Renowned International Image Consultant, Judith Rasband, once said: “The way you look directly affects the way you think, the way you feel, the way you speak, the way you act or behave, and then the way others react or respond to you. Therefore the old saying ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’ does not carry much weight in this era, seeing as there are international standards that have been set which dictate what the perfect man or woman should look like”.
According to the Associate Image Consultants International,” Appearance Behaviour and Communication (ABCs) are the cornerstones of the kind of impression that an individual makes from the onset.”
Managing one’s image is a pro-active process that involves evaluation of the impact of one’s appearance on themselves and on to others. It does not have much bearing on personality development but rather primarily focuses on an individual’s personal style, while developing, enhancing and nurturing strengths and downplaying weaknesses.
Image management involves the assessment of the current status of public perception and assists in identifying techniques of self presentation of an individual. It involves evaluating the degree of positive and negative perception in order to enhance the positive aspect of the overall public imagine. All this can be achieved through appearance management, communication skills and the overall polishing of adequate and relevant social graces and etiquette.
Julia Ratladi, a local Image consultant, also the Managing Director of The Image Auditors, explained that at her consultancy they teach women about different body shapes and elements of design that they have to take into consideration when buying clothes for their body shapes.
The reality is that it does not matter what type of body shape or size one may have, not every item of clothing is going to be suitable. Where the image consultants come in is to guide and offer expert advice to an individual regarding the type of cut, colour, pattern and size that would be most suitable towards a particular body type. Even the perfect woman, which, according to Ratladi, is the equivalent of a store mannequin, needs to know what size shape and colour looks best on them. Image consultant’s advice that learning, accepting and understanding one’s body type is the ultimate key to determining the type of clothes that one must invest in. The clothes should “flatter and enhance the best features of an individual”.
Image management is not only designed for or limited to women because men too also have different body types and self esteem issues and, therefore, have a need to look good as well.
Ratladi pointed out that at Image Auditors, their targeted age group is men and women above the age of 35.
“By the age of 35, a lot of people’s bodies have gone through different stages in a lifetime; puberty, after birth, menopause and old age. Each stage brings with it a different body shape, which then becomes challenging for them to know exactly what suits them. That is why sometimes you find them dressed too young or too old for their age. When it comes to some men, they just don’t have a sense of style; this challenge grows as they grow old.
“It is sad to find people who have the means to buy whatever they want yet struggle to make a statement with their clothes because they have no clue of proper style for their body physique,” said Ratladi.
A significant number of international celebrities and politicians across the world have taken up the services of image consultants to work alongside their personal stylists because of the impact that public image and perception has on their respective careers.
Ratladi attributes their tools to personalized Style Consultation that teaches men and women how to buy clothes and accessories that make them look and feel good in any situation at any time and personalized Colour Coding Analysis, which helps determine the best colours for one’s personal colouring.
“We use science, art and technology when doing individual consultation to give our clients the best advice on what clothes and accessories to buy and what not to buy for their body shape, age, and workplace; what hats and glasses to wear that will complement their face shape,” said Ratladi. “The Image Auditors is the only company in the country that uses this kind of science, art and technology. When consulting with an individual we take her/his body measurements and input then in our stylist program which will then give advice on what clothes and accessories to buy.”