It is hard to deny that fashion plays a key role in our lives, unless of course you are a nudist. Since most of us are not conducting business or pleasure in the buff deciding what to wear can be a daunting task. As I rummaged through my own closet lately I was struck by how many pieces hang there untouched. The other day I flung at least six outfits onto the bed looking for the right look for a casual business appointment. In the end I put on something that just didn’t feel right.
I took transit into the city and noticed so many interesting outfits worn by fashion savvy young women and I couldn’t help but think “I used to be like them; putting more effort into my fashion choices,” “Where did they buy that?” and “Would I look good in that outfit?”
The fact is I feel some days like I have lost my sense of fashion direction. I’m not sure what to wear and trying on clothes at the stores often turns into an exercise in frustration. I know I’m not alone in the quest to find the perfect pieces to compliment my body and lifestyle. The good news is we don’t have to be famous to enjoy the expertise of a personal stylist or image consultant because there are people like Diana Kilgour who can come to our rescue.
What is a personal style and image consultant? A person who knows how to bring out the best in her client’s appearance and manner. I do it by working with clothing and accessories that uniquely suit a person’s lifestyle, colouring, shape and size; suggesting improvements in speech, body language or posture if needed. It’s about impression management and equipping someone to live a freer, more confident life. Some people call me a personal shopper, dresser or stylist.
A good personal style and image consultant is a combination of three things: Caring friend with great taste who wants you to be happy and successful in life and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth, in a constructive and positive way.
Fairy-godmother who is able to help you transform your appearance so that you’ll fit in at the ball, in the office, at the resort or even the gym. Ensuring that your wardrobe and style formula is uniquely yours and not a carbon copy of others.
Consumer advocate who helps you make the best choices with your wardrobe dollars. I work for you, not for any particular store, so I can take you shopping anywhere and your long term satisfaction with your clothes is what I aim for.
What types of services do you provide?
1. Colour and style consultations which cover appearance from three angles: fashion (let’s make sure you look current), taste (you want to be appropriate and don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention), and style (putting your spin on what’s current and correct). This is a good starting point for anyone who finds wardrobe management an exercise in frustration and wants to be better equipped for shopping. This session is a popular gift service for Mother’s Day, birthdays, and Christmas.
2. In-home wardrobe assessments for women who have a closet/s full of clothes but are stuck not knowing what to retire, what to build on, and what to update with alterations or new accessories. In the process, which can include some good weeding and pruning, I transform random pieces into outfits and recommend additions to further expand the wardrobe’s versatility and function. Amazingly, the result is often a pile of discards and the sense that there is more to wear, not less!
3. Personal shopping, with my clients but as I get to know them I can sometimes shop for them. I’m a skillful, practical and resourceful shopper and have many clients who no longer go through the hassle of shopping on their own because they’ve experienced that together we can accomplish so much in much less time and for less money.
4. Image check-ups before an important occasion (Interview, TV appearance, website photo) where my critique and suggestions for fine-tuning an outfit may affect a long lasting outcome.
5. Etiquette brush-ups with a special focus on introductions and table manners, two tell-tale areas for the unaware.
6. Random acts of service. I’ve been asked to help with all sorts of projects from the organizing of closets and homes, hanging of art, choosing paint colours and shopping for gifts. I try to say yes when clients who trust me want to involve me other areas of their lives.
When it comes to developing our own personal style, how much is tied to self esteem?
Sometimes self esteem is what motivates someone to seek my services, “I’m doing well and I deserve to look my best and have nice things”, and sometimes a lack of self esteem is behind a call for assistance, “I’m tired of feeling as though I’m not well-dressed and don’t fit in and I don’t know how to improve my look”. Personal style, when defined, understood, and implemented cannot help but increase self confidence. To know one looks one’s best creates a generosity of self that allows us to focus on the other person or the job at hand rather than on “I wish I hadn’t worn this today”.
It’s well known that women, much more than men, can be self deprecating and overly aware of their perceived flaws and physical shortcomings. My role is to bring out positive attributes and to build on them to create a personal style profile.
For the woman returning to the workforce; who is staring at her closet not knowing what to wear, what advice would you give her? Congratulations on your new direction. Now recognize that the clothes you presently own belong to the person you used to be.
Take the time to define your new role and to put some thought into what your employer, customer or client might expect regarding your appearance. It often depends on what you are “selling”, the general rule being that the more expensive your product or service, the more care you need to put into your wardrobe.
With luck, some of the pieces in your closet can be assembled into outfits for the early days at a new job but be realistic about the competitiveness for good positions if you’ll be going on job interviews. In that case, it will be very worthwhile to do what you need to do: acquire a new outfit, update your shoes, and get a good haircut. This crossroad in life is another time when many women look for professional image advice. Consider it an investment in your future.
On a personal level, what attracted you to this profession? What do you love most about your job? I am quite independent and have always been self-employed. I’ve loved anything to do with colour since I was a little girl making paper chains and drawing clothes for my Katy Keene paper dolls. In 1981 I was looking for a change from my importing and wholesaling business (fashion accessories and giftware) when I learned about several California companies who were offering training in personal colour analysis. A friend nudged me in that direction, and within a year I was well on my way. Because of the popularity of colour analysis I quickly built a client base and became further trained as a personal shopper and etiquette coach.
There is so much that I love about my career. I meet wonderful and interesting people of every economic level and career field, age and size, and I get to make a tangible difference in their lives. For me it’s not just about fashion and shopping; it’s about how the right clothes make a person feel and how they support the achieving of life goals. I love that I’m always learning as fashions change, as the stores change, and as my clients’ needs shift throughout the course of their lifetimes. I’ve had a number of clients for thirty years, while many others have absorbed the lessons I’ve taught them and become the confident great dressers they’d never imagined they could be.
What are some of the things you have learned are most important to women when it comes to their appearance? Don’t wait till you’ve lost weight (especially if it’s not happening) to get on top of your wardrobe but dress the woman you are now.
The best clothes for business (particularly jackets and coats) aren’t left behind for “final clearance” sales, although many coordinates and accessories are.
Looking good is a social and economic tool that isn’t that hard to acquire with a little time and good direction. Never underestimate the importance of looking your best because the world loves to shower favours upon attractive people. I know, I know, but it’s a proven fact – statistically!
Fashions fade, style is eternal — Yves Saint-Laurent
For more information go to: http://www.dianakilgour.com/