Introduction: A business woman or man may want a few "trendy" pieces for fun, vacation, or certain social events, however the classic or timely wardrobe, with updates, remains pretty much the same. An Image Consultant must be aware of trends, but most of the clients who are concerned about wardrobes will require the classic pieces as basic closet fare.
The trends that seem to repeat in various forms every few years also move across generational divisions. What is trending for the Boomers, is not necessarily trending for Gen. Y or Gen. X. That's a good thing. Trendy fashions for the younger set rarely works for the older crowd. There are also differences in what is valued. There are certain groups who refuse to wear anything that comes from an animal, while others want only what is made from renewable resources. The trends will run through colors, fabrics, styles, and seasons. They come and go, come again and go again.
But the classics remain steady. There are updates that occur but those timely styles, cuts, colors and uses are still demanded by those who are actively engaged in work that requires a professional image and social events that demand a great look. The basic wardrobe must be simple and versatile.
Accessories go along the same trends as clothing. The bag, scarf, watch, tie, jewelry and shoe should support the basic and classic wardrobe with a few fun trends thrown in once in awhile. Every Image Consultant has to understand and attend to the whim of a client as long as that client puts together a wardrobe that will stand the test of time first. Those classic pieces should be excellent in quality, and made to last a lifetime, because, they never go out of fashion.
A. The classic basis for everyone's closet consists of a few core items. No matter the trend, no matter who in the world is trending it or wearing it, or not wearing it, it is a dangerous rope to grab onto as you sail across the isles of your favorite shopping haunts. Look. Choose carefully. Then leave. Don't allow yourself to fill a bag with things that will be out tomorrow.
The list that every woman should hold in her head when considering a new clothing purchase should include the little black dress, commonly referred to as the LBD, the basic black jacket, which is currently found in leather with little zippers curved and fitted to the body lines, a good pair of jeans, a printed dress, often a wrap, a top notch white shirt, a good pencil skirt that fits well or a slight A-line if the body shape demands it, a piece of gold jewelry, a black bag that has an opening straight across to accommodate your tablet, a black or red heel, a trench coat that is fitted, possibly double breasted and belted in white or other muted color with a high end accent scarf or three or four. You also need a pair of flats, a dressy sandal, a dark pair of slacks, a nice pullover sweater in gray or silver and a boot, low or high.
A man's list is similar. Every professional man needs a navy blazer, a pair of khaki chinos, dark brown brogues, wingtips or not, a pair of black cap toe oxford shoes, white dress shirt, light blue oxford cloth button down shirt, a brown belt, a colorful pocket square, beige trench coat, cashmere pullover sweater, a navy suit, gray wool trousers, a middle of the road width tie, a polo shirt and a nice watch. For weekends get a good pair of jeans and some white Tees. Again these basic pieces should be top of the line, made to wear forever, look sharp, and cut well. Want something trendy? Fine, but only one item at a time and when it is out, get rid of it.
The biggest information many people don't think about is to get each piece tailored to fit. Rarely does any item fit exactly and exactly is how it must fit. Adding pieces that give you more versatility is ok, but stick to the basic colors. Putting money into a red shirt is just wrong for any man. The more muted the color the more versatile it is. Knowing how to clean your clothing is essential. You can ruin an expensive purchase by not reading the labels.
B. The important thing to know about trends in fashion is where to learn about them. If there is any trend, in the image consulting business you want to know immediately what it is. But because there are so many regional pop-up trends, you have to be careful. Know the top fashion trends set by the big players in fashion and not the celeb fashion faux paus.
ELLE is the first place you want to go. The magazine in print or better, on line, will keep you current of everything going on in fashion, beauty and accessories for women and men. Then hit Vogue. They both feature up to the minute fashion, what is going on around the world and offer videos. Another magazine on line is Marie Claire. It is less high fashion and keeps you abreast of celeb news as well. Don't miss Glamour. It is similar to Vogue and offers on line viewing too.
Other lesser known on line sites are Refinery 29, which also watches trends in entertainment. They have lots of hairstyling tips and interviews from fashion industry people. It calls itself a newsletter that you can get on a weekly basis and it even offers a specific location search which is fun.
Who What Wear, on line, has lots of fun sections. The current postings even show fashion you could purchase at high end department stores. They offer videos to help you and have a great focus on seasonal trends. The Daily Look website is different but up to date. It offers a subscription fashion service. You sign up for a monthly fee and get a personal stylist who sends you up to eleven pieces and accessories based on your style and you can decide in your own home if you want to keep the items or mail them back. You only keep what you want to buy and your monthly fee is subtracted from that total. If you purchase every month it is a free service.
You may not believe this but one of the greatest websites for a price conscious person who is fashion savvy is Target Style. They set up blocks of outfits and home wares that go together and with sizes that cover every girl or guy. If you want to help a client on a real budget, this is a site you can show them about for both a reference or for help when searching for something special. Cliché Magazine is trendy, follows New York Fashion Week and also many entertainment stars. They do lots of interviews and have some giveaways from time to time. The Style Line is a different set up. They do stories that keep you moving into the world of fashion leaders, new designers and new ideas with beautiful photographs of beautiful clothes. It breaths some real life into the fashion and beauty industries and shows parts of the industry that keeps it humble in many ways.
Another fun site is Clothes Encounters run by Jenn Im, a Korean-American video blogger. Her videos on YouTube go viral on a regular basis. She is exciting and can show how to change up any wardrobe with creativity and using what she calls "fashion hacking." These sites often change in who owns them and edits them so understand that as you search for them.
C. Sites for men are just as plentiful but have more of a focus on the clothing than the fashion news. Most sites pull together styles that have a theme, and designers that make clothing for that theme. One is called I Am Galla run by Adam Gallagher. He travels the world and blogs about what he finds, thinks and wants to inspire men to wear. It is worth checking out. Another site is Oliver Spencer who focuses on basics with a very modern twist in muted tones and looks to be very appealing to the younger professionals.
Oki-ni offers styles that range from casual to business and social and features well-made brands of clothing, shoes and accessories and jewelry. Far Fetch is the place for designer suits. They show suits from around the world and though they are pricey they are made to last, and they offer sales at times. Matches Fashion shows great looking styles that shout power. They show designers from around the globe and how to put pieces together to look terrific.
There are other sites that highlight only shoes or sunglasses or jewelry but doing a search on line to view the happenings of the fashion industry is the fastest and best way to really stay in the know. You might even find a designer that works well in your region that you hook up with. It is possible you might want to keep a store room with some of those basic styles on hand in sizes that are common in your work. This is an alternative to an area where well-made high end clothing pieces are difficult to find.
D. Another place for an image consultant to stay abreast of what is going on in her field is to link up with an international association or organization. Association of Image Consultants International is the go to organization for image consultants. Found on almost every continent AICI claims to be a not for profit organization for advancing professionalism of the image consultant and promotion of and recognition of expert image consultants. Those who belong to the AICI have various businesses with many different niches. The AICI seeks to guide professionals in the beauty and image consulting areas to achieve their goals authentically, with credibility and confidence. Their mission is to support and bring together individuals and companies who do image consulting. They have international conferences and other events as well as a strong on line presence and a magazine you can subscribe to.
Every top image consulting company and most others seem to belong to the AICI. It has consolidated so much within its walls. They offer training, there are image consulting institutes associated with them and they strive to bring the image consultant to more than the rich and famous, with so much to offer even a small town consultant.
Summary: Knowing how to stay abreast of fashion trends, where to find up to date looks for the classic wardrobe and how new designers are changing the industry is important to every image consultant. It is as easy as clicking away on your computer to stay educated and informed. No consultant needs to look any farther than the computer screen to update training, find out what about new products, sustainable fabrics and fun ways to change up the classic looks.
The Image Consultant is not alone. There are schools, training, and mentors out there waiting for your call. There are consultants everywhere, yet the need continues to grow the field. There are no excuses to be ignorant about what is happening in New York, Paris or London. The computer has changed lives everywhere and now it is possible for you to hook up with a new designer, and new clothing maker, or a new fashion house any time. There are people who spend their hours every week writing and photographing wonderful articles just for you to read; for free. Go on line and sign up to get their weekly news in your business mailbox on-line.
Take advantage of all of it and stay on top of all things fashion. Your clients expect you to be the expert and to know. They don't. That's why they come to you. Don't let them down.