What’s the Difference Between an Image Consultant and a Fashion Stylist?

While perusing the latest offerings from the FabJob guide site,


I noticed that both the “Become a Fashion Stylist” and “Become an Image Consultant” titles both linked to the image consultant guide.  I found that very interesting.  For while both occupations require a similar skill set, they have very different functions.  That a publisher as well-respected as FabJob could miss the differences shows how deeply misunderstood the two disciplines are.

So what’s the difference between an image consultant and a fashion stylist?  And perhaps more importantly, how can you use that information to build a fashionable yet functional
wardrobe of your own?

Let’s take a look:

An IMAGE CONSULTANT typically works with individuals to help them consistently look their best.  Using color analysis, figure analysis, lifestyle analysis, etc., an image consultant will determine which colors, styles, and clothes will help their clients look good and reach their image goals, like getting a job promotion, a new social position, having dating success, or whatever.

Personal image consultants work one-on-one with people, doing things like cleaning and organizing closets or doing personal shopping.  Corporate image consultants work with businesses in a variety of ways, like writing dress code policies, picking out uniforms, training sales staff or managers how to improve sales by dressing appropriately, etc.  Media image consultants help their clients to look good and speak competently for media presentations like speeches, book writing tours, television
interviews, and the like.

A FASHION STYLIST uses clothing, accessories, and props to create a certain image or look for print or other media.  Years ago, their title was “photographer’s assistant” because they were responsible for creating the scene to be photographed, including finding clothes, doing hair and makeup, arranging accessories, and even set decorating, if necessary.  Today, many fashion stylists still fill some of those same roles at photo shoots (depending on the budget), but they can also be found pulling and styling clothes for other media as well, including television, fashion shows, videos, etc.

Celebrity fashion stylists find and style clothes and do hair and makeup (or they have a team who does) for celebrities or public figures who need to look good for red carpet events, television interviews, promotional tours, and the like. Some celebrities have stylists on their payroll or on retainer; others hire them on a job-by-job basis.

So while both occupations require knowledge of clothing styles, body types, appropriate attire, etc., one discipline focuses on a consistent, long-term approach while the other is all about the photo op.  Can an image consultant also work as a fashion stylist or vice versa?  Absolutely! Are they the same thing?  Obviously not.

So how can you become your own image consultant and fashion stylist?

Start by determining your body type, coloring, and clothing personality.  Build a solid wardrobe that helps you reach your image goals and takes you wherever you need to go.  Experiment with different hair styles and makeup techniques and keep them current as the seasons change.

Then, study fashion magazines, store windows, and online retailers for styling ideas like how to layer clothes, how to combine different fabrics, and how to wear accessories in new ways.  Pull the pictures out of magazines (if you own them) or print them off if they’re online.  Collect them in a folder and keep it handy as you dress so that you can try different things.  Before you know it, you’ll have that “touched by a stylist” look — WITHOUT the accompanying expense.

So what’s the difference between an image consultant and a fashion stylist?  One focuses on looking good every day, while the other pulls out “all the stops” when the cameras are on.  With a little practice, you can do both.

Need some tips on how to determine your coloring, body shape, and clothing personality?  Download a copy of WARDROBE MAGIC:


Need some ideas on how to wear your old accessories in new ways?  Grab a copy of ACCESSORY MAGIC:


to see how easy dressing well can be.


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of “Wardrobe Magic,” an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at www.fashionforrealwomen.com .

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