Choosing someone to help you with your image, wardrobe and signature style is very personal so you want to be sure you feel comfortable with your choice.
I have a confession to make. I have not always felt confident about my personal style. In fact, I was almost 30 years old before I found a look that felt deliciously right to me. This comes as a surprise to many since there’s a common expectation that all image consultants have had a flair for fashion since birth and used to dress her friends as a teen, shopped ‘til they dropped after school, etc. That was not true for me. (Just take one look at the picture below (I was in my early 20’s) to know that I was clueless! Me in pink – what was I thinking and even though vests were in…well, enough said!)
I suspect part of the problem was that mini skirts were in style in the 1970’s when I was a teenager (in fact, they were the only length in style at the time), and I just don’t have the legs for short skirts. (Trust me, I don’t!) And, back then we were required to wear skirts to school (pants were not allowed except the winter of my senior year when it was so cold we had red knees every day so they gave in). I am knock-kneed, my legs are white with freckles, and I’m pigeon-toed (especially in my left foot). Not exactly the ideal legs for short skirts, and I was extremely sensitive about them! Of course, I have since learned exactly what length skirt is flattering and of course my choice of shoes is critical to finish the outfit. Not knowing any of that back then, I just felt embarrassed.
Before I became a fashion stylist and image consultant, I majored in music at Mount Holyoke College (a music major — who would ever think that would lead to a career in fashion!). Fresh out of college I was intrigued by the fashion industry but had no clue if I had a gift for it or if it could turn into a profession (fashion was really different back then)! On a whim, I attended modeling school because I thought that would be a great way to learn about the industry. How wrong I was (more on that in a minute)! I was 30 before I figured out how to dress in a way that made me feel good inside and out. Before that I spent countless hours and wasted tons of energy and money copying what others wore (see the photo of me in my ‘earthy-crunchy’ outfit), and trying to fit into what society dictated I “should” wear. I was miserable.
After college and modeling school, I moved to the Boston area. During those first few years in Cambridge I worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Biology Dept. not as a researcher but as a word processor (a glorified typist (I could type 120 wpm) where I learned all my computer skills!). Everyone (as you can see from the group picture) wore super casual clothes and I, wanting to fit in and not knowing what else to wear, did the same. It never felt right to me, but I didn’t know what my options were until…
I went to a 3-day “fashion, color & image” seminar a few months before my 30th birthday. My future mentor, Nevena Cranney, taught me about style, design, color, balance, makeup…you name it. I felt like I had been reborn. Gone were my funky sweaters, my Birkenstocks (yup, the original ones), and blue jeans (which I never found to be comfortable (before stretch!) anyway). I was in my element and there was no stopping me! With her blessing and guidance I started my business the day after the workshop and have never looked back.
While in modeling school, I observed the instructors constantly berate one girl in the class (she was only 15 years old) about her weight. She was maybe 10-15 pounds overweight at most, even by model standards.
Watching how horrible she felt as the instructors commented on her weight was a life altering experience and shaped my entire future. I vowed I would find a career where I could empower women to feel good about who they are inside and out. Although it took me another 8 years, I finally discovered image consulting and never looked back!
All of this is to say that I spent the first 30 years of my life trying to understand how to navigate the world of fashion – and not doing a particularly good job of it. Now I know it doesn’t have to take nearly that long and that often having some help and guidance makes all the difference in the world…it did for me!
I do not regret any of my opportunities for personal exploration – they all led me to where I am now. I have an appreciation for what it feels like to want to look and feel great but not know how to do it. I also admire many different looks and styles and know first hand that not all of them work for me.
I believe that every woman deserves to look and feel radiant and pulled together every day. I wholeheartedly believe you can create a dynamic personal and professional image without relinquishing personal style or comfort. As a modern woman, you absolutely CAN communicate who you are through what you wear, in a way that’s empowering – for you and for those around you.
I’m here to help empower you do that – in a way that’s compassionate, gentle, intuitive, and extremely up to date on fashion tips, tools and trends (bless their hearts so many of my clients don’t even know where to start in the overwhelming sea of information that’s out there – I help them cut through the noise and the clutter to find things that really work for them).
I’m also here to help you with very practical things like:
I have a deep passion for and commitment to health, beauty and cruelty-free living. I’m grateful for the choices we have in this modern world. In 2005, I adopted veganism as a way of life and quickly realized that this personal commitment would directly impact my business. At a time when the terms “stylish” and “vegan” rarely appeared in the same sentence, my mission became to prove that the two could happily co-exist. I’m so pleased to report that they can! I offer guidance, support and insight to my vegan (or just curious and open-minded) clients showing them how to dress fashionably and still be true to their values.
I launched Total Image Consultants in 1987 and recently celebrated my 28th year in business! If I “know” anything after 28 years it’s that I know what happens when we as women are empowered and how much we hold ourselves back when we are not. There is nothing worse than when a woman holds herself back. You know it. You feel it. We’ve all done it.
My heartfelt mission is to empower each woman I work with to feel great about herself and realize her inner potential.
My flagship virtual coaching program, Who Taught You How to Dress, empowers women all over the world to overcome the obstacles and learn the skills they need to create a wardrobe they love in the comfort of their own home!
“All of this experience to improve my image, and create a wardrobe for me to look competent (and maintain my natural beauty, fun, resourceful, independent self) has by no means gone to waste. I took almost all of my new wardrobe with me to that conference in D.C. last week, and boy does the world treat you differently when you dress for success. I also expect to have some publicity when Bob Greene's book 20 Years Younger comes out (I’m a contributing author), so I had a headshot done (see www. dianemckay.com - it's the only thing on my website). Of course, the outfit makes the picture (and makes me feel as competent as I look in it!). I have no idea what to expect when this book comes out, but I am ready for it because I know I can look fabulous in a heartbeat. I would love to work with you some more. Thank you!!”