6 Tips Designers Should Know About Personal Appearance
Free advice from an image consultant about what interior designers should know about the way they dress.
Interior designers are in the fashion business. We dress our clients' homes in the latest styles, we coordinate exciting colors and patterns, and we custom fit each room to flattering specifications.
But what about how we as designers dress? Could some of us use a thorough makeover, too?
Image consultants and personal appearance professionals have one of the fastest growing career fields, so their services are in red-hot demand. To see if we should hop on their bandwagon, I went to a top image professional, Michelle T. Sterling, founder of the Sterling Style Academy and the Global Image Group, to see exactly how an image consultant can improve any interior designer's business. I challenged her to tell me 6 things every designer should know about her business.
Tip 1: Dress appropriately to woo a prospective client. "As an interior designer, it's important to be able to connect with your client and meet their needs. Image is about non-verbal communication – our non-verbal impact on everyone we encounter. Whenever you walk into a room, your clothing speaks volumes about you. For example, if you're going to see a client and her home is furnished with robin egg blues, browns, and metallics, along with mirrored furniture and crystal/glass accessories – you'll quickly assess her home decor style is elegant and refined. If you're a male interior designer wearing a hipster/trendy look, that client may be less inclined to hire you because she may feel that you don't understand her design aesthetic. If you're a female designer and you show up to this woman's home in a LBD (little black dress) and pointy sling backs, she may be more inclined to hire this woman because her first impression would be that this woman understands her design sense."
Tip 2: Dress to project what you like to do. "Designers should dress according to their own home design aesthetic. Be harmonious in the message you project and communicate. If you prefer a classic interior design look, then you should dress in a more classic style. Do you trend towards modern style? Then your clothing could be more trendy and fashion forward. Love great splashes of color in the homes you decorate? Then your clothing should look well accessorized and colorful, too. If you feel you can create any type of look, then dress according to the client you are going to meet."
Tip 3: Consulting with an image pro may help you dress for success – and more. "An image consultant's role," says Michelle, "is to help individuals project their best image from the inside out or refine an individual's image to meet their goals, needs, lifestyle, and preferences. You'll benefit as long as you feel there's a need for personal and professional improvement. Professionals come to image consultants to improve their executive presence or to dress to improve their business profile. You may want to dress to impress at all times. You might come to a consultant simply because you don't know what to wear, how to put outfits together – or you hate to shop for yourself after shopping for your clients all day!"
Tip 4: Working with an image consultant is relatively painless and affordable. "Usually a consultation takes about 1 day or 8 hours. It includes a Personal Style Evaluation, Wardrobe and Closet Evaluation, and Personal Shopping. The cost will vary by location and by the experience of the consultant; usually $800 for an unseasoned specialist to $2,000 per day for a well-established, seasoned consultant in an urban area."
Tip 5: A female interior designer should have a core of five wardrobe essentials. And what are they, Michelle? "A classic blazer, a pair of well-fitting jeans or trousers, a skirt that suits your body type, a shift dress, and a fun top that can transition from day to night. Notice that I didn't mention color. Whether you love black, navy, beige, or camel, select a neutral foundation color that suits your personal coloring and start building a wardrobe from there. This also enables you to easily mix and match as you expand your wardrobe."
Tip 6: Many interior designers are a natural for the image consulting business. "Image consulting and interior designing are both based on the same aesthetic principles. You might want to expand your menu of services and help advise people on what to wear and how to shop for personal – as well as home – style. There are short online eCourses in different aspects of our business that can open up new revenue streams for entrepreneurial designers."
In November 2006, Manhattan-based blogger Jay Johnson and his partner Irwin Weiner, ASID applied the popularity of watching videos on the Internet to the house-and-garden arena. The idea for Design2Share was born. On D2S, they share their insight, tips, and strong opinions about how people design and decorate their homes, entertaining over 300,000 visitors a year; their syndicated original videos had over 22 million video views in 2010.