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By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM

Photo from studentartguide.com

Photo from studentartguide.com

People get caught up in the importance of first impressions on others.  But wait.  Think about it.  The first impression is really on ourselves, as we look down and see or feel the clothes on our body; as we see ourselves in the mirror or in a window glass.  The way we present ourselves to be perceived, in front of the mirror or in front of others, starts with a line–the silhouette outline of our clothed body’s shape.

As I work with so many women, and see so many articles about negative body image, it occurs to me that nearly everybody has some degree of a negative body image.  We perceive something about our body shape that we perceive as “bad,” less than ideal, making us feel inferior.  And it’s not just women.  Men also fall victim to negative body image, to the extreme of  BDD–Body Dismorphic Disorder, wherein they perceive something about themselves as absolutely hideous and go to incredible extremes to rid themselves of that image.  One fellow I am aware of does not allow a mirror in the house, will not walk in front of any store window.  Another man smashed his nose with a hammer to rid himself of its shape. Now that’s extreme!

As I shop with clients in a mall or am out with friends at the movies, we so often see bodies of all shapes and sizes dressed in clothes several sizes too small, stretched tightly over the body, without an eighth of an inch of ease anywhere.  The silhouette outlines every body crevice, curve and bulge–sometimes bulge after bulge.  People tell me “that’s more exposure, more information about the body than I really want to see.”  You have to wonder, just how do these individuals perceive themselves?

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Whether perceptions or self-presentations are due to ignorance or arrogance, shapes can be shocking!  Whatever the case, I highly recommend we learn to be kind to ourselves and kinder to others–more respectful.  It’s really so easy. It’s a matter of ease.

We simply need to select clothing styles and sizes that actually accommodate our body, plus ease.  Then the clothes slip easily, smoothly over the body.  It works!  This Spring and Summer, avoid wearing tight t-shirts and pants.  If the clothes are made of all cotton, buy a size larger.  It will shrink with the first washing.  Both men and women can comfortably and attractively camouflage midriff bulge, a tummy, or bigger bottom by layering with a larger, lightweight shirt-jac or duster.

Take a good look at the difference in the attention going to the body of this model wearing a form fitting dress with basic fitting ease, on the left, as compared to a looser-fitting dress with added fashion ease, on the right.  With a little more fitting or fashion styling ease, the clothing silhouette becomes dominant and the body becomes subordinate.  You not only look slimmer, but you feel slimmer, more confident, and able to forget about the shape of your body.

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Our clothing choices reflect and affect us.  We know this.  When we gradually learn to use our clothing lines, shapes, colors, textures, and patterns to reflect or communicate our personality traits, our values, interests, roles, and goals, that’s image from the inside out.  When we create an attractive image on the outside and experience a positive response from others, that’s a positive effect of image from the outside in.  Image management leads to the best of both.  In the months ahead, let’s get up, get ready, and get out with enough ease in the fit of our clothes, confident and able to forget about ourselves at work or play.

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Oh, that we could all feel this good about ourselves, for life! Speaking of which, Conselle’s Style For Life Retreat is coming up May 18-23, 2015.  We have put together the ultimate experience that is educational, entertaining, and empowering.  During this exciting 6-day retreat in the beautiful Mountainlands of Utah, you will learn image strategies and skills you’ll use for the rest of your life.

“It was amazing. What I learned [on day one] exceeded all expectations for the whole Retreat.  I am so glad I came.”
Brenda, Ohio
“Awesome, fun, so needed. Fascinating. Empowering!”
Bonnie, Utah
For detailed information and testimonials, visit Style For Life Info and click on the link at the bottom of the page to download the brochure or call 801-224-1207 and talk to Kathy.

By Dani Slaugh, Conselle Affiliate

Closeup portrait of smiling young girls isolated on white

Practice consulting with volunteer clients who are extremely different from you.

One of the challenges that image consultants face is knowing how to dress other people according to their personal coloring, figure variation, personal style and lifestyle.  Dressing yourself MAY COME NATURAL TO YOU, but teaching others what works for them, and not necessarily you, is not so easy.  Once you’ve done your homework…because you have taken the advice in tip number 2 and have mastered Wardrobe Strategies…it’s time to implement what you’ve learned.  The best way to do this is by asking a few people if you could “practice” on them.  Because you don’t charge them a fee, you’ll likely have no shortage of volunteers, that’s why we call these no fee clients “volunteer clients”.

Choose people who are both in your target market and different from you in terms of personal coloring, figure variation, personal style and/or lifestyle.  I have dark blonde hair, blue eyes, light skin, average height and build, and my personal style has a wide range.  My volunteer clients were so different from me!  One had black hair, very light skin, with hazel green eyes, a taller/larger build, with a very classic style.  My other volunteer client had dark brown hair, eyes, and skin, petite build, with a sporty/romantic personal style.  Boy did I learn from these two!  They were as different as night and day and expanded my understanding and appreciation for other women.   For example, I learned how to enhance the personal coloring of someone who is not blonde.    I learned about the fitting challenges that exist for so many people who are either taller than average or petite.  And personal style takes on a whole new light when considering such different personalities and backgrounds.  What a way to put my education to the test!  And what a great way to be prepared for the variety of clients I was soon to work with.

Practicing your skills on people who are vastly different from you is a wonderful way to help your clients look fabulous, which in turn, makes you a fabulous image consultant.  I couldn’t have done it without Conselle’s courses, however.  For MORE INFORMATION on how you can become a certified image consultant, click HERE.

A great education never goes out of style.

By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM

What about black?  Yes, some advise a black blazer, black pencil skirt, black pants, black, black, and more black.  Next we read, “No more black,” “Don’t wear black,” and the idea is passed on without thinking, from one fashionista to another until it’s become the trend.  So don’t believe it.  There’s no logic and it’s limiting.  The reality is that black never left!  Black is a fantastic wardrobe neutral color, looking modern, mixing well with every other color, is relatively slimming, and doesn’t show soil.  Black is a fail-safe option for business but it works with daytime denim and for evening too.  Wear black with one of your personal body colors and you’re beautifully part of the color scheme with your clothes.

Do the same with the other rich, darker wardrobe neutrals.  You’re not stuck with or without black.  Consider charcoal, navy, brown, gray, olive, forest, teal, plum, burgundy, and rust to name a few.  Take delight in your options.  Then look around for a patterned print in a color scheme that you love, that includes your choice for core pieces and start building that perfect cluster of clothes easy to work with and easy to wear everywhere.  Below are a few options we found from Ralph Lauren.

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Choose wardrobe essentials in basic black or whatever rich wardrobe neutral color you prefer.  With these in your closet, you will discover that many of your better quality clothes will easily intermix with them.  As you add on, look for defining pieces that speak to your personal style.  Add-ons might include a stylish pin-stripe vest if you like, or a chevron stripe sweater, or a colorful cardigan, and definitely patterned pieces that give life to solid colored basics.  Arrange this basic cluster of clothes in your closet according to the Style Scale® and you will know what goes with what, and where it takes you looking like you belong.  To get involved with creative, real-life clusters and wardrobe styling that works for you, join me for our Style for Life: Image Enhancement Retreat scheduled next for May 18-23. Love to have you with us!

By Dani Slaugh, Conselle Affiliate

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Before you can hope to build serious momentum in your business, become the master of the product you are selling.  Remember the book, The Little Engine That Could?   The poor little train full of dolls, toys, and good things for the boys and girls on the other side of mountain is stranded.  The big engines refuse to help.  The “Little Engine That Could”, who had never even been over the mountain, comes to the rescue. With a positive “I think I can” mantra and some hard work, that little engine eventually gains the momentum to pull the stranded train up and over the mountain, bringing good things to the kids on the other side.

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Mastering the image consulting industry is a huge challenge!  It requires positive thinking, hard work, and a knowledge of psychological, social, physical and artistic aspects of image.  That’s a big load to carry my little engines!  Picture your clients, the wonderful people on the other side of mountain waiting for you to deliver them life transforming treasures.  Oh how they want those treasures!  To gain enough momentum to actually get to them, you need to master the material. Otherwise, you are not only disappointing your clients, but yourself and your own reputation…and potentially marring the image consulting profession in general.  So if you really want to know your business, you best do your homework.  AICI, Association of Image Consultants International, offers a list of reference materials as suggested reading for the certification exam.  There are a number of references listed there.  If you only read one book, read the book that will help you pass the exam, Wardrobe Strategies for Women by Judith Rasband.  This book is not only listed 4 times by AICI, but the author also contributed to the AICI Key Terms of the image industry which are on the AICI exam.  Wardrobe Strategies is the one comprehensive book that includes everything you need to know to pass the exam.  Master this one book and you will gain the momentum to have a fabulous and fulfilling career as an image consultant.  Or you may choose to learn directly from the author herself at the Conselle Institute of Image Consulting and be able to say “I knew I could!”

Get the Wardrobe Strategies book HERE.

LEARN ABOUT CONSELLE’S INSTITUTE OF IMAGE MANAGEMENT HERE.

Find the list of Recommended References for the AICI exam under Appendix A here:  http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.aici.org/resource/resmgr/AICI_Candidate_Handbook.pdf

By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM and Dani Slaugh, Conselle Affiliate

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RE-IGNITE YOUR PASSION FOR FASHION with an education that never goes out of style!

Most people think that they should just naturally know how to dress well.  Yet there are so many who would admit that they don’t.  There’s no shame in this.  Some people are naturally better at math and science, some better at the arts. If these skills don’t come naturally, does that mean we just give up and never learn math, science, art, etc.?  Obviously not, or there would be hundreds of teachers standing in the unemployment line.  Skills that don’t come naturally to some can be learned with the right teaching conditions.

Self presentation skills are no different.  Unfortunately, this is subject that many people didn’t learn as children or teens.  They need for an educated instructor to teach them how to look great in any and every situation as adults.    Could that instructor be you?  Does dressing well come easily to you?  How about dressing other people well? Let’s go back to grade school again.  Just because you’re a math wiz it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a fabulous math teacher.  There must be a proper foundation, framework, content and methods to teach any subject.   Lots of people teach what they “know intuitively” when it comes to image consulting, which may be confusing or may not apply to their clients unless they have learned relevant teaching methods.

Where do you find these methods?  You could study blog posts that contradict each other with what’s hot today and not tomorrow.  OR you could look into the longest established institute of image management in the country, with over 30 years experience in educating image consulting professionals.

Teaching others to have great style requires more than intuition…it requires a great education. FIND US HERE!

By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM and Dani Slaugh, Conselle Affiliate 578While talk is the traditional specific mode of expression in psychotherapy and counseling, expressive image therapy introduces other forms of self-expression, namely clothing and grooming.  This adds the tangible, hands-on, everyday action of dressing and grooming to the process of psychotherapy.  We know the fastest way to lift someone out of a depressive mood is to improve the way he or she looks.  Immediately we get a smile, maybe a sigh, maybe a woo-hoo!  It works wonders!  An action-oriented method of communication, expressive image therapy has potential to speed the process of psychotherapy. For some clients, self-expression through dress and grooming may be a corrective experience all on its own.  Client experiences are sensory in nature, be it visual, tactile, or auditory-most likely all three channels encouraging healthy values and attachments, allowing the brain to establish new, more productive, and corrective patterns.  For all clients, the experience of working with clothing design elements in selection, styling, dressing, and grooming can actually energize clients, re-direct attention and focus, alleviate emotional stress, allowing clients to more fully concentrate on issues, adaptive behaviors, and goals.

Thinning and shaping thick brows from below lifts her visual expression and her self perception.

Thinning and shaping thick brows from below lifts her visual expression and her self perception.

Image management consultants, counselors, and expressive image therapists are agents of change.  They invite and encourage clients to engage in a process of self-exploration and self-expression with the objective of communicating thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and experiences in ways not always accomplished with words alone.  To be effective, consultants and therapists give their clients opportunities to become active participants in their own treatment.  Dress and grooming become primary modes of communication.  The process enhances the clients’ ability to quickly communicate in creative and unique ways that are relevant, authentic, and effective-using the senses to bring about change. Image management consultants, counselors, and therapists generally harbor a passion for the art and science of image as well as for the people they are preparing to help.  In providing for their own needs, image therapists continually nurture and develop their own creativity in harmonious dress and grooming.  Function in the field requires a knowledge of visual design in dress and grooming, and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychotherapy, counseling theories and techniques.  It may be practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, wellness, private practice and community settings with diverse client populations in individual, group, and family therapy formats, enabling clients to practice positive image management, a life skill they need to be prepared and productive adults. As of today, expressive image therapy is virtually unknown in schools and colleges or universities, wellness centers, treatment centers and hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, and other community or clinical settings.  While it may be practiced to a minimum degree in terms of wardrobing, shopping, or makeover sessions, image therapy is generally unrecognized and undeveloped with the exception of the Conselle Institute of Image Management.

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Anxiety disorder fills the victim with fear. Self expression through self presentation in dress and grooming can literally set them free.

Membership in the Expressive Image Therapy Association signals that we are active participants in the field of image therapy, dedicated to the growth of the field and to increasing knowledge in this specialized therapeutic practice.  If you’d like to know more, or know someone else who may be interested in this career option, contact us at Conselle, 801-224-1207 or judith@conselle.com.

By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM and Dani Slaugh, Conselle Affiliate 24e44bd4369ad6e119a0af68f7597cfa

It’s the holidays!  The time of year when we love to pull out the bling, or shop for something new that sparkles.  With the dim evening lighting, something with a little shimmer or shine plays off the lights beautifully and makes a fun statement this time of year.   A word of caution:  just because the clothing has sparkles doesn’t mean it works.  (Unless, of course, you are 4 years old. Then it always works!) Knowing that many of you are looking for that lovely holiday outfit, we have eight tips to consider for your smart shopping success.

  1. Plan for time to try on the clothes you’re shopping for.
  2. If it zips, it doesn’t mean it fits.  Take two or three sizes into the fitting room with you.  What is labeled small, medium, large or extra-large varies from brand to brand and possibly even item to item.
  3. When wearing each garment, ask yourself, “Where could I wear this?” “Will this get me the raise / date / recognition I’m looking for?” “What will this do for me?”
  4. Move around, walk, reach, stretch, bend, and sit.  Can you move comfortably?  Can you breathe?
  5. How do you look in a full-length mirror?  Leave your dressing room and find a mirror where you can step back several feet for a different vantage point.
  6. If it’s too short, check the hem allowance to see if it can be let down.
  7. If it puckers or pulls, the garment is too small for your body.  Let it go, or go up a size.
  8. Give yourself a break.  Stop for a healthy drink or snack to rest and relax rather than make a rash decision or give up too soon.

Expect success and you will often find it.  Happy Holidays!

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