I remember showing up to a client’s closet appointment. He’d gotten some new clothes on a shopping trip while he was out of town. He has a favorite designer and he came upon a sale he couldn’t walk away from. I supported his indulgence 100%!
But he needed us. He needed Erin and me to go through his latest buys and put them into outfits he could wear next week. “Next week” wasn’t so much his criteria as it was mine. I always like leaving my client’s home knowing that he or she would be set for the next few weeks for whatever events or lifestyle activities were coming up.
I did a check-in at the beginning of the appointment just to be sure I understood his wants and wishes for our afternoon session together. He started telling me about some of the people he sees at events he attends. You might even say he was off point and rambling, but I listened. He was describing some of the men and women he encounters and how they look. He shared details of their ensembles. He’d been paying close attention for some time!
It started to dawn on me that he could be hinting at a hidden wish to be doing what they were doing. I continued to listen and to picture the details in my mind’s eye that he was describing. I could see what he was seeing. He was talking about individuals who took the time and made the effort to follow their own style direction rather than showing up in uniforms that are on the blah side.
I decided to test my theory. I asked him, “Would you like to be expressing yourself in your own unique way like they are?” He said, “Oh yes! My worst fear is that yet one more person takes me for an accountant.”
He’s not an accountant but I could see how he might have been seen that way!
Something came up about glasses and how expressive glasses are. Again, I thought he was just sharing, but what if he wasn’t? What if he was putting in an order for help getting new glasses?
“Glasses would be a great way to express your individuality and not be mistaken for an accountant. I could make an appointment for us to go shop for glasses. I’ve got a great resource,” I said.
In his mild-mannered way, he said. “Well, I’ll follow your lead. Tell me when and where and I’ll be there!”
He enjoyed the experience so much that he purchased several pairs.
“Well, now you’ll have to come back and pair each of these with the outfits you made for me because I don’t how to do that.”
“No problem,” I said.
When I was in New Mexico this summer I texted him pictures of some very creative bow ties made of feathers. “What do you think about adding these to your wardrobe? They’re beautiful, unique and I think you can pull it off.”
“You’ll just need to put them into outfits so I know how to wear them,” he said.
Without testing my hunch, I don’t think he’d have been able to express what he wanted to have for himself. At the time I was amazed at his perception. It was like he was an anthropologist of style. Now that we’re moving in the right direction It’s fun keeping an eye out for interesting scarves and color combinations I could put together for him.
What I walked away knowing was that there’s listening, and then there’s listening. Deep listening is a working necessity for an image consultant. Serve your clients well by looking for the layer of understanding that they aren’t aware of themselves. They’ll love you for it!