Frequenty Asked Questions

This page is a compilation of common questions and concerns that personal image consultant Michelle Horne is often asked. Read on to find out what others are asking about:

The Image Consulting Profession

Q: What qualifies a person to be an image consultant?

A: Believe it or not, individuals can simply start a business under the title of “Image Consultant”. However, to assess the credibility, commitment and professionalism of an image consultant, look for two things. First, look for membership to a relevant industry professional association – the most well respected of these being the Association of Image Consultants International. Second, look for a trained consultant with appropriate certifications.

Q: How can I tell a good image consultant from a bad one? How will I know if the advice I’m getting is good?

A: If YOU don’t personally see and feel the positive impact of the process you are going through with an image consultant then it is not a successful experience. A good image consulting experience will make you feel that you are faithfully expressing your authentic self. It should never make you feel like you are playing a role or becoming someone else. Look for an image consultant who listens carefully to understand your unique identity, then translates that into colour and style choices that help you authentically express who you are and how to convey your intent in a given situation.

Q: I don’t want to look like everyone else. Why should I follow “the rules” or be pigeon holed into one colour palette or style?

A: Within a colour palette or body type there is a whole spectrum of choices. Often, those subtleties can be confusing. An important part of my work is finding the right range in that spectrum for you. A successful image doesn’t make you look like anyone else, because it ensures that you look only like you. I use a variety of analysis tools and listening techniques to draw out your individual style personality and then I show you how to convey that authentically through choices in colour, clothing and accessories.

The Image Consulting Process

Q: The last thing I want is a makeover. Can you help me look my best without looking so different that no one recognizes me?

A: Makeovers are quick fixes that can make you look incredible – or just incredibly different. My approach helps ensure that you can incorporate a successful image into your life on a daily basis. I introduce my clients to a process that teaches them the techniques and tools they can use to do that. When I say a “successful image”, I mean one that is authentic – and image that helps you better express who you are and also your intent in any given situation.

Q: I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I sense that I’m not coming across to people in the way that I want to. Can you help me figure out what the problem might be?

A: Many of my clients experience situations in which the feedback they get from others’ body language, eye contact or verbal comments is not what they had hoped for or intended. Image plays a large role in guiding other people in how to respond to you. It has direct influence on a person’s credibility, and can play varying roles in professional, social and personal interactions. I use various tools and techniques to uncover each client’s unique style identity – this includes their natural colouring, their body type, and their clothing personality. The results of that process create a roadmap for us to develop that identity into an authentic personal image that will help you to successfully communicate your intent to others. To learn about how the process has affected some of my clients – and the feedback they get from others – read these Client Stories.

Q: If a person judges me by the way I look and makes a business or personal decision based on that, then they must be pretty superficial. Why do you think image is so important? It’s what’s inside that counts!

A: I couldn’t agree more … but, as a former supervisor, I also know how true it is that we make instinctive – and very fast – initial assessments of individuals based on what they convey through their appearance, communication and etiquette. Those “first impressions” tend to form patterns of interaction between you and others – and that’s why image matters. Having a handle on and control of your personal image is the most powerful tool you have to influence first impressions and initiate the patterns of interaction with others that will define your success in various situations.

Q: I’m not sure that I can afford image consulting, but I’d like some guidance. What can you suggest?

A: First, consider the cost of your style habits. If you have a closet full of clothes that are uncomfortable or that never seem right for the occasion, that money would be much better spent learning how to shop more effectively. I offer a variety of services at standard hourly rates, as well as Special Packages at discounted rates, so the services I offer are flexible for a variety of budgets and needs. And, couple or group sessions are a great way to be exposed to my services for less than you might pay on your own.

Q: If I work with you, will I have to throw out all my clothes and spend a lot of money on new things?

A: I’m not about makeovers. Ultimately, image and style come from deep inside you, and I know that change will take time. Often, my clients discover that many of the colours or clothing styles they are wearing are not ideal for them, or not appropriate for their lifestyles. It’s up to them what to do with that information. I’m experienced at working with existing budgets and wardrobes, and can show you to select your best existing pieces and make them more versatile with the right accessories. I can also teach you how to shop more effectively so that when you are ready to buy, it’s money well spent.

Q: Everyone can wear black; it’s just a matter of changing your makeup or throwing on a colourful scarf. Are you going to make me throw out all my black clothes?

A: I won’t “make” you do anything – but if black isn’t in your natural colour palette, you can count on me to show you why it isn’t. More importantly, I’ll show you how your natural colours enhance your appearance and play a role in non-verbal communication: how to use colour to set the right first impression, to influence negotiations, to build long-term relationships with clients and peers, and much more. Whatever your reasons for being emotionally attached to certain colours, I’ll help you learn to take control of colour to influence your image.

Q: I like the idea of working with an image consultant, but I know my spouse/partner is going to resist my desire to change or say I’m wasting my money. How can you help me manage that?

A: One way to manage this is to get your spouse/partner on board and involve him/her in a couple’s package, or in some part of the process. For example, it might be beneficial for your partner to attend our initial meeting to better understand the role that image is playing in your professional or personal life, and why you think that needs to change. Your spouse may also benefit from reading the stories of some of my clients, who detail the concrete benefits of what they process has done for them. In the end, YOU must decide that working with me is right for you. Eventually, it will benefit your partner because YOU will feel better about yourself.

Image Consulting Training

Q: I’m interested in becoming an image consultant. What do I need to do?

A: Contact Michelle Horne directly to learn more about the image consulting industry and the best way to get started. Putting it Together offers Universal Style System training courses that help existing image consultants hone their skills and offer new services.

Universal Style™ System

Q: What is the Universal Style™ System?

A:A: Created by Industry Style Pioneer Alyce Parsons, the Universal Style™ System is recognized as the “Gold Standard” of style systems in the international image consulting industry. The system is designed to uncover a client’s special attributes, preferences, and requirements to help create a style and build a wardrobe that meets the client’s needs. Michelle Horne is a certified Universal Style System consultant and one of only two certified Universal Style System trainers in Canada.

Image and Gender, Race and Age

Q: Does a person’s colour palette change with age?

A: No. A person’s colour palette is developed by age 16. Naturally, the aging process may alter how you see yourself, and one’s level of intensity of colouring may alter. This can require some adjustments in colour choices – but will occur within your colour palette.

Q: I don’t want to look old. Are you going to make me “dress my age”?

A: I don’t even know what that means. For example, great legs are great legs at any age – should you cover them up just because you qualify for the senior’s discount? Not necessarily. Everyone of every age has what I call his or her own “personal funk” – and I strive to identify that, focus on it, and help my clients express their personal funk in a way that works for their lifestyles and budgets.

Q: Do your services work for all genders and all races?

A: Yes. My process works for all skin tones, and the basic rules of colour and style apply whether I am working with a man, woman or transgender individual. My method of approaching image consulting services is tailored to each individual, but we always cover the same fundamentals of colour, style and clothing preferences/personality.

Q: Men don’t need to care much about their appearance. I’ll bet most of your male clients are having mid-life crises.

A: One thing unites all my clients, no matter how different they are: they all feel the effects of, and care about, their appearance – and my male clients are no exception. Often, an individual is prompted to engage my services because of a change in life that makes one’s personal image come to the forefront. For example, promotions at work, divorce, illness, a new relationship, re-entering the workforce and other such events are often the impetus for a person to want to take control of the image they present to others.

Q: Do you work with transgender individuals? Do you provide femininity coaching?

A: Yes, I have helped a number of clients make the transition from male to female. As with all clients, you will begin the process with an objective assessment based on a variety of tools that together will reveal your authentic image identity, body type and natural colour palette. With these keys in hand, we will unlock the doors to your natural beauty, femininity and authentic image. You’ll learn what you need to know to suitably maintain your image in any personal or professional situation. For more information on these services, please refer to this web page.

If you have a question that’s not answered here, you can email Michelle Horne