My Own Image Anxieties

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My Own Image Anxieties

It’s interesting, reading the comments to my last post on what to pack, that people think that because I’m an image consultant I’d have the whole dressing thing completely sorted and never worry about it.

What I didn’t realise before I trained to become an image consultant was:

  1. You can never have a bad day (in public). What happens when you’re in the queue in the supermarket in your baggy old sweats when you meet an old or potential client? (10 Comfy Casual Outfit Ideas You Want to Copy Now)
  2. You are trained to look great, so you HAVE to look great ALL the time.
  3. You are trained to understand Appropriateness – therefore, there is no excuse to get a dress code wrong, or dress badly.
  4. At an AICI meeting, you are being judged by your peers, we’re always told to “walk the talk”, so this is a chance to see who really understands and can put into practise what we do.
  5. You have to be authentic and yourself, but also be approachable and appropriate for your client. I tend not to wear my more avante-garde pieces around more conservative clients as it would scare them (they may think that I’m going to want to dress them like that).
  6. Oh, and did I say – you can’t make MISTAKES! (Well, there is a lot of internal pressure for me, not to make mistakes).  We have to “have it all together, all the time” which is why when Duchesse mentioned that many of the ICs she met dress fairly blandly, that I can understand, they may go classic as it’s much easier than developing a more ‘out there’ style, or making a faux pas.

The stakes are higher for us, than for our clients (I don’t expect my clients to dress well before I’ve met them, they don’t know what I know).

Style is a learning experience, and one that I never stop learning, and my style never stops changing (and that makes it interesting too).

Personal Stylist, Personal Colour Analysis and Image Consultant training with Imogen Lamport of the Academy of Professional Image www.aopi.com.au online and classroom training available

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17 Comments

  • Imogen – as a perfectionist from way back, I can relate to your anxiety! But seriously, you will look great no matter what you wear, simply because you are so attuned to your image. Knowing all the rules makes it that much easier. It’s not your job to knock everyone’s socks off every minute of the day (though I have every confidence you will do that too), simply to be your stylish self. Kxo

  • I can’t even BEGIN to imagine how nerve-wracking it must be for you, Imogen. You’re a brave lady, and I admire you! I’d be quaking in my boots at a conference for image consultants.

  • Yes, if you are in the appearance business, the stakes are high. On the other hand, the image consultant I worked was not like me at all in terms of style. I asked for her because she was my age- and she was fantastic except for one thing. She wanted me to get rid of my Hermes silk shirts, b/c she did not like prints and preferred very fitted tops. I just ignored that bit.

    And I’d be kind of relieved to find one in yoga pants at the supermarket; you are human, right?

  • KLine – thanks for your faith in me!

    Sal – yep – you got it!

    Duchesse – Yes – definitely human, and am known to go to the hardware store in painting clothes! Also, when I visit the vet, I wear yoga pants, my dogs just shed too much hair, so no point in wearing anything nice!

  • How refreshing to hear such candour. I had no idea that an image consultant would feel the slightest bit of anxiety about clothing.
    Being a passionate student of fashion, I am particularly interested in how people make instant impressions based on how we are dressed. I am very conscious of the clothing choices I make and how I am treated – whether I am dressing as an artist, an editor, a mother or as a wife.

  • I would love it if you would wear jeans and a tee when we meet. It would make me feel less pressure to impress you.;-)

  • I can’t imagine the pressure! I guess it works both ways. If I wear a skirt and heels to volunteer at my sons’ school I get comments like “why are you all dressed up?” But if I wear denim or (rarely) track bottoms on the school run, no one says a word, as if that’s how it should be. I guess it’s all in the eye of the person judging “who” we should be. Have a great time on your trip!

  • I’m with Tessa, on the opposite end of the style spectrum, I guess. Style where I live/work/volunteer ranges from “LL Bean-casual” at the high end to just plain garden-variety slob (ripped jeans, t-shirts with supposedly funny slogans on them, ratty shoes/sneakers, almost all of it too tight, ill-fitting or just plain inappropriate) at the low end. People here think it’s weird to get dressed up “just because”.

    (And yet…I still *want* to!)

  • Christine — we must be neighbors!

    I’m sorry you are worried, but if you think about as women we are all worried about how we will be “taken” or perceived.

    I’m sure you will be wonderful. Your advice here has been quite on target so as long as you “get” it, you “got” it.

    Please relax and have a great trip!

  • Maybe this came up in your previous post already as a comment from you or someone else, but I too have noticed ( an example ), that although going to a hairdresser to get a nice hairdo, the hairdresser herself might have a really `bad´hairdo. I always keep wondering why it is so. This applies to many other professionals too. I´m only saying this to calm you down, and not to worry so much about your wardrobe and. I hope you understand what I mean ( English not being my native language).

  • I can appreciate your dilemma as can most other readers! For all of us, in whatever area we are seen to ‘specialise in’, we’re under added pressure to ‘perform’, and sometimes that can lead to serious lack of enjoyment of some events as a result! That’s a great pity.

    Don’t worry, everyone who’s ever been to school feels qualified to criticise teachers, just as everyone who’s ever voted is qualified to criticise politicians….. yes, we all do it! Sometimes it’s a good learning experience for all of us to be on the ‘other side’ of the fence (e.g.doctors report amazing increases in their own level of empathy after being a patient in hospital, for instance!) You might be able to use this experience of ‘performance anxiety’ and break it down into useful elements to analyse and address? Even use it to break down some social barriers whilst you’re AT the conference? Sometimes the most refreshing thing to find in another person is a willingness to be vulnerable (as someone pointed out earlier); if you were to fall into conversation with another delegate and confess your feeling of fear and inadequacy you might actualy make some friends and have some REAL conversations (instead of looking around and sizing up everyone’s outfits and mistakes, which is what you’re fearing that others WILL be doing, and which is realistically quite likely for many people there. After all, it’s a huan instinct, when we feel self-conscious or inadequate, to prop our self-esteem up by comparing ourselves favourably to others. Perhaps this is a great opportunity to harness that fear, confront it, refuse to stoop to ‘bitching about others’ in a situation where there could well be many subtle opportunities to do so, and try to focus on getting the most out of the talks and so on?

    Easy advice, and I’m not implying that you WOULD do these things at all; merly getting a bit psychological about the whole thing…..

    Have a great time, and the more you think OUTSIDE yourself and about others around you, the more enjoyment you’ll get, the more people you’ll enjoy, and the less you’ll worry. Good luck, and thanks for your great blogs – I love reading and looking at them!

    roz

  • Interesting. I can completely get that. After all, a decorator doesn’t necessarily have to have her clients over to her house, but image consultants are never off the hook, cause everywhere you go, there you are!!

  • Thanks everyone for your comments – don’t worry, I do not spend all my time focusing on what I wear! I get dressed and then get on with life.

  • As someone who as spied Imogen while out shopping in Doncaster *blush* – I can tell you that it’s not the clothes that maketh the woman it’s the confidence you have wearing them and it wouldn’t matter if it was trackies or a business suit, you still would wear them well to an outsider because you look like someone who is happy, confident and comfortable no matter what you wear!

    Have a great and safe trip too!

  • Zizzy- why didn’t you come and say hello? I would love to meet you!

    See, I knew I could never leave the house looking crap!

    Belette – yesterday when I arrived in from Australia, Deja Pseu and Karen of a Certain Age were at the airport to meet me – they have seen me in t-shirt and jeans, with only about 1 hours sleep in 40 hours – I can tell you, I’m not in the least bit scary!

    It depends how hot it is on what I’ll wear, but I won’t be scary – don’t worry about that. No pressure to impress.

  • Oh dear, Imogen,that is dreadful. I collected a dear friend from Argentina when we had both flown to Paris for a conference – I know the 6 hours from Montréal is nothing, much as I hate planes – and he was falling asleep on my shoulder at the opening event in the evening… It is hard to cross time zones AND change hemispheres.

    This week (big work rush, but popping in to websites as per a virtual water cooler chat) I wrote an utterly garbled sentence on La Duchesse’s blog (Passage des perles). Do hope no client sees that, though it is utter paranoia to think they will.

    As for earthquakes, I studied in central Italy, so minor ones were as common as blizzards here. What happened to the people in Abruzzo is otherwise shameful.

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