Professional Stylists & Image Consultants, and Why You Gotta Love Rachel Zoe

Whether or not you’re a fan of reality television, if you follow fashion, you’re almost certainly familiar with Rachel Zoe. Zoe is perhaps the most well-known of the celebrity stylists, and has selected the gowns and jewels that have adorned and earned kudos for many A-list celebrities at televised red carpet events over the last several years. Delightfully, we have been able to peek into her world on her Bravo TV show The Rachel Zoe Project and now also in a four-page feature story by Marion Fasel in the April 2010 issue of InStyle magazine.

Zoe is the most visible of the genre of professional stylists who assist celebrities or other individuals in dressing for special events or photo shoots, and the related genre of professional image consultants who work with individuals to determine what colors, proportions and styles are most flattering and help them develop well-edited personal wardrobes to meet the needs of their lifestyles.

It should not be surprising that people who work with individuals’ wardrobes or who dress individuals for special events understand the value of adding jewelry to a look. Jewelry adds polish or sass, draws the eye where the wearer desires it to go, and provides more than a hint of the personality of the wearer. Indeed, jewelry speaks volumes.

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Illustration: Rachel Zoe, pictured in the April 2010 issue of InStyle magazine.

As befitting her exuberant personality, Zoe herself wears plenty of jewels, reportedly at least 12 pieces on any given day in a combination of real and faux, and confesses to owning over 1,000 pieces of costume jewelry. To further add to her collection, she is now designing a costume line for QVC. Her philosophy is “too much is never enough” and told InStyle: “You know that rule, ‘When in doubt, take something off’? For me, I just put on more!”

Zoe’s style rules will not appeal to all women, and indeed, she herself typically uses less excessive amounts of jewelry to adorn her clients on the red carpet. Most of the jewels used for these events, like the designer dresses, are borrowed from high-end fine jewelers. The value of the publicity garnered for these designers when their pieces are seen on the red carpet is incalculable.

Most individuals in most circumstances do not have the same ability to borrow gems, and it is in the selection of jewelry and the wise expenditure of funds to develop a good working jewelry wardrobe that an image consultant can be especially helpful. An image consultant will approach jewelry from the standpoint of what is most flattering to the wearer. Thus, Zoe may opine that golden jewelry is “more youthful and little bit cooler [than silver],” but she has warm coloring and blonde hair, so she can be expected to prefer yellow gold and golden costume pieces; they will be more flattering to her personally. An image consultant will help a client with cool coloring (pink or blue undertones to the skin) understand that silver, or the more upscale metals platinum and white gold, are preferable choices for her to wear against her skin.

I encourage fine jewelers and jewelry designers to establish connections with image consultants and personal stylists. You can be a valuable resource to them as they assist their clients, and they, in turn, may well introduce new clients to your designs and your stores. If you restyle old jewelry or create custom designs, be sure to let your local image consultants and stylists know this. Image consultants may advise you when a client is looking to purchase a certain style of jewelry or pieces set with a particular color of gemstone to see whether you have or can create or bring in something that might appeal.

Professional image consultants receive certification through the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI), which has an international directory of image consultants available online at www.aici.org. (I remind my readers that I have achieved AICI’s Certified Image Professional, or CIP, designation.) Professional stylists do not have a similar umbrella organization to attest to their skills and qualifications, so be sure to seek personal recommendations and the testimonials of satisfied clients if you wish to engage a stylist. It is wise to make similar inquiries relative to image consultants as well.

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Illustration: Rachel Zoe’s jewelry closet, as pictured in InStyle

Zoe’s profile in InStyle is well worth reading. If you’re a snob about fine jewelry, you may find that Zoe makes a compelling case for mixing it up with costume. Her perfect mix of jewelry includes big earrings with big necklaces, mismatched stacked rings, a cocktail ring on an index finger or even on a thumb, and brooches, which “are back in a really big way right now,” in the hair or on a jacket lapel. She opines: “Jewelry should complement the style, not overpower it. The simpler the dress, the more jewelry and vice versa. A black or a white garment is a blank canvas for jewelry.”

Zoe also makes a compelling case for giving jewelry as a gift. She states in InStyle:

“I love giving jewelry for two reasons. One, it is sentimental. Whenever that person puts on that piece, they will think of you. Second, it is something they can wear every day. I don’t like to buy things for people that they wear once in a blue moon. If you get someone a jacket or a bag, they’ll probably only use it for a couple of months.”

You gotta love Rachel Zoe.