To say that I appreciate style is an understatement. I stare in awe at a pair of heels or the right bag, the way some people do sunsets and mountains. Now I don’t claim to be a fashion guru, but when someone pulls off the right look, I can’t help but notice and I usually let them know it. Now if I’m the one pulling off “the look”, I have a certain sway in my hips and curl to my lips. Can someone say phenomenal woman? Having your style together gives you that kind of confidence. Now pulling off the right look, consistently–that is the tricky part. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with someone who helps people do just that. Image Consultant Stella Williams has been helping people define, reinvent or polish their image for more than a decade. When you discuss fashion with Stella her enthusiasm and passion confirm that she is doing what she loves and she knows her stuff. Stella recently sat down with Rainy Day Diva to discuss what she does, how she does it and what women really need to know about fashion.
RDD: When you say image, many people think of celebrities, then they think of a stylist. Sometimes they use the words interchangeably. Explain what an image consultant does. Is it different from being a stylist?
Stella: A stylist is someone who has a vision for an event–a photo shoot, a video or a commercial and they dress their subject according to their vision for that event.They tell a person what to wear. An image consultant is for the every day person. They make you the best you. Most people get turned off by both names. Stylist sounds ritzy and image consultant may sound intrusive, but it is really for the everyday person who cares about the image they are presenting for their job, spouse or lifestyle.
A good example of that is First Lady Michelle Obama. Her image is now reflective of her role as First Lady, not the executive that she was previously.
RDD: How did you get started as an Image Consultant?
Stella: I was a hairstylist forever. I started braiding hair in middle school. Designing clothes in Home Economics, making prom dresses–I loved to sew. I always wanted people to look their best. In 1995 I began doing makeup for weddings. Gradually, I began dressing some of my clients. It was at a pivotal point (a birthday) that I decided I wanted to do what I loved professionally, which was dressing people. I began devouring books, then taking classes. Eventually, I received my certification from the Association of Image Consultants International. Then, along with my business partners, I founded Complete Definition Image Consulting, LLC.
RDD: What is the biggest fashion mistake that you see most women make?
Stella: Not dressing for their body type. They aren’t wearing the proper foundations (undergarments) and so their silhouette is not smooth. You can’t see the line of their body. I can’t say enough about that.
RDD: What should women always do or never do, when it comes to their appearance?
Stella: Never think that nobody is paying attention to you or that eyes aren’t on you. Always invest that extra 5 minutes (to polish your look). Even when at home with your family or significant other–they care about your appearance, too. Don’t skimp on that extra facial cleansing or moisturizer. You’re worth it.
RDD: Trends versus Classics. When is it OK to be trendy? Is it OK?
Stella: It is always appropriate to be age-appropriate trendy. When your pocketbook says it’s OK, you can afford it, then, trendy means that you are growing. As long as it is age-appropriate, office-appropriate and socially-appropriate.
RDD: How do you tell the difference between classics and trendy?
Stella: Most people follow what they see where they live. They may have a southern style, but NY style is different. There really are only ten classic items. For example, a trench coat is a classic. You can always mix trends with classics.
RDD: How do you help someone find or reinvent their style?
Stella: I have them tell me about their goals, what do they want their style to communicate about them. If they want respect, then they have to be respectable. [Through image] they have to practice what they preach. People really have to marinate over it. Having an image consultant can be intrusive. It is not to break you, but to rebuild and reinvent.
RDD: So having an image consultant could be described as professional development that focuses on style?
RDD: Rainy Day Diva is for the undeniably grown, of all ages and stages, is it ever too late to be concerned about image?
Stella: It is never too late. As long as you have breath in your body. I’ve worked with clients that are retiring and want to change their image since they are leaving the work force, housewives who are returning to the work force and those leaving the corporate world and transitioning to entrepreneurship. Sometimes it’s about teaching people how to dress up or dress down depending on where they are in their life. I also work with students, helping them transition from the dorm room to the board room.
RDD: What is the one thing you want women to remember when it comes to appearance and image?
Stella: You’re worth it. You are absolutely worth it.