© 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?

Screen Grab: NeimanMarcus.com

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.