good and you are comfortable wearing. The confidence you display when you feel at ease will shine through and help enhance any outfit.
8) Time For a Closet Review
It is important that you always feel you have some great outfits to wear. If your size fluctuates, keep only a few outfits at your smaller size, not a whole closet full. If you do, you will feel like you have tons of clothes but you never have anything to wear. Go take a look at your wardrobe and do an honest assessment of what you’ve got and what you might need. Try things on, send anything to the cleaners that needs attention and send anything to the seamstress that needs mending. Invest a few hours in putting different outfits together, and deciding which accessories finish out the look.
Follow the guidelines above and then go do some shopping to fill any holes in your wardrobe. With a little attention to your look, you will feel and look great every time you get dressed.
by Gillian Armour
Even if no harm is meant - I have a hard time with being called an apple. Or a pear, a tomato, a strawberry or a banana. When did it become acceptable to define women like this? I am not a fruit or a vegetable! Yes I am a shape, I have a body shape but who made it a rule to define me by something I can find in the grocery section?
You see I am a professional image consultant, trained and certified with years of experience working with men and women on defining their body-shapes. In all my years of training I was never encouraged to call clients I am counseling by a fruit or vegetable term. In our profession we use proper geometric terms – a more respectful and empowering way to describe the human body shape. So a “pear” is actually called a triangle shape and an “apple” shape is defined to our clients as “round.”
Moreover, our male clients are never identified as eggplant, carrot or kiwi etc. Can you imagine the shocked look of a male client if I told him he measured as a tomato?
Please, all you writers and wanna-be consultants out there – pro up and call your client's body by its geometric shape please – square, inverted triangle, triangle, round, hourglass or rectangle. Your readers, clients and listeners will appreciate your show of respect. And I will like it very much!
by Gillian Armour, AICI CIP
I work in a visually oriented business that requires me to pass judgment on people’s appearance. People actually pay me to judge how they look. We Image Consultants are probably the only professionals who can get away with critiquing others looks and making money at it (OK, pageant judges come to mind as well); however, the public perception is that we do it in a critical way and I want to dispel that myth.
As trained professionals we learn how to be supportive in our critiques. We hold an internal attitude of respect for our clients AND we practice constructive criticism and positive feedback (not the negative “pick-you-apart” that you see on reality shows). The professionals among us practice a sort of therapy. Our clients trust us to help them, they trust our advice; they come to us stuck in issues such as lack of self-esteem, body image challenges, and identity crises. Together we work with them to get them beyond these issues and toward greater esteem, confidence and power.
During the consulting process a powerful change occurs. Clients begin to see themselves as they truly are. They see that their unique body shape, skin-tone, height, weight, posture, mannerisms and quirky parts equal a person who is worthy of self-respect and self-love. This realization leads to change in an internal dialog that they’ve been having as long as they can remember which usually went something like this “Ugh, I am so fat, have big hips, big nose, my hair sucks, I am not tall enough, I need a boob job, I don’t know how to look good, nobody ever compliments me, I have a double chin, my hair is gray, my lips aren’t full enough”….and on and on. Men, too, have internalized this negative self-talk but their inner conversation is more like “My pecs are too small, I don’t have defined abs, I’m not tall enough, good looking enough, etc., etc.”
As you know, this negative self-talk fosters and supports many industries. For example, the cosmetic, health, surgery, diet, fashion and beauty companies thrive from women who have brainwashed themselves into thinking they are less than perfect. The truth, that each of us is beautiful, unique and perfect, stays buried as women buy into the messages these industries send our way day in, day out, year in, year out with their advertising and marketing.
With this in mind, we help the client throughout the consultation frame her self-image in a positive light and guide her toward self-acceptance. Almost immediately her internal dialog shifts simply to “I love myself.” With our help she starts the process of stopping the negative self-talk. Finally she can see her true self and not one measured by the impossible ideal that marketers have held her to.
When a man or a woman can see themselves for who they are, can accept all their perceived flaws as unique qualifiers of individual beauty and attraction, can change their perspective of self to a healthy one, then they can stop spending time, money and energy on the external fixes of surgery, diet fads and trendy fashion to “fix” themselves. Helping each client to recognize that they have a beauty inside waiting to be expressed on the outside is what successful “image” consultants do. We don’t criticize, we don’t judge negatively, and we don’t feed negative self-talk. We help reveal the natural beauty that is already there.
©2013 All Rights Reserved Gillian Armour
by Gillian Armour, AICI CIP
Recently I Googled “fashion tips” and 10,000,000 links came up. That’s TEN MILLION! I did this to see how much fashion information was readily accessible on the internet by just typing in 11 letters!!
Why is it, considering that how we look and dress is the most important visual message we give to others, there are still women and men who dress horribly? Is it really a modern truism that most of us prefer to send the message that we don’t care enough about ourselves to bother looking nice? There is a very thin line between casual and careless. I personally think society is screaming for a fashion intervention!
It’s super scary to think that “sweatshirts” are now the fashion designers’ basic line item. Have you searched for “sweatshirt” on Saks Fifth Avenue’s or Neiman Marcus’ site lately? I just did and found couture designers Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Jason Wu, Lanvin and more offering SWEATSHIRTS! Some made out of chiffon, leather, silk and even rabbit skin! This, I think, is a direct consequence of the laid back casual lifestyle driven by the technophiles and their hoodie wearing founders! But is this where we as women who do care about how we look want to go?
For too long women have been on the receiving end of fashion design trends and fads (less so for men who have their own dress codes) attempting to brainwash them into thinking that fast and casual fashion is fashion. It’s not fashion. It’s just cheap clothing. And cheap clothing does not fit well, does not flatter, does nothing for your style personality. Sweatshirts with a fancy name attached are still sweatshirts. They are still shapeless and send casual (careless?) messages of sport not beauty. Do we always have to follow ‘fashion’ rather than learning what truly flatters our unique, individual shape and style?
These days true fashion statements are about as rare as the Papuan Bird of Paradise and when we do see them (fashion week, Harajuku, celebrities) we ‘oooh’ and ‘aaaw’. And the reason we respond so well to these fashion peacocks is because they remind us of beauty, of attraction, of our basic human goodness. We like to see men and women looking good; deep down all of us want to send positive visual messages to others. We just don’t know how and yet, and yet it is really as simple as typing in those 11 letters!
Learning, as always, is the key, learning how to sort through the ten million “fashion tips” links to find true fashion for you rather than the casual/careless ‘filler’. And of course this is where an image consultant comes in.
About that intervention – I think it’s time we rallied and started a new trend and call it DRESSING UP. I, for one, am in the mood these days to welcome the chance to look great, and in fact, I encourage it in my clients. I love to get them in the dress up mode and watch as their self-esteem rockets. That’s what clothes and appearance are all about – looking good to feel good not looking bad to feel bad.
This year, for the first time ever, Vanity Fair opened up their best dressed list nominations to the "general" public. There were meetings, lunches, strategic methods in action all across the nation to find the select men and women considered by Vanity Fair editors to be the worlds BEST DRESSED! Here in San Francisco Neiman Marcus invited several clients recently (our lips are sealed) to a special lunch. Did our local beauties qualify? CLICK HERE or enter this link to your browser! http://vnty.fr/dlb3wU