First Impressions Count and the Value of Image Consultation

I was recently invited by a friend of mine, Rod, to attend his image consultation at First Impressions Count in Brunswick. He was given a voucher by a friend at a barbeque & thought it would be an interesting experiment, & I was keen to go along & see how it went. We caught a train out to the suburbs (the horror!) in the pursuit of professional styling.

Rod & I were greeted at the door by Craig Michaels, a man who gives the distinct impression that he knows what he’s talking about. We both immediately felt at ease — Craig is a very amiable guy. We were offered champagne, but given the incredible heat outside we decided to play it sober & drank chilled water instead. Rod filled out some preliminary paperwork (questions regarding what he wanted to improve image-wise, what colours he liked & that kind of thing) & Craig asked some questions to flesh out a better profile.

The service provided was very substantial. First of all, Rod underwent a colour assessment (you can give yourself one by reading my article Fashion Help For Recovering Goths!) & as Craig whipped out a swatch of fabric samples, he explained to Rod how different colours worked for him & what to look for when trying fabric against his skin. This was illuminating for Rod, as I am fairly sure it is for most people. It’s not something people generally think about, but when you try on an item of clothing, you should always look in the mirror to see if the colour adds or drains colour from your face Adding = good, draining = bad. Rod has salt & pepper hair & brown eyes, & it was really interesting to me, even as an observer, to see what worked with his colouring & what didn’t.

After that, we walked into the showroom, filled with rows of shirts, ties & suits picked out by someone with impeccable taste (my money’s on Craig). He took some measurements & ushered Rod into a changing room as he enthusiastically flung shirts, suit jackets & trousers over the door.
Rod’s initial outfit of a black t-shirt & jeans looked fantastic under a three-button black pinstriped suit jacket (further proving my point that a casual suit jacket can completely transform an outfit into something sleek & polished-looking). For years, Rod had thought that as a man, it was important to contrast your clothing: that you either wore a dark shirt with light pants, or a light shirt with dark trousers. He was surprised to see that a light blue striped shirt with his blue jeans looked incredible, as did a pink shirt with a camel1 stripe & a pair of camel-coloured trousers. This later outfit was my favourite. Craig also supplied a pair of cufflinks in silver with similarly neutral detailing which really took the outfit from looking clean & fresh to a perfect finish. I have to say, I personally really prefer a light-coloured shirt on man. There are a LOT of dark shirts in the wardrobe of your average man, & unless they’re paired exceptionally with other pieces, they really never POP! for me in the same way that a light shirt easily does.

Going to a stylist or an image consultant is risky business. The people running the business tend to operate on one of two principles. Either they are happy to teach you what they know, or they aren’t — therefore guaranteeing you’ll go back to them again, since you’re going to need their continual advice. Or, at least, you’ll go back to them if you haven’t figured out you’re being duped. Thankfully, First Impressions Count are strictly in the first category. Craig was consummately helpful, happy to answer any questions Rod had about coordination, cut & style. I really got the impression that their business exists because the staff enjoy it & love to make a difference. It’s so obvious when a business is built around the concept of paying the bills, & it can make you feel so uncomfortable. Neither of us felt pressured the entire time we were there, & I found it an incredibly interesting experience. They offer a number of other services on top of image appraisal, including taking you shopping & a home consultation where they’ll help you clean out your closet.

Edited to say: The voucher has been won! Thanks for all your entries!

Extra For Experts:
1. What is “camel”? Camel is a colour — a twist on beige, but a bit darker with a swirl of honey. It’s only fairly recently returned to the world of fashion, & I’m glad it’s back. It’s very light, natural & easy to wear.