How to Become an Image Consultant

by Sandy Dumont

There are a number of things that are necessary in order to become a certified Total Image Consultant.  You must be trained in every element of image from head to toe. The core elements are color and line, with a little body language thrown in.

How to become an image consultant
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How to Become an Image Consultant

A lot of people call themselves image consultants when they have worked in big department stores as personal shoppers, makeup artists, or as celebrity style advisors. A more appropriate name for this profession is Stylist.  It relies upon so-called “natural instincts” and rarely includes formal training in color, which is the cornerstone of image consulting.

There is no doubt that experience as a stylist can be an adjunct to the training that is necessary in order to become a certified Image Consultant. Here are the components you will need to learn how to become an image consultant: 

  1. Color analysis This is the most crucial element of your training. It cannot be taught via mail-order systems. It can only be learned by a “hands on” method. Be wary of schools that still use the outdated system of looking at your hair and eye color to determine the colors that make you look better. You must be taught to identify what happens to the skin when you change from a warm blue, for example, to a cool blue. You need to be able to tell when a bright red is warm or cool, or when a navy blue suit is warm or cool. Included in the studies should be a history of color analysis and of the various, often contradictory, systems.

  2. Color psychology This is not about saying that red increases blood pressure and blue lowers it. That is an amateur form of color therapy, a most valuable skill that is mostly taught in the U.K. over a period of four to six years.

    Color psychology includes knowing the “personality” of the colors so intimately that it aids you in helping your clients discover how to make a particular impression on a precise audience. Every color has a positive and a negative connotation, and you will learn how to have your clients wear black and not look forbidding, but to look like a Big City mover and shaker. Or; how to wear red and not look aggressive, but look vibrant and dynamic instead. Color can change a person’s life!

  3. “Line” from head to toe Line is not just about style choices. It has to do with the shape of eyebrows, lips, shoes, and everything in between. You must learn to develop a sharp eye for line so that you can camouflage the most difficult figure flaws.

  4. Makeup How to choose the correct colors and how to apply it. You will learn to tell the difference between a warm beige foundation and a cool one, for example. You’ll also learn how to do the sophisticated Smoky Eye.

  5. Hair You must learn how to help a client choose the best hair color; should she be a golden blonde or an ash blonde, for example? Part of your studies with “line” will include face shape and the best hairstyles for each shape.

  6. Body Language This is an important part of learning how to become an image consultant.

  7. Accessories Choosing  accessories that make a statement is an important element in image consulting. Getting this right is crucial if your clients hope to make an impact and own the room. When it comes to image, the devil is in the details. Get one thing wrong, and that is all that is noticed and remembered. Yet, the  sum total is greater than all its parts, and that sum total is the immediate impact you make. You need to learn all the components of image, but also how to successfully put them together so your client’s persona is not violated, but he or she has become a better version of  themselves.

  8. Closet audits How to help a client go through his/her closet and arrange things more efficiently. How to get your client to eliminate items that are not flattering.

  9. Shopping How to use your knowledge of color and line to shop quickly and efficiently with clients. They will want to hire you each season to help them do their seasonal shopping because it will save them both time and money.

  10. MEN How to put shirts, ties and suits together for a classy “old money” look that garners instant credibility and respect. You will learn the difference between a “fashion” look and a “board room” look, and how it impacts a man’s bottom line.


If you are still in college and interested in how to become an image consultant, there are several courses that will be very helpful:

  • Art This will give you some of the technical information that is related to color analysis
  • Color psychology
  • Fashion Merchandising This is ostensibly to train you to become a buyer for a big department store. It will also give you a good foundation in fashion principles.
  • Journalism courses The best way for the world to know that you are an expert in your field is by writing in local newspapers or other publications. Writing skills are essential.
  • Psychology A few courses in basic psychology will enable you to handle difficult clients more successfully.