The History of Image Consulting

The image consulting industry first started in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Before that time, “image consulting” for the general public was not a familiar concept. Principles of attire were only taught at fashion, finishing and modeling schools. Politicians, models, TV personalities and celebrities were the only likely candidates to hire an image consultant or receive an image makeover.

In the 1980’s several forces combined to pave the way for the image consulting industry to emerge. John Molloy’s book, “Dress for Success” enjoyed huge popularity and seasonal color theories began to gain momentum throughout the world. At the same time, women were entering the workforce in increasing numbers and competing in a man’s world. They saw that image mattered to their upward mobility and therefore, began to invest money in their appearance.

In the 1990’s the high-tech companies influenced a more relaxed trend in dress and “business casual” swept across the country. Employers reported that unfortunately business dress went from formal to business casual to business catastrophe and widespread confusion prevailed. Image consulting was essential to introduce dress codes and standards.

Today, the demand for quality image consultants has risen to a new high as new markets have emerged. The competition is fierce as a plethora of highly qualified candidates seek new jobs and need to differentiate themselves from the competition. Personal and professional development skills become critical in such a climate. From our point of view as an industry this is good news! The definition of image consulting has broadened beyond “makeovers” to include behavior, civility and etiquette, body language, interview skills, communication, presentation, and personal branding.

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