Dear Kathi,

I haven’t worked with an image consultant before but have often considered using this type of service. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know exactly what would happen if I did use an image consultant. Could you explain the process to me?

The main reason I haven’t used an image consultant is that I am nervous about the expenditure. I feel like I spend a lot on clothes that I don’t wear, for one reason or the other, and would like to buy the right items the first time around. I hate to shop!

Meryl, entrepreneur in Encinitas


There are many people who do not know what an image consultant actually does while on the job. I understand why you might be uncomfortable but there is no need for embarrassment. Working with any type of personal consultant is always a learning process.

Keep in mind that image consultants will operate slightly differently from each other but typically charge for their time by the hour. Although an Image consultant might seem like an unnecessary luxury, in the long run most people end up spending less for their wardrobes while using a consultant.

They know which items to buy in the future and are less likely to bring home the mistakes that frequently entered their closets before. Once you understand what it feels like to wear clothes that really work for your body and image, you will never be tempted to buy sale items simply because they are discounted! Instead, you will know exactly what department to shop in and which items will serve you in the long run, meaning fewer clothes to buy and more to wear often!

Some Image consultants will interview you, take notes about your size,determine your needs and actually shop for you. They will meet you and help you locate the pieces they feel will create an upgraded image. They base their choices on your body shape and coloring, as well as recommend or accompany you to a hair stylist, and, if needed, an optical store. They may be with you every step of the way or simply refer you to other hair/makeup/optical professionals who are most appropriate for your needs.

As a professional organizer and image consultant, I always start with the client’s closet and wardrobe at hand. I first assess what the client owns -which items work and don’t work for him or her.

Items that don’t fit or are the wrong shape or color are typically donated to others who might benefit. All good items in disrepair or dirty are scheduled for alterations or cleaning.
As a general rule of thumb, people only wear 20 percent of the clothes that they own, so there are usually a lot of clothes that leave the closet. Think about which items have not left your wardrobe for over a year or even the last six months. These are likely suspects for donation. If you haven’t worn them, often you know instinctively that they don’t help your image.

Based on the essential elements for creating a balanced wardrobe, I, as the Image consultant create a list noting the already owned, appropriate items and the items that are needed. A game plan is formed based on the client budget. I then pre-shop and rack potential pieces from the list.

The client meets me at the store to try on the clothes and find the perfect fit. Nothing is purchased unless it is a “wow” or has the potential to be made perfect in shape and fit.
Regardless of an Image consultant’s personal process, most will choose a basic color palette for each client. This provides a solid guideline for the client to determine future wardrobe decisions. The ultimate completed wardrobe will mix and match, with numerous variations.

Finding clothes that flatter will boost your confidence and help you develop a sense of style. A good Image consultant will teach you the rules to follow for future purchases and how to coordinate your new wardrobe in the future.

You will feel really good about your appearance and be able to make proper clothing decisions. You will learn to how to camouflage your weak spots and appreciate your body as it is.
We all have good parts and parts that could use de-emphasizing.That is what an Image consultant does: Teaches you how to draw attention away from your challenge areas. Shows you your assets and how to highlight them. That is fashion in its highest form.

Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]

San Diego Professional Organizer