How to choose a personal stylist or image consultant

Question: I'm thinking of using a personal stylist but I am wondering whether it's the wrong time with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing and many of us working from home.

I understand that the new normal of working from home and sticking to our bubbles can translate into 'my image doesn't matter'. I would like to give you an alternative view. Many of us want to feel and look great in our clothes, from the casual clothes that we wear at home to the clothes we put on for our Zoom or Teams work calls. We want to feel appropriate for the situation that we find ourselves in - mainly home, sometimes on a walk and maybe the odd night out at a restaurant. We also want to feel confident about the way we look.

We use our clothes to express ourselves, our identity and how we feel. This should not be discounted in the current climate where we are at home for most of the day and seeing very few people.

In 2012, researchers from Northwestern University in the US found that wearing specific articles of clothing had an effect on the wearer's psychology and performance. The researchers concluded that clothes have a symbolic meaning for the wearer and can affect behaviour. When we wear clothes that we have attached relevance and meaning to these clothes can influence our psychological state. This is called "enclothed cognition." Putting on a uniform like a lab coat for example led the wearer to act in a way that corresponds to the item that they were wearing. The study results show that what we wear affects our mental state.

The work you undertake with a personal stylist or image consultant now on your colouring, body shape and clothing will continue to pay dividends long after the pandemic and working from home is over. This time gives you a wonderful opportunity to develop and hone your style at your own pace.

I do want to feel better in my clothes and I do feel stuck in a style rut. How do I go about finding the right personal stylist for me?

Tip 1 - Know your budget

Personal stylists charge at the lowest £50 per hour for an hourly consultation right up to £800 for a two-hour consultation depending on their level of expertise, qualifications and the demand for their services. Many image consultants charge on average between £200 - 400 for a colour analysis or body shape consultation. These sessions will include a colour swatch if applicable and bespoke style information after your session.

Wardrobe consultations and Personal Shopping consultations average between £350 - 600 for a three/four-hour consultation, again depending on the level of experience, qualifications and the demand of the personal stylist. These sessions sometimes include a thirty-minute consultation call prior to the session, and also may include some investigation into your style and the style that you are hoping to achieve.

Tip 2 - Know what you want to achieve

Is it a full style transformation you are after or do you want to incorporate more colour into your life, for example. Knowing what area's you want to hone in on will help you pick the right personal stylist for you.

Maybe you know that clothes and styling are not your strong points and you suspect you may want to work with a personal stylist on a longer-term basis.

Tip 3 - Do your research on the personal stylist

Research the personal stylist you are thinking about working with to get a feel about who they are, where they are based, how they work, what their qualifications are, their background and the type of clients they work well with.

Tip 4 - Is the stylist accredited and who did they train with?

There is no governing body for the image industry but it is accredited by FIPI and AICI. As there is no governing body anyone can set up as a personal stylist without any appropriate qualifications. FIPI and AICI provide personal stylists and image consultants with training and competency requirements that they must meet. You can expect a level of excellence from these stylists and consultants. Accredited stylists have to take on a certain level of training and a minimum number of client consultations every year to stay part of these professional bodies.

Tip 5 - Do your research on the services they offer

Does the personal stylist offer a complete personal styling or image consultancy package: personality, colour analysis, body shape, wardrobe and personal shopping? Some image consultants provide full image and coaching services which include executive presence and personal branding training, as well as training on etiquette, body language, tone of voice and other parts of communication.

Ask your chosen stylist if they work with clients on an ongoing basis and what their client retention rate is. This will give you a good insight into how valued their work is.

Does your chosen stylist offer a support package after you finish working together? Maybe they specialise in one or two areas that you want to concentrate on.

Tip 6- Look at their reviews and case studies

Read the reviews their clients have provided on Google and Facebook. Read the testimonials and case studies on the personal stylist's website. You will get valuable insights from their testimonials. These will provide you with a real feel for the personality, approach and level of success of the stylist.

Tip 7 - Question what the 'award-winning' personal stylist got their award(s) for

There are many hugely talented personal stylists and image consultants that have won awards based on the quality of their work as stylists. There are also stylists that have won awards for other things not related to the quality of their styling work. Examples include community awards, business awards and website design awards. Knowing what the awards were given for will help you get a clearer picture of the stylist you are working with.

Also, there are many stylists that are very talented that do not have awards as the image industry in the UK does not currently present awards to its members.

Tip 8 - Get 3 quotes and talk to the stylists on the phone

To ensure you get the best personal stylist for you shop around and talk to the stylists on the phone. Ask them what the sessions involve, what aftercare they provide if any, and what other benefits you get from being a client of theirs.

Tip 9 - Read their blogs and listen to their podcasts if they have one

Another way to get an insight into which stylist you want to work with is to read their blogs. Do you like their tone of voice and how they present themselves through their words and images?

Tip 10 - Follow them on social media

Follow the personal stylist on social to get a feel of their style and knowledge. Join any free group they offer to see their styling work in action.

Today there is very little services difference between many image consultants and personal stylists. Someone who describes themselves as an image consultant will be trained in colour analysis as a minimum and is more likely to be accredited. I describe myself as both because I offer personal styling and I am also accredited and trained in style personality, image coaching, personal branding, style consultations (body and face shape), wardrobe consultations and personal styling.

I hope you feel more empowered to find the right personal stylist or image consultant for you.



Book a style consultation:

Gain confidence in your clothes and feel better about yourself by booking a style consultation or bespoke style transformation package with me. Email for a no-obligation chat.

Lizzie Parsons Image consultancy offers intelligent style services for a confident, authentic image. 

Our mission: We give intelligent women the tools and support to define their style, dress confidently and shop with purpose, so they reduce waste and love their clothes.

Our vision: For every woman to present herself to the world with authenticity and confidence.

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