Is what you see who you are? If the answer is a vehement no, help is at hand. More than a passing fad and not restricted to a privileged few, image consultants are the modern day fairy godmothers who with a wave of their magic wand (or in this case a sheaf of questionnaires) can transform you.

It is no news that first impressions can take you a long way. “People judge you within 30 seconds of seeing you. The halo effect is when you start off on a positive note and everything you do after that is seen in a positive light,” says Lata Goenka-Kedia, image director at Maximum Effect. Natalie Pereira, whose company Ripple Effect handles image consultancy, communication and presentation, concurs that it takes more effort to undo a bad impression in a world where perception is 90 percent of the validity.

“Image consulting is about how you communicate and what you communicate, the messages you want to portray right from your appearance to your behaviour, and your written and oral communication –what we call the ABCs of image management. The crux of it is how you are perceived and ensuring that it is in line with what you want to communicate. Everyone is a work of art and it is really just about choosing the right frame to showcase yourself,” says Goenka-Kedia. 

Photo: b:blunt
Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be a celebrity or a corporate honcho to enjoy these services. Most consultants’ clientele is a diverse mix. Pereira says, “It is for everyone from children to adults. You have it, you present it. My job is to enhance my client’s ability to shine…polish the plus points and negate the negative points.” Babita Jaishankar, CEO at WSol, adds that image consulting is not about looking glamorous but for those who want to look their best.

A common misconception is that it is expensive business. But as image consultants will point out most people wear only 30 percent of their wardrobe. Rather than a splurge fest, consultants guide you to building a wardrobe that is 100 percent usable, which makes it a cost-effective exercise.

Goenka-Kedia says, “The process starts with a coffee meet followed by a series of analysis – colour, body line, facial, personality. When I work with corporate clients I use various diagnostic tools and the approach is more strategic. Questionnaires help get a clue about the individual’s personality and what their goals are. My aim is and what I enjoy bringing out is their individuality, their personality through their dress.” 

Lata Goenka-Kedia, image director at Maximum Effect
Jaishankar’s sessions include style profiling, wardrobe restyling, grooming and body language. A trained designer, she designs the entire wardrobe herself when required.

Ask the experts what is their take on workplace boo-boos and Pereira says it is unacceptable that in India most people cannot draw attitude boundaries between work and home. Goenka-Kedia feels a common blunder is wearing traditional clothes to the workplace in inappropriate colours, with flowers and excess jewellery and that one cannot underestimate the power of a good fit. Jaishankar suggests factoring in the occasion, audience, your style and colour profiling before taking a call on what to wear.

A well-tailored third piece gets a big nod from Goenka-Kedia. She says, “A wardrobe essential is a blazer, a scarf, a shrug depending on the work environment as it gives immediate authority.”

While clothes maketh a person, image consulting works on the level of self-awareness which is the secret to a transformation that lasts past the midnight hour. 

By Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media Features/

Read the story on the Goa Herald: