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How Image Consultants Can Get Free Publicity

AICI West President Gillian Armour, AIC CIP, reached out to Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, to get an update on advice she provided to our membership once upon a time. Not only did Joan update the information in her original article, but she added

The Power of Your Appearance

The following excerpt is from the recently updated and revised book “Your Image Talks” by Gillian Armour, founder of FSI. Purchase link follows.

Your Image Talks.png

Many people don’t realize the power their appearance has to get them what they want in life (and career). When you know how to work at building your image to your advantage, people will wonder what your secret is. 

Part of your success in life is how well prepared you are. In this chapter, you will learn:

 ·         How to update both your self-image and projected image and attract success

·         How to move from being “good enough” to being “the best”

·         Transform your thinking from accepting how the world sees you now to creating how you want the world to see you

·         Learn that your appearance is your personal power tool for success.

Ask yourself right now — how am I different and better than my competition? In what ways do I excel, and how do I fall short? Make a list of your attributes and drawbacks, now, before moving on. 

Done? For most of you your list did not include “I am better looking” or “I dress better.” So, what’s wrong with looking good? Do you feel great when you look good? Do you feel like you could do anything? Do we admire other men and women who look incredible? Of course, we do — there is an entire multi-billion-dollar industry devoted to our need to be admired and liked.

We live in competitive times. We all know that it is in those first few seconds of meeting others that opinions are formed.  Research shows that looks, social status, education, background, sexuality, financial status, mate potential, and intelligence levels (just to name a few) are all evaluated within the first ten seconds of meeting a person. If you are in sales, you do it even faster. We cannot help it. We are hard wired to be masters of the art of quick judgment. So why wouldn’t you want to step up to the plate and be the best-looking person in the room? This takes the ability to be good at preparation. Most of your success in life depends on how well prepared you are.

Get a copy of the book here.

How to Market Your Brand Using Pinterest – A Newbie Fashion Consultants Guide

Foreign Magazines to Pinterest
Foreign Magazines to Pinterest

By Gillian Armour, AICI CIP Launching a new fashion, image or style business is never easy or simple. No matter how much planning you've poured into creating your new company, chances are there is still more work to do. One of the most important things you'll need to do when launching your new image business brand is to engage in online marketing. Our industry is very visually oriented and utilizing Pinterest is a strong way to generate new leads and get traffic to your main site.  At Fashion Stylist Institute it's our goal to prepare you for success in all your business endeavors and we hope this tip sheet inspires you. Here are the steps to take immediately to begin marketing on Pinterest:

Create your Pinterest account

The very first thing you'll need to do is to create a business account on Pinterest. Make sure that your display name is the same name of your company. Additionally, you should aim to use the same username you utilize on other social media sites. The more similarities you have between your sites, the better off you'll be. Image consultants historically use their own name for a consulting business name. This makes your brand memorable and sets you apart from all other consultants pinning away on Pinterest.

Fill out your Pinterest profile

Make sure that you don't skip filling out your profile. Some new consultants are in such a hurry that they don't want to waste time with this. Keep in mind, however, that many people will check out what your business has to say about itself on Pinterest. In addition to sharing a few words about yourself, you'll need to create an interesting tagline (for example: “I help women find vintage styles for their wardrobe”) and upload a professional profile picture or a custom logo.

Create at least 10 boards

You should ideally create at least 10 boards to start off with, though many consultants do create more. When you create a board on Pinterest, you'll be able to sort items that you want to "pin" into these boards. Items that you pin should be related to your business, your service and any advice you want to pass on. When someone is searching for image advice, a fashion photo or style theme and discovers your boards, they'll have the chance to follow you and receive any future updates from you in their news feed. Creating a variety of boards will ensure that you get new followers on a regular basis. Just be sure that each board you title pertains to your fashion business since you want to attract viewers who can relate to your subject matter.

Find appropriate pins

Search on Pinterest for images that you can pin onto your boards. If you do closet makeovers, for example, create boards that have to do with organization, shopping or storage. You can then pin related images to these boards. The person who originally pinned the image will receive a notification and may choose to follow you, as well.

Create images for your website

If your goal is to draw new visitors to your own website, you'll need to create "pinnable" images for your site. A pinnable image is any picture that someone can easily share to Pinterest. Ideally, you should take images of makeovers (before and afters), your studio location or your products and add a label or quote to them. You can do this easily using photo-altering software on your phone or computer. You could also label the picture with the name of a relevant article it links to, the name of the service depicted in the image or even your tag line.

Pin items from your website

You might also consider the images you already use on your website.  Pin each of these to Pinterest. Then the picture will automatically include a link to your website, so anytime someone shares the image, their friends will have the chance to click on your link. Make sure that when you pin an image, you include a brief description utilizing SEO-friendly keywords such as “image consulting” or “fashion makeover.” When people search for images (or keywords) on Pinterest, your graphics could pop up.

Share your posts on social media

Anytime you pin to Pinterest, make sure you let your social media followers know. This will give you even more of an audience when it comes to seeing your pins. Remember that the benefit of having someone pin one of your images is that their friends and followers will see the image, too. Even if the person who shared it doesn't become a client, chances are that one of their friends might or may even know someone in the market for your help.

Like all social media marketing, Pinterest marketing can take time. Fortunately, with a bit of effort, planning and dedication, you'll receive new website traffic and customer visits from the images that you share online and your fashion, image or style consulting business will grow as a result.

If you would like further training Fashion Stylist Institute offers certification courses in fashion, image, and style disciplines.

How to Modernize Your Headshot

Are you stuck in a nineties rut with your head-shot? Is the background color of your head-shot photo blue, khaki or white? If so then it’s time to modernize. Recently I took a look at the last round of head-shots I had done 6 years ago and realized that not only had styles changed but I had changed as well. My hair is a lighter shade, my face more mature and my attitude more confident. I wanted a new image of myself that reflected these changes. Taking another “portrait studio” head-shot didn’t feel like the best option to reflect my new attitude! As image consultants it is our professional duty to present a successful and updated image but nothing says “outdated” like a headshot photo that looks last decade. Yes, I know, there is such a thing as a formal head-shot (basic black, blue or white background) and these are okay if you (or your client) need to appear “corporate”.   Image, fashion or style consultants should look modern, in style and approachable to their clients, even corporate ones. Clients look to you to set the tone for the consult and if one of the first things they see is a boring, uncreative head-shot they can  jump to the conclusion that that’s who you are. Remember, you only make a first impression once.

Many of our clients are also looking for advice on how to take a profile photo to look fashionable, to attract others or to promote their personal brand. A good headshot can do all these things. So lead by example. And keep in mind that on social media people change their profile/ head-shot images monthly, weekly, or even daily, so sticking with the same image month in month out says you aren’t keeping up with the times.

Here are a few tips for transitioning to a modern head-shot:

  • Look for and hire a good photographer using outdoor lighting, interesting props, and colorful interiors, not just solid color backdrops or green screens.
  • Arrange for the photographer to shoot in environments that reflect personality (your consulting studio, a fashion showroom, or a boutique, for example).
  • Visit Pinterest and key in “modern head-shots” – you will get lots of ideas and inspiration.
  • Don’t rely on your iPhone or amateur photography when creating a head-shot.
  • Don’t limit your creativity when composing the shot – have fun, be yourself but with the goal of creating a photo image that conveys a modern sense of style – you are, after all, an image consultant!
  • Finally - don't be too wild with color, props or poses. Be authentically you and project your personality in your photo.


Check out this site for ideas of successful head-shots taken outdoors with interesting backgrounds.

Google “cool head-shot photos” to see how others are transforming the head-shot of old!

Gillian Armour, AICI CIP

Is Your Client Base About To Change?


2015  is a key year for the generations in the workplace. It is the year of the “Generational Turnover” or “transition” and the last year in which the Boomer Generation (now aged 51 to 69) will be the largest generation of working age.  Boomers are being replaced in the workforce by Gen Y (ages 19 to 35) and Gen X (ages 36 to 50). Baby boomers are now retiring and Gen Y, with a population of 82 million and Gen X (population 49 million) will have the greatest presence in the workforce in the next 24 months. This means that the way people work, shop, live and learn is going to undergo a significant change.

How does this impact the Fashion, Style and Image consultant? On several levels – the first of which is that the retiring boomer now needs a whole different wardrobe.  Her needs are now shifting from a work wardrobe to a casual, retired lifestyle wardrobe. For the generations moving into positions of power and competition in the workplace the needs will be for a more professional and appropriate wardrobe.

Additionally if your niche market has been the boomer generation you are going to have to re-think your niche and begin paying attention to the needs of the 19 to 50 year old's who represent the largest group in the workforce in the next 12 to 24 months.

For the next five years the demographic for us to nurture is going to be Gen Y as they become the largest group to mature into 2020. Generation Y age group will be 24 to 40 by then and historically this age group has been the base one for our bread and butter image services.

Start thinking now how you can tailor your services to this big (some would say HUGE) market. You have about a year to begin the change in your business model.

2015 Trends in Fashion, Style and Image Consulting

As the economy heats up more people are returning to traditional work (as opposed to gigs) and will be seeking career advancements.  There will be an increased need for standards in appropriate dress. While appearance standards in recent years have trended toward the casual, as more people started working from home, the overall fashion trend is toward a higher level of style.  This was obvious on the recent Spring Summer 2015 fashion shows where a ladylike sensibility prevailed. Current fashion is also being influenced by eco movements as can be seen in the proliferation of organic and sustainable clothing coming on to the market. This look, while trending, is a casual look and suits the client who works in incubators, collectives, and casual environments but not in the corporate world.

Let’s take a look at the generational needs of our clients for insight into how we image consultants can be of service to both the casual dresser and the corporate one:

The BOOMER generation (age in 2014 = 50 to 68) is becoming focused on the slow fashion movement; the “maker movement” of handcrafted, handmade, one of a kind, custom and “reuse, recycle, reduce.” This generation of client is turning her wardrobe over to re-sale shops and investing in higher priced, higher quality clothing (some prefer luxury labels, others the upscale contemporary designers such as Donna Karan, Eileen Ford, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein etc.). She is a fan of the swap party – trading in unworn clothing for new looks others are also swapping out.

This generation's woman is also aging and her body most likely changing. She is looking for comfort in clothing, preferring a relaxed fit and style.  For this age group the ath-leisure clothing style works well. “No matter how absurdly silly that sounds, there’s a huge audience right now for this “new” category. Apparently, roughly half the people buying “activewear” these days are buying it for “nonactive use, as casual and everyday-wear,” according to a recent study.” Kristin Tice Studeman, blog post,

  • Potential services for this client could include closet auditing, swap party planning, transitioning into active wear for wardrobe needs and personal shopping to athletic stores (Athleta by Gap, Target, Top Shop, Ann Taylor) for starters. For the slow fashion fan an online shopping session for handmade, hand crafted clothing from would be fun.

For the GENERATION X demographic (age in 2014 = 38 to 48) there are micro-trends taking place. This demographic is experiencing second and third careers, venturing into a business of their own or entrenched in a long term career.  Their fashion needs reflect their budget and clothing choices are less about what is trending than about what can become a classic item to add to her wardrobe. Gen X has matured out of the trendy fashion scene but still likes fashion,  in particular fashion that creates a unique image since attraction is still relevant to this age group.

  • Potential services for this client could include closet styling, wardrobe shopping, accessory coordinate’s sessions, suit tailoring and non-verbal communication sessions to help her improve her executive communication skills.

Bloggers are becoming more influential with their extreme focus of such things as OOTD (outfit of the day) and social causes. Their influence impacts the street style and what is worn by GENERATION Y (age in 2014 = 20 to 37 years old).  This demographic group is now becoming the most powerful shopping group of any generational demographic and fashion trends reflect this pattern - styles are trending toward a 1970’s vibe (vintage to this age group, sexy, powerful and speaks to liberation and freedom). Gen Y also seeks unique, hard to find looks.  Some in this age group love to mix up their looks with clothing and accessories from fast fashion stores (Gap, H&M, Zara, Cos etc.).

  • Potential services for the Gen Y client could include vintage store shopping, Eco-fashion hunting (this age group favors sustainable clothing), fashion show escort to fundraising fashion shows, or fast fashion shopping to spice up a tired wardrobe.

All three of these generations can be found in the corporate work world. At the corporate level more and more women continue their upward striving toward the glass ceiling. Although the numbers are low (women currently hold 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions) these women influence others to excel.  Their personal image sets the tone for other women working within the company. Yahoo employees saw an uptick in dress standards when Marissa Mayer took the helm (Wall Street Journal, May 2013) - “It’s exciting to have a female leader that you can all sort of look up to, and she is stylish,” said Jennifer Romolini, editor in chief of Yahoo Shine. “We’ve all upped our game.” Your clients will benefit from upping their image game with your help.

In 2015 consultants will have ample opportunity to tap into new markets.  If you have been working with one generation it may be time to explore the needs of others. Your services are always needed and you can grow your business by focusing on these targets this year.

©All rights reserved: Gillian Armour AICI CIP

Earn Money as a Fashion Blogger

Here is an excerpted article from my new book "Your Fashion Blog Start Up Guide"

Q: Can I earn money as a fashion blogger?

"The easy answer to this questions is YES. If you are a good writer, have a great point of view and can build an audience, you can earn a substantial living. But, it will take a lot of hard work.

The top ten fashion bloggers in the country (Sartorialist, Hypebeast, Advanced Style, High Snobiety, Refinery29, Man Repeller, The Beauty Department, Cupcakes and Cashmere, Fashionista) have been at it now for many years and have an established audience and built-in advertisers. Don’t expect to achieve that level of success quickly. Creating a blog is a long-term project, but this book will show you the steps to eventually rise to the top and become the cream of the blogging crop.

How much money you can make from your blog depends on how creative you can be in driving traffic to your site. Once you have traffic and a large audience, you can then leverage your statistics toward selling ad space. You can also add affiliate links and get paid each time someone clicks a link on your blog, or you can monetize your content: in other words, charge money for videos, tip sheets, serialized articles and e-books.

Knowing how to “Guerrilla Market” helps you get the word out in creative ways to the audiences you want to reach. In the Forms and Worksheets section, I’ve included 20 Tips for Guerrilla Marketing (an expression meaning “unconventional” and sometimes clandestine) to help you promote your blog. This tip sheet gives you an idea of the ways you can market your writing. The work you do to market and build your audience (or fan base) is never-ending. Just take one look at the turmoil that takes place outside any fashion-week venue. Fashion bloggers are always front and center, doing their best to attract attention and to get a mention in the bigger fashion press.

Bloggers can earn money in a variety of ways, but as with any business, to succeed you will need to work hard. Until you establish yourself as a serious writer, there aren’t a lot of full-time jobs available. Writers typically have a hard time letting go of the independence of their solo career and prefer to remain freelance. You may decide to do the same.

Having said that, I do know there are companies that will hire you to manage and maintain their social media posts, to blog about their products and to manage surveys and polls. These companies do what you want to do, but on a larger scale. If you think that getting experience with a large company will help you build a more successful business, then I challenge you to seek out such companies.....

The options for getting work are many, but I would encourage you to experience working for yourself and enjoying the freedom that comes from having a freelance career and a blog of your own. To guide you, I’ve included a Career Guide in the final chapter of this more when you purchase the book!

To get your copy of the book click over to Amazon here.

How to Look Great on Video

by Gillian Armour

As independent fashion, image or style consultants, we do quite a bit of networking online either with clients or with other groups (and sometimes even in e-Learning). One of the dangers of working from home is that you can become a bit too casual. Coming to work in your sweatpants every day might seem great, but there are times you will need to ditch that casual look and project a more professional appearance. The video conference is one such time, and new technology makes meeting with clients and viewing projects easier than ever.

Software products like GoToMeeting and AdobeConnect allow people to meet in person no matter where they are physically located. That is great news for home based consultants, freeing them from the traditional office and putting them on even footing with their larger competitors. If not handled properly, however, a video conference can be a disaster for someone who works from home. If your office does not project a professional appearance, others on the call may question your commitment to the project, or even your professionalism. Taking the time to clean up your surroundings, and yourself, will go a long way.

Check the Background

Cleaning up the background is one of the most important parts of preparing for any video conference. Others on the call will be spending a lot of time looking behind you, and what they see can make a big difference. Tidying up the area behind you is even more important if you do not have a traditional office in your home. If you work out of a bedroom or spare room, you might need to set up some draperies or temporary partitions to make the space look more like an office. Keep personal items out of sight, since they can detract from the professional appearance you are trying to create.

Place the Camera Properly

The placement of the camera is an important consideration, since it will affect the camera angle and what others on the video conference see. It is generally best to place your webcam on top of your computer monitor, since that position gives the best field of vision. Take the time to test the view from your webcam and make adjustments if necessary. You want the camera to show you from the waist up for the most professional appearance. Experiment with several different seating positions until you find the one that shows you in the best light.

Wear the Same Thing You Would at the Office

Since you are only visible from the waist up, you might think that the dress blouse and blazer with sweat pants is the perfect outfit, but it is best to dress as you would if you were meeting face to face. Dressing professionally will make you feel better, and that can help you project a stronger and more professional appearance. You should maintain a collection of quality business suits, even if you work at home. You can skip the high heels, but the rest of your outfit should be ready for the office.

Check the Sound

The video portion of the video conference is important, but the sound is just as critical. Be sure to test the sound of your own setup well in advance of the meeting and upgrade your microphone if necessary. If you do not already have one, a quality headset is a great investment. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, a headset will make those conversations more comfortable and make video conferences more comfortable and effective at the same time.

Whether you hold a video conference from your home office once a week or once a year, it is important to prepare for each one as you would a job interview. You want to put your best foot forward and project a professional appearance to your colleagues on the other end of the line. The professional appearance you project will go a long way, and it could even help you grow your business.

Watch for our certification and training course "Fashion Blogger Certification" to be released April 25th, 2014

Hot New Career Certifications

By popular DEMAND we have released two new certification courses. Visual Branding AND Jewelry Styling - these niche markets are ready for highly trained and qualified experts.

Are you ready to help clients in desperate need of style attention and great advice? You should be since so many people get their visual styling wrong. Our courses introduce the seasoned consultant AND the novice in the components of style, image and fashion. Training with us gets you into a business of your own doing what you love to do.

Help clients in their pursuit of success by creating a Visual Brand that is unforgettable and fast tracks your clients to more success. Check out Visual Branding Certification details and for those of you eager to understand facial shape, to give hair-style advice, to select THE best jewelry and accessories for the client then the Jewelry Stylist Certification course is a must for you.

Dress Code as a Niche Market

By Gillian Armour, AICI CIP

                                              Dress Code Violations

                                              Dress Code Violations

Here in San Francisco there is a big kerfuffle going on between city workers in the court system and their bosses. These court employees have been asked to step up their appearance, to be more presentable while on their jobs (i.e.: no flip-flops, sweatshirts, tank tops, shorts etc.). Their bosses have invoked a 1996 dress code that has been in place all these years but in recent times has not been enforced. Now it is being enforced and employees are not happy about it. They like their casual ways and wonder why no-one has ever said anything before. Do you think their employer (the people’s court) has a right to ask employees to dress better?

Here are a few of the reactions as reported in the press:

“If there is anything I hate, it is wearing a stuffy shirt and tie. This mode of attire is uncomfortable, old-fashioned, stodgy and a leftover from a completely bygone era.”

“If I had business at the court, I would not want to be confronted by a clerk who is dressed as though he is going mountain-climbing.”

“Perhaps dressing up for work is old-fashioned, but it is the least we should expect from these people who have good jobs while others are frantically searching for a job.”

And from an attorney: “I would like to voice my strong support for any effort that results in the appearance of judges, attorneys and court room staff looking and acting as professional as possible.”

He goes on to say: “Looking professional is not “old-fashioned” but instead shows respect for all persons who come before the courts…” and I say – well said!

As a working image consultant I know that my clients (both individual and corporate) deal with this issue on a day to day basis. They complain about the lax attitudes in dress standards where they work siting examples that cause an eye roll or two! Both my corporate and individual clients want a solution so we get to work. One of the first questions I ask is “do you have a dress code at work?” And the answer is usually the same – no. And sometimes, though rarely, “yes, but it’s never enforced.”

Well here’s the thing - if a company doesn’t have a valid dress code in place they have no recourse to admonish their employees who show up in the über casual styles of today. If, however, an appropriate, modern dress code is in place and reviewed with each new hire and all employees are required to adhere to it, then the workplace image is maintained. Studies have shown that the appearance of employees impacts the bottom line profit margins of companies. Clients like to see respectful attire on the firm’s employees and respond to this respect with positive emotions. We all know that a happy client makes a happy business.

As image consultants this is a valuable niche market for us. I have helped firms write appropriate and modern interpretations of dress codes. Some firms ask for dress casual guidelines, others for traditional executive dress standards. If you are consulting to executives, businesses, political entities or government offices then writing dress codes should be in your skill set.

Why I Want to Be an Image Consultant

by FSI Grad Student Jamilia Wallace - Trinidad & Tobago

(editors note: from time to time we are gifted with an extraordinary essay from a student and feel the need to share)

Image is everything. Whether we believe it or not, the world directly or indirectly judges a person on three basic things every day. Those three things are their appearance, behavior and communication. Therefore I firmly believe if a person is guided in these three areas of their lives they can become successful. Life can be made simple. Inherently it’s my view, once endeavoring upon a particular path, a person should find out the formula for success, work the formula, and in so doing attain success. Image Consultancy is no different, it’s a formula. It’s the formula that allows a person to enhance their appearance, behavior and communication skills for success. Thus I want to use this vehicle to influence people to attain success. It’s the way I live my life. I do not gamble away the things that can produce me the peace, joy and happiness for which my soul contends, rather I implement it.

In today's environment this skill (Image Consultancy) or as I would like to call it, this formula is necessary to guarantee success, as the world is ever changing, global boarders are being lifted and communication is ever more important. There has never in history been such a time like this, when there are so many business meetings, symposium, mergers and international companies originating, and there is no doubt in my mind that the people who will become successful are the people who understand how to communicate themselves to the world. I want to be a part of this interesting move. All I want to do is assist people in becoming successful, in this area of their lives.

I also believe that every human being was created with a high sense of purpose. However, too few people attain that level of success, due to life choices, generational circumstances or unplanned events that just happens. These events alters a person's life significantly and can have an impact on how the world views a particular person, or how they themselves view themselves. I want to help to create and recreate who they are, even when life deals them an unfortunate hand. Hence the reason I believe that people simply need to be endowed with the ability to tell their story to the world and I want to be a part of that process. I want to help them communicate who they are truly are. What's their vision of themselves, what's their vision for their life. What do they want the world to know about them. I can only do this as an Image Consultant. People do have great visions of themselves but sometimes may not really know how to achieve their vision, be it through styling or life goals and I want to be the person they come to for advice and inspiration. I want to influence people's life, their sense of personality and style in a positive way. It’s all about people for me. I want to genuinely help people tell their story to the world.

Another reason I want to become an Image Consultant is because so many people every day have to communicate themselves to the world and they just do not know how to present themselves nor are they cognizant of how they should behave in a particular settings. It’s not that they are not wonderful people, they just may not know how to, and even for the ones who have the idea, they just may want that extra tip that compliments their sense of self. I want to inspire people to tell their story, their vision of themselves to the world (we all have our own world, which usually is a subset of the greater universe. It’s all about story telling. I want to inspire people to become their best self.

Upgrade Your Look in 2014 - You'll Be on Trend!

The Economist's year end edition is out and with it the annual business trend report. In the business section you'll find Lucy Kellaway's informative article "After the Famine" in which she addresses some major trends taking shape in the business world. She makes several points that are important for we image consultants to understand and use in our work.

Firstly she writes "Women will never have had it so good." She states that "The smart, self assured (but not brash) young females who joined the workforce during the past decade will fit the new corporate mood exactly." She goes on to discuss the trend "they will be promoted, not just out of a craven desire to hit diversity targets, but more as a matter of course." So, how does this trend statement impact our work? We need to target these women who are now moving and rising up the ranks. They will need appearance counsel and advice.

The second trend she points to is the impact of employees social media images stating "Companies will start assessing people according to how well they do on social networks" and she elaborates on just what employees will be looking for - "A huge amount of time and emotional energy will be lavished on endless checking to see how you are faring against your rivals." This brings up another important opportunity for us - counseling clients on their head shots AND their visual branding image to help give them a competitive edge.

Finally she makes an important point about "two old-fashioned things" [that] will make a comeback in offices.

"The first is business clothes. Those who show up to work will be dressed for it." She sites Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook's Founder), (but the quote applies to most of tech-dom) "may cling on to his hoodie in 2014, but most of his employees at Facebook and others who work in Silicon Valley will have tired of coming to work looking as if they've just been doing the gardening." Ms. Kellaway then makes the final statement of her point "Jackets and dresses and proper shoes will be back in."

It is relevant that this is being reported as a significant trend because we have been seeing the upgrade in image and appearance percolating on the streets of San Francisco for the past six months. Men, in particular, have been dressing up and taking better care of their grooming issues.

Hopefully in 2014 the repulsive 'dress down" trend will begin its decline. No-one looks attractive when they look un-cared for.

Welcome to Brand YOU

by Gillian Armour

We are excited to announce a new course this season – Visual Branding (textbook for this course “Real People, Real Choices” by Michael Solomon, Greg Marshall and Elnora Stuart. Publisher: Prentice Hall) and here is a brief excerpt:

WELCOME TO BRAND YOU “Marketing is all around us. Indeed, some might say we live in a branded world. Value refers to the benefits a customer receives from buying a good or service. You have “market value” as a person—you have qualities that set you apart from others and abilities other people want and need. Therefore, the principles of marketing apply to people, just as they apply to coffee, convertibles, and computer processors. Sure, there are differences in how we go about marketing each of these, but the general idea remains the same: Marketing is a fundamental part of our lives both as consumers and as players in the business world.”

Do You Have A Brand?

                        Visual Brand Colors of The Pekoe Group

                        Visual Brand Colors of The Pekoe Group

Visual Branding in the image consulting world means to present yourself in a manner that establishes your image to the world via clothing, accessories, body language and behavior. It can be a way to imprint your status and level of success on the viewer. The viewer could be a potential partner, a future boss, an employee or a client. A visual brand ID sets you apart from others. You can define this ID via color, style, a signature piece of clothing.

Some people use their accents, their height or their hobby as a visual brand. Whatever sets you apart and attracts positive attention, and can market you and your skills, is called a visual brand. You are a brand – you are a product and you have value. If you did not take care of this brand by dressing well, grooming appropriately or marketing yourself via LinkedIn (catchphrase “Manage Your Professional Identity”) or Facebook the chances are your career could suffer.

There are many ways to visually brand. An example of how companies incorporate visual branding into their business via color – we all know the brown shade that UPS uses in their uniforms. Tiffany blue is a visual brand message sent via color. How about the Pekoe Group in NY whose dress code includes the directive that employees who are front and center with clients must sport the companies official colors of red or orange (wear a necklace, blazer, tie etc.)? Or, in Hawaii where attorneys can wear an aloha print pattern to work to establish the brand message of laid back.

People brand themselves in unusual ways as well. We all know that the dress code for tech workers is the sweatshirt. This may seem contrary to the rules of business dressing but for a certain segment of the technology industry wearing such apparel is an effective way to brand. The perceived marketing value is evident immediately – we get the brand message that this person is involved in the hottest market on the planet at the moment. On the other side of the branding spectrum think of all those young ladies who wear logos as status symbols. This too is a way to brand yourself and create a signature that states you have expensive taste.

Understanding these marketing principles and how they apply to the concepts of image branding, and how to improve both your own and your clients product images is at the heart of this course. After all - makeovers and image overhauls are the most obvious, everyday form of marketing and branding.

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Secrets of Image Consultants

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

How to Take a Selfie Portrait

By Gillian Armour, Certified Image Professional Selfie One of my clients, a very beautiful social creature, sent me a panicky text the other day. “Help!” She texted. “They (un-named entity) are interviewing me and I need a headshot. How do I take a good ‘selfie’?” Now, I have been in this business for a long time and get requests from left field all the time but this was a new one. It got me thinking; I really should have a tutorial about taking the perfect ‘selfie’. And that’s what today’s post is about.

SELFIE (which by the way just made it into the Oxford dictionary)

Defined as “a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand held digital camera or camera phone.” Wikipedia

We have all seen them, we have all taken one (usually multiple times to get just the right one). However most of us are not professional photographers and therefore our selfies just don’t show us at our best. Selfies are an important part of how we interact online these days. Dating sites, networking sites, professional headshots etc. all require us to put our best face forward. As an image consultant I am always chanting the mantra “your first impression should be the best impression.” Since it is my job to make sure clients look their best, here is my advice and a ten step list for getting the best selfie possible.

Note – these instructions are for taking a professional shot (not a ‘goofy, gee-I-love-myself-don’t-I-Iook-hot’ photo! Selfies should not take the place of a really professional headshot but are for the instant, gotta’ have a photo now situation like my clients above.

The following tips apply to portraits taken while standing in front of a mirror with a digital camera, or cellphone pointing forward (with an iPhone you can look into the phone and use the built in reverse-lens capability to take the snap.

1) Wear your best colors – if you know them. If you don’t know then choose a universal color that flatters and looks good on camera – coral, aqua, copper. Do your makeup (for guys, get groomed) and adjust your hair to its most flattering. 2) Head shot only – not full body. A selfie is a headshot that shows you at your best. 3) Make eye contact with the center of the camera lens. Smile with your eyes while thinking about something really fabulous (yes, mood does translate through the eyes and to the viewer). Don’t be shy or embarrassed about “modeling” for the camera; just don’t over-do the posing. The personality of a selfie should be fun, natural, authentic and a little quirky or irreverent. Too posy and you risk looking like you took a photo of yourself. 4) Extend your arm out (closer for a close up but not too close) and hold the camera 8 to 12 inches above the top of your head. 5) Lighting – find a natural light, not too bright, not fluorescent, but a natural light and turn your face toward it. 6) While looking in the mirror (or reverse camera angle on iPhones) find your best “side” – your face does have a better side so practice taking a photo with your face angled to the left and then one angled to the right and see which looks better. 7) Now you are ready to find your angles. Drop your shoulders and sit (or stand) up straight. This will make your neck long. While making eye contact with the center of the lens, drop your chin down toward your chest slightly. Hold your shoulders back and look up at the camera extended in front of you. At the same time press your tongue into the top of your mouth (this engages the neck muscles and helps take away any chin action you might have going on). 8) Smile big, or, if you are shy about your smile or want a more conservative shot, keep the smile slight but, either way, THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS and smile through your eyes. And, keep your lips relaxed. Don’t do a pout; you are not posing for a high school year book! 9) Take multiples and then choose the best one. Save it! 10) Most camera phones have edit features and you can also upload to your desktop and edit.

This may seem like a lot of work for one great photo but once you do a selfie correctly you will have no problem doing many the right way. Practice these ten steps until you have perfected the art of the selfie!

Technical tips:  

  1. Do not photograph with the sun or light behind you.
  2. If you are taking a selfie at night, or in a dark place, turn on your flash. There is always a risk of getting “red eye” when using flash so opt for a natural light selfie when possible.

A more complete video tutorial of these instructions is coming soon.

Check out all our courses at Resources:

Also take a peak at Wikicommons for over 100 examples of good, bad and indifferent selfies.

©Gillian Armour, AICI CIP