The Good Life: Hiring an image consultant
“My job is to show the client what works best for them"
by Alberta Venture Staff
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Photograph A.J. Valadka
“Do I look good in this?” It’s a question that, no matter who answers it, probably won’t produce a genuinely honest response. So stop torturing your spouse, friends and children with it, and instead shell out a few bucks to work with an image consultant. They’ll give you the straight goods, and tell you what needs fixing – as well as how to do it. “My job is to show the client what works best for them,” says Camille Kim, the owner of Calgary’s First Impressions Image Consulting.
That job includes everything from an initial consultation and colour analysis (to figure out which colours work best for your skin tone) to wardrobe analysis and personal shopping. And while you might think her clients are limited to vain magazine editors and insecure energy executives, she says they come in all types – and all ages. “I’ve had people buy my services for their son who’s just starting out from university. I’ve had husbands buy Christmas packages for their wives. And I have men and women in their 60s who are all about having fun and learning about what works best for them.”
And while looking better is obviously its own reward, Kim says the benefits can be far more tangible – and material. “I get a lot of people who are in between jobs, up for a promotion or just got a promotion that requires them to have a more authoritative image,” she says. “They get a greater degree of confidence, and hopefully they can move forward professionally or personally with that.”
It’s no great secret that Albertans tend, on the whole, to err on the side of underdressing, but Camille Kim says her experience confirms it. “I have employers contacting me with that same complaint. So, obviously, it’s an issue.” That’s particularly true of younger employees, who either look like they’re headed out for a day at the beach or on their way to a funeral. “I always find that they either dress really casual-sporty, or they move into something way too old and traditional for their age category,” she says. “They don’t tend to know what they can wear in between.”
But, she says, fixing this doesn’t need to cost people thousands of dollars. Instead, it’s about attitude, intention and a bit of savvy shopping. “If they just put a little more effort, if they just looked a little more put together, if they just looked a little more high-status, it would make a huge difference. And it can be done without tons and tons of money. It can be done.”