Image is Everything

An editorial from Hale and Bowdon Magazine, courtesy of Colette Ali, Personal Image Consultant

For several months, I contributed to a lifestyle glossy in Cheshire called ‘Hale and Bowdon Magazine’. It was a challenge pulling different advice together for each publication, but I enjoyed passing on the tips. I’ve reproduced them here so those of you outside the circulation area (and that’s probably most of you!) can see what I was thinking about over the months.

Style is individual, and in this day and age, when so much emphasis is put on how we should look and portray ourselves, it’s essential to find the image you want and feel comfortable in. Who better to help you achieve that look than a consultant who can steer you in the right direction.

One such person is Bowdon businesswoman Colette Ali, whose company caters for female clients looking for the right style and appearance that will give them confidence. So armed with a distinct lack of knowledge of women’s fashion, I introduced myself to Colette with slight trepidation (envisaging her professional opinion of my appearance!).

I needn’t have worried; Colette greeted me with warmth and a smile as she introduced herself. I came with no real expectations, though I had thought I was about to meet a clone of “Trinny and Suzanna”! I couldn’t have been further from the truth however, as Colette commented that their rather “brutal advice” is all probably for the TV cameras and she is never that harsh with her clients – it’s just not her approach. That reassured me as she told me how it all started.

Colette’s background in nursing has spanned 26 years since leaving school. Latterly, she had been working as the lead nurse at Manchester Airport in their immigration and detention centre (a fluent speaker of Urdu being a skill she had acquired). With her son entering boarding school, the opportunity seemed right to retrain in a completely new field, and fashion fitted the bill – a natural progression for a ‘people person’.

With this in mind, she embarked on a course at the renowned Alicia Kite Academy near Nottingham for a three-week residential stay covering all aspects of image and style. There she was able to learn from Alicia Kite’s 25 years’ experience as an Independent Consultant with links to high street fashion and designers. With this knowledge, Colette setup her own business.

“Dress who you want to be, not just who you are”

She is quick to point out that the role of an image consultant is not just about clothes and fashion, which is the general perception; it is also to do with instilling confidence, style and self-esteem that people can take forward in their everyday lives. As she says, image is important as first impressions last. “Dress who you want to be, not just who you are” is her advice.

It’s evident that the consultancy is thriving, with a cross-section of people approaching Colette for her expertise, be it someone looking for the right image in a new job, someone who has recently lost weight, or new mums and those yearning to be trendier. The emphasis is on what works for that individual and what makes them feel better inside.

I get the impression that Colette clearly loves the reward she gains from guiding people in the right direction. Her professionalism constantly evolves; she is in regular contact with forums and networks attributed to the academy she trained at. Here she can tap into new ideas and trends, so she is always one step ahead of the game.

So what does the future hold? Well, she is determined to keep busy creating and building a dynamic business. A natural progression would be to branch out into men’s fashion (indeed, the requests have already started from ladies wanting help for their husbands!) But for now, she is happy to concentrate on ‘keeping her finger on the pulse’ of ladies’ fashion.

By Chris Wellman

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