Fashion Stylist or an Image Consultant – Understand The Difference

I recently did a survey to understand what people think of image consultants and was surprised to see that as much as people understand who fashion stylists are, many are not even aware that a profession such as an image consultant exists. What is more surprising is that 80% people either have not hired image consultants or don’t know who an image consultant is.

Who is an image consultant ?

An  image consultant is someone who works on helping you build an image that you want others to have of you. In a world where perception is reality, it is important that we set the right first impression. An image consultant can work on either one, two or all pillars to improve your image –

  • Appearance  – Your dressing habits, styling, accessories, wardrobe patterns
  • Behaviour – What you portray through your actions and body language
  • Communication – How well do you convey what you think into words and convey your thoughts.

Are Image Consultants Certified. How do I know who is a genuine image consultant that can help me ?

Many people don’t know but like how doctors and accountants have an international board, image consultants also have an international board. This board is called AICI or Association of Image Consultants International. Members are trained and require continuous education to be a member. This is a recognition to say they have been trained aptly for their role. Within AICI, as an image consultant, you have multi levels, beginner (CIC) , intermediate (CIP), master (CIM). Members can reach these levels by taking exams. You can look up an image consultant on this website and contact them.

Having said that, there are many notable image consultant who are trained but freelance and not part of AICI. In such instances, it is important to see their website, reviews or ask for portfolios before hiring them.

How does an image consultant work different from a fashion stylist or a personal shopper ?

Think about going to a mall and picking out your clothes. You find it hard sometimes and just wish if there was someone to tell you what to buy.

  • A fashion stylist will tell you what is trending, what colors look good on you and what outfits you should consider.
  • A personal shopper will come with you and help you select and purchase clothes that fit into your budget.
  • An image consultant can be a both stylist and a personal shopper. However an image consultant will sit with you before shopping, analyze your color and body proportions,provide you a color palette, do a style analysis, predict your wardrobe patterns,shopping habits, create capsules and then suggest the right outfit.

An image consultants role even in clothes goes beyond just picking the right clothes.It combines psychology with fashion. Most image consultants tend to analyse your tendencies and patterns when it comes to shopping and coaching you with the right purchasing habits.

This is the broader distinction of job roles. Of course you have cases where a fashion stylist may also be a personal shopper or a personal shopper may also be an image consultants. Many people tend to wear various hats.

Image Consultant sounds so fancy or a profession only the rich can hire. Why should I hire one?

This is the most common misconception people have. An Image consultant is very affordable and can be very relevant to you. Scenarios where you can hire an image consultant and see the roles they can play.

  • You have a big event coming up but don’t know what to wear in your closet. Online Image Consultants are available to help you make quick decisions. ( Online Stylist)
  • You have a big interview lined up but are confused what to wear to it. An image consultant will help you research that industry and suggest right outfits ( Wardrobe Consultant
  • You want to learn daily dining etiquettes like which fork to use or how to drink your soup.Hire an image consultant to teach you ( Dining / Etiquette Coach)
  • You have problems in your dating life and don’t know how to make a good impression on your dates An image consultant will guide you beyond just dressing and teach you how to impress a girl or guy. (Dating Guru)
  • Wondering what your strengths and weaknesses are.Sit down and consult with an image consultant and they will coach you to discovering yourself (Personal Coach and Branding)
  • You want to learn basic makeup to wear to work , most likely an image consultant can teach you along with dressing tips which a makeup artist won’t ( A Make up Artist)
  • You want to be the next manager but don’t know how to sell your brand. See an image consultant ( Executive Coaching and Personal Branding)

The list of services is endless. It is matter of asking. If you have a budget, speak frankly to an image consultant. Most image consultant have flexile packaging which can be custom made for your budget and needs

Image Consultants are known to be expensive. Why do they charge so much for even styling?

Image Consultants may be sometimes more expensive than stylists. The reason being that the skill sets that an image consultant has is beyond styling.[pullquote]Image Consultants are sometimes more expensive than stylists as their skill sets go beyond styling- it is also psychological.[/pullquote] They go to schools to get trained to learn how to understand people better. A stylist will tell you what trends you should purchase and what clothes suits you. An image consultant has been trained to go beyond this. They will analyse the root cause and see how your outfit is reflective of your inner needs and they are often not just styling you but also coaching you.An image consultants role is also very psychological.

e.g A person who wear frumpy outfits wants a makeover. An image consultant will try to understand why she has been wearing frumpy outfits so far. Is she or he conscious of her body in anyway or  demotivated with her job which reflects in the clothing. Often our social issues affect how we dress. Once an image consultant understand his/her background, find the root cause,only then suggest the right outfit which the person truly deserves. These changes are often then long-terms as it comes from within rather than from outer appearances.

Having said that, every image consultant understands the needs and budget of clients are different and often can customize packaged to suit their clients needs.

How much does an image consultant charge and how long does a session take ?

An image consultant can charge anywhere from $50/hr to $500/hr depending on services. It is always best to have a frank conversation with your image consultant. A typical styling session or style analysis which tells you your best and worst colors or how you should dress can go upto 2 hours and can cost $120-$300 (for 2 hours) on an average again depending on your needs.

I know how to dress, so why should I hire an image consultant ?

The biggest issue we see with most people is that they either don’t know that they have a problem or if they do know, they don’t know what to do about it.[pullquote]The issue with most people is that they either don’t know that they have a problem or if they do know, they don’t know what to do about it.[/pullquote].We often undermine dressing as superficial but often don’t realise they are a lot of times more important than behaviour or communication. One tardy outfit can cost you your job or a date. Why should you struggle with choosing your outfits everyday , why not hire someone to help you be more organised. If you feel you are a compulsive shopper, sit with an image consultant and analyze your purchasing needs, get coached to live a ‘quality and not quantity lifestyle’. If you are struggling always to decide what to buy, know your style, colors and fit better with an image consultant. Don’t know what you stand for, work on your personal brand with an image consultant. It’s often the small things that matter and you don’t have to sweat it with that. Just like you have a fitness trainer to help you with your fitness goals or dietician to help with you diet, an image consultant is there to work on you image. If we don’t undermine the value of fitness trainers or nutrionist why do we undermine the creators of image.

Survey says that the need of image consultants are increasing day by day as people are realising that image is what ultimately counts in this fast-paced world where you might just get 3 minutes to make an impact.

Author : Nupur Singh is an image consultant and personal stylist who works with you on building the image that you need.She has worked with different clients both online and offline to help them create an impact in society. If you need a personal consultation,fashion advice,style photos shoots, dating help or branding and executive coaching, email her on

Taken at styling event


2 thoughts on “Fashion Stylist or an Image Consultant – Understand The Difference

  1. Thanks for helping me learn more about fashion stylist and image consultants. It’s nice to know that an image consultant can be certified and will need continuous education to be a member of the AICI. I wouldn’t mind knowing what this education is like and if it needs to be revisited every few years or so.

  2. Thankyou for this amazing post. Actullay i am confused that i choosed the image consultant profession or not but after reading your post and all aspects about fashion consultant i am sure that this profession is better for me.

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