The Image of Life on the River

Things aren’t always as they appear…

There are days when I get exasperated because yet another bunch of flowers has been pulled from my front window box.  The guards posted next door and across the street help, but they can’t catch everyone.

These aren’t Buckingham Palace guards or the National Guard – they are my transient neighbors in the motels nearby – who would prefer to see a full flower box to a vandalized one.  They promise to take care of the flower-pulling culprits with their beer bottles, and they enthusiastically let me know when they have done so.

It’s been almost two years living in downtown Reno, Nevada, a place my relatives advised us not to live. Some, in fact, will not visit us here. It’s an older neighborhood, mere blocks from the casinos, surrounded by motels, funeral homes, hair salons and a tarot card reader (their sign reads: advice in all matters, which I have neglected to take them up on, but may when it comes to a toothbrush selection).  Just a block away are lawyers, boutiques and the Truckee River walk including new coffee shops, chocolate delights and a swanky French restaurant.

As an image consultant, why am I writing about my strange (but interesting) habitat? 

Because there are many parallels between my business image (what it looks like here) and the clients I work with and their image.  It felt risky coming here because it’s quite a colorful neighborhood.  I’ve had to trust that there is a process to knowing our neighbors and building trust with them.

Sometimes our neighbors are homeless folks who use our grass as a bed.  Sometimes our neighbors are a gaggle of young kids from the nearby church and school, the owner of the bar next door or college kids on their way to the River.

So if you automatically think of an image consultant’s studio being situated in a more “beautiful” part of town, in lush surroundings with fountains and birds singing, remember: things aren’t always as they seem. There are hidden gems everywhere. That’s what’s important to remember as you create your own authentic image.

Some people think of an image consultant as being a fashion stylist like you see on TV (think What Not To Wear).  While we may style your clothing (or help you to do it), and know a fair amount about fashion in general, our job is deeper than that.

To work with an image consultant in a way that gets results takes much more trust than just picking up a magazine and getting the top 10 tips for how to wear a summer dress.

While the fashion industry makes the “image of fashion” look as if it had only three components – youth, thinness and an unlimited supply of money and clothing – in reality we all struggle to find an image that is authentic, that fits our values and our lifestyle. Sometimes this means admitting that we don’t really trust ourselves to do that.

While some may approach the door of my studio and wonder about the image of the outside (here is a photo of that entrance), they leave knowing that who they are and what they love can be trusted and respected and translated into design elements in clothing.




The trust they place in me helps them learn to trust themselves, embrace who they are, and reject at least some of the struggle that the fashion industry’s “image of fashion” tries so hard to impose on us. They leave trusting their ability to make great clothing selections, to weed out that which does not serve them, and to live in a whole new space – in the city or outside of it!

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