Image consultants gather once a year near the San Francisco airport for their annual AICI (Association of Image Consultants International) Educational Conference sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.
Everyone in the hotel that weekend knows there’s a pretty special group in town because the attendees all look spectacular! Women are dressed in textural neutrals or striking bold colors; shoes and handbags are enviable; hair and makeup is just right. Everyone would think these women couldn’t have a single image problem ever.
Or could they?
What the admiring strangers don’t know is that even though we’re image professionals, we’re just like everyone else. We’re experiencing issues and changes that include weight fluctuation, lifestyle changes, or coming into a part of our personality that wants to be expressed.
Here are a few things I learned when seven image professionals had breakfast together at the conference. All six consultants are members of the Monthly Marketing Bundle program or the MMBs as we call it. It’s a program I created seven years ago to offer support to consultants worldwide. It’s a magnificent group and it was very special to have this many of us in one place. I asked these MMB buddies what they’re doing differently in their wardrobe this year.
Pulling back the curtain
Marjory is always studying what a woman of a certain age should be wearing both for herself and for her clients. She said, “We want to look vital and interesting yet there doesn’t seem to be anything out there for us in the places we’re used to shopping in.” Her solution? She’s finding new resources in not-where-you’d-expect-it places like smaller boutiques and non-department stores.
Marjory has added a new neutral color to her wardrobe—shades of gray. She’s getting lots of compliments with the sophisticated new shades and they’re an easy backdrop to showcase her love for accessories.
Elena was voted 2nd runner up for “best legs” in her high school, but she says, “I can no longer hold that title.” She’s looking for fashion that doesn’t showcase her arms or her knees. Hot flashes are an issue in her life and she’s worried about summer coming up. She’s also had a shift in her thinking. She’s decided she doesn’t need a ton of clothes. Having quality pieces and fewer of them works best for her. She’s working on getting away from a corporate look and bringing more creativity into her outfits.
Adena is moving out of her house of ten years and into a new one. She’s facing all the things in her closet and asking herself if she wants to bring them with her to her new home. She sees things she hasn’t worn and is puzzled. “Why haven’t I worn these pieces like my leopard print pencil skirt?” She has great classic pieces but has noticed an internal change. “I’m getting more minimal in my style, paring down, getting a more sleek look and then wearing fun shoes and jewelry with them.”
Mariann is trying to get more casual in her dress. She said, “I tend to go too dressy because that’s my comfort zone. I want to do casual with some flair, a little something more than black pants and a T-shirt.” She lives in the Napa Valley where invitations to most things are casual—even in country clubs. “What does that even mean?” she said. “I want to be appropriate but still be me.” She’s getting into stores and looking for those few pieces she can add to her wardrobe that relate more to where she lives.
She shared a great travel tip. She bought a couple of no iron blouses at Chico’s and wore them all over Italy. She throws them in the washer and the dryer, pulls them out and they’re perfect.
Carolyn said, “I’m in a dilemma this year. I can’t dye my hair anymore because I’m allergic to the chemicals in the dye. I don’t have a lot of gray but it’s dull. Nothing can touch my scalp so my hair person is trying different things—highlights and weaves.”
She said, “I want to be more casual as well but I’m worried about what’s going on with my hair. That’s what’s got me not moving in a direction.”
Carol said, “I’ve always loved fashion and playing with it but I have trouble finding things in the stores. I do a lot of ordering online.” She has a strategy for herself and clients who are in the same situation. She orders a batch of things online and then goes through it and sends back what doesn’t work.
She’s got an amazing resource list of online solutions for the plus size woman. “As I get older, I want to be on trend, not trendy. I put my outfits up on my style blog and people comment because they can relate,” she said.
With that we glanced at our watches and it was time to get to our first class of the day.
Accepting change leads to compassion and solutions
When we have problems to solve for ourselves we’re reminded of what it feels like for our clients. As we learn to work with our changes, we have even more to offer them. We also know what a relief it is to get help from professionals. Yes, image consultants use image consulting services, too!
Learn more about these fabulous women.
Marjory DeRoeck The Image Studio Lafayette, CA
Carolyn Woodworth The Image Studio Lafayette, CA
Adena DiTonno Adena Designs San Mateo, CA
Elena Daciuk Styling Fabulous serving the San Francisco Bay Area
Carol Parker Walsh Evolve Image Consulting Camas, Washington
Mariann Layne Mariann Layne Facebook Napa Valley, CA