Image Matters – ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’!
It’s the time of year when we are still in the throws of our New Year’s Resolutions, changing careers, and lifestyles; how we dress, the powerful non-verbal communication is the first impression we make on others. In the first 30 seconds of meeting someone we are being assessed, from the design aesthetics of our garments, to how it fits.
Like it or not, ‘Image Matters’; dissecting this fashion conundrum further, I had the pleasure of meeting with and interviewing Personal Shopper and Image Consultant Jane Sumner from her company (aptly named) ‘Image Matters’.
Jane you’ve been dressing people for 23 years to date; what differences have you noticed in dressing and fashion?
The rules in dressing have disappeared, which produces an opportunity for people to dress the way they would like to dress, people are being their own personal brand. In turn they are saying I need to feel more confident about who I am as an individual, what to choose from fashion to reflect my personal style.
With the fashion industry coming under scrutiny due to the impact of fast fashion, what changes have you noticed?
The impact of fast fashion has resulted in far too many clothes being bought without thought or care. Research has discovered that on average we buy 68 garments per person per year. That is more than one item every week! This is not sustainable. Fast fashion is having a huge impact on the environment: last year alone we threw away 2.1 billon tonnes of clothing, some going to Africa, but much of it to landfill. I have more and more customers enquiring about ethically sourced fashion and making more of the items they already have.
Are we going to see clothes move back to where they were?
I don’t think so, not in the same way. I think people will start to develop an individual fashion. Fashion Designers these days are looking at recycling, and sustainability, which will become an even greater requirement.
How do you address those needs?
As a personal shopper I work independently, dovetail in Captain Tortue – a French fashion brand – alongside high street brands, the internet, and independent fashion brands. Whilst I am not able to speak about all brands, as to their mission statements for sustainability, I can speak on behalf of the brands that I do represent. It’s being able to pull all of those strands that we get off the internet, the high street and independents together, I become the conduit, pointing people in the direction of what they are looking for.
Social media and the internet are changing the way we interact, how do you feel the impression we send out to the world is influenced as a result?
The old adage of ‘you have less than 30 seconds’ to make an impression is even less, because of the internet, so you have a few seconds to make an impression. Being able to hold a conversation, look someone in the eye, a lot of these attributes we are losing because of social media and texting; it is all part and parcel of that visual appearance.
Part of what I do is not just about the way people dress, eye contact, shaking of hands, how you hold yourself, they are equally important. Those people who work from home, can develop a smart casual look that can take you from home to networking and off to the school run with ease, giving you more confidence in any situation.
What’s the best advice for having a wardrobe that works for your lifestyle?
It’s bringing it back to planning your wardrobe, whether you are planning a business campaign, it is no different to planning your own wardrobe, it’s not suddenly going to appear in front of you, as if by magic.
We can plan a wardrobe, by making sure that what’s in the wardrobe is relevant to your lifestyle, your personality, your body shape and to a lesser degree your colouring as well. So actually everything is congruent, everything mixes and matches so that you know you are already prepared for whatever is thrown at you, because we have already repurposed your wardrobe, should there be a shopping list as a result of that, you will have everything in your wardrobe that you need to have.
Your love and passion for the people you dress is clearly evident by our conversation, what drives you as an Image Consultant and Personal Shopper?
I would like to feel that over the 23 years I have dressed thousands of women, and hundreds of men, I know what I am talking about. And when someone comes out the changing room, and they look at me with a surprised look on their face, and they say “well I would never have tried it on unless you encouraged me to Jane”, I would love a few pounds for each time that has happened, because I truly believe that I know I can make a difference to anyone that is up and ready, for a little bit of change. It’s not about reinventing the wheel completely; I am very passionate about helping people remain authentic and still recognisable to friends and family. I am not interested in making them unrecognisable, but making them the best version of themselves that they can be, and that’s what I am interested in.
What is important is to celebrate where you are right now, if you can begin to accept who you are at this moment, and find the positive aspects about you to focus on, so you can step forward more confidently.
For me it’s about falling in love with yourself, looking at yourself in a full length mirror head to foot, and acknowledge YOU in the full light of day.
Thanks Jane for a riveting insight into your world, I believe ‘Image Consultancy’ appeals to our inner psyche of looking and feeling good, which adds to our overall growth as individuals.