If you are a serious about presenting your most natural feminine look, you have most likely wondered why certain colors and styles work well for you and others do not. A professional image consultation solves these mysteries.
Sure, a lot of appearance adjustments can be made with artistic makeup and wardrobe trial and error. I know this path well after decades of costly experimentation and purging. By “purging” in this case, I am referring to donating or tossing things that just do not look, or make you feel, great. For me, that was the vast majority of my garments, wigs, and shoes. What a waste!
Wouldn’t it be great if you could magically and reliably understand what your best:
- Makeup scheme for your eye color and skin tone,
- Wig style and color for your faces shape, and
- Garment styles and colors for your body shape.
Well it is possible with a professional image consultation. At least it was for me and I decided to write about the experience to encourage others to seek expert advice on these critical issues.
My adventure began when my friend Kimberly Moore mentioned she had a terrific image consultant experience with Dr. Lynne Glassman, the “Doctor of Dress” .
Specifically, Kimberly wrote “She (Dr. Glassman) gave me a color assessment, which was both fascinating and enlightening, followed by a makeover. I am blown away by the results. I left there floating on a cloud and feel much more confident in my look and how to achieve my best appearance given my skin undertones.” Based on Kimberly’s testimonial, I was highly curious.
Anyone who’s met Kimberly, or seen her photos on Flickr, immediately understands she is naturally beautiful. That certainly was my first impression when we met a couple years ago. She always struck me as super-confident, accomplished with makeup, realistic in fashion sense, with very feminine in gestures and gait, and fun to be with….the perfect woman! Why would she, of all people I wondered, be excited by results of an image consult?
Apparently the consultation experience was a gift so Kimberly felt there was little risk to her except for a modest investment of time. She went with an open mind and desire to learn. What a smart lady!
Though not present for Kimberly’s visit, comments about the experience motivated me to dig deeper. First, Kimberly said that she left the appointment with Dr. Glassman feeling super confident in her makeup and wardrobe colors in a way she had never felt before. What??? I learned from this honest point of view that even someone as practiced and experienced as Kimberly appreciated the assurance of an expert opinion. Later, when I telephoned Dr. Glassman to learn about her services, she explained that she had no idea Kimberly was a transwoman until that information was shared after their appointment started. Wow!! As naturally beautiful as Kimberly already was, Dr. Glassman knew she could still help her. In fact, Dr. Glassman believes that most women would benefit from professional image advice regardless of their previous experience. NOTE: This information is shared with Kimberly’s permission. Also note that Dr. Glassman has a strict confidentiality policy about her clients.
The photos below of Kimberly are “after” her image consultation experience and relying on advice consistent with Dr. Glassman’s recommended color palette. Gorgeous, don’t you agree?
So I booked my own appointment with Dr. Glassman for a color analysis and a full silhouette analysis which included a face shape analysis. Fortunately Dr. Glassman is based in the Washington, DC area so it was an easy day-trip for me. For out-of-towners, I suspect Washington, DC could be a common business or Holiday destination so if you are interested this might be a useful side trip.
The following are some notes on my experience and results.
I had no idea how sophisticated and detailed the process would be. Dr. Glassman was methodical as she had me hold fabric swatches near my face to evaluate skin tone and the same with colored paper frames for my eyes. Fascinating! After narrowing it down to a few, she asked me to compare the subtle differences among the finalists. I was shocked to see how minor differences in tone yielded hugely different results! This step alone took about an hour – but I probably slowed the process up with questions and other verbal distractions. Advice: Let Dr. Glassman do her job with fewer questions – she needs to concentrate! Result: My color palette is commonly referred to as “Contrasting Imperial Winter.” (Kim says she is also a “Winter”) This terminology is based on a four seasons’ system (Everyone has a base season) and subtleties within each season – which has been around for years. After years of makeovers and dozens of makeup artist experiences – I had no idea that my palette could be determined by a systemic analysis! Once your palette is known, your ideal color choices based on your natural skin tone and eye color become easier – whether makeup, jewelry or wardrobe! I felt a secret key to understanding life had been given to me.
To help me understand and guide further, I was provided with a pocket-sized Lifestyle Palette about two weeks after my appointment. See the following photo.
The 40 colors are uniquely mine and selected through a precise computer-assisted analysis of the skin, hair, and eye color conducted by Dr. Glassman. She inscribed instructions, or notes, on the reverse of many of the samples to help me understand how to use them. For example, eye enhancer, hair enhancer, best basic black (There are many different blacks!).
Armed with this palette, I felt I had a scientific, logical, and time-tested basis for selecting wig colors, eye and face makeup colors, garments and even metallic jewelry colors.
As a practical exercise, I brought a bunch of my favorite wigs and a few outfits I was planning to use in the upcoming weeks for on-the-spot analysis. Based on my color palette, we quickly identified the best wig (out of six!) and the best dress to wear to a Holiday party. For the first time, I felt totally confident these were the right choices. The selfie photo of me following is with me wearing Dr. Glassman’s recommended hair and makeup colors.
Not a coincidence
Some of the makeup artists I’ve worked with must have understood what looked right on me. Many made the right choices intuitively-they are experienced artists after all. So I want to make clear that this experience with Dr. Glassman was eye-opening and valuable because I’m more a scientist than an artist….perhaps a scientist who has learned from trial and error, or error and error in my case. It’s not a coincidence for example that my “best” wig was originally chosen for me by Monica Prata and my makeup mirrored Elizabeth Taylor’s most recent work. In a subsequent makeover visit with Elizabeth, she marveled at how well Dr. Glassman’s recommendations worked for me. Now I better understand why. Of course, I still plan to experiment and gain advice from artists and consultants, but it feels great knowing how to develop a wardrobe completely keyed to my personal color palette.
If that was all that was accomplished with Dr. Glassman, I’d have been more than satisfied, but there was more!
Full Silhouette Analysis
I did not initially expect any surprises in learning about my body shape, but after the color analysis I knew it was a mistake to make any assumptions with Dr. Glassman.
She used a traditional cloth tape measure and unfamiliar specialty devices such as a body caliper (not for body fat, but for measuring entire body profiles/portions!). The big caliper looked like a medieval torture instrument! In her totally professional way, Dr. Glassman collected accurate and precise data from which to draw conclusions and make important wardrobe recommendations. NOTE: Even though my men’s suits are custom made, I can assure you that some of her measurements have never been made previously – at least not the way she did it!
The overall result did not confirm my expected body shape and there were other surprises! I’ve always assumed I presented an inverted triangle shape. That’s because I have an athletic male body characterized by wide shoulders and small waist. Most men seek this image (I used to!), but it’s not expected of women unless they are very athletic such as competitive swimmers.
Some interesting results were that:
- I present a “curvilinear”outside line. Basically, this is middle ground between “curved” (i.e. curvy like Betty Boop) and “linear” (i.e. straight line like Olive Oyl). This was exciting because it meant I had a reasonable natural shape to work with!
- My inside line, based on my face shape, is “angled”. This was a big surprise. I always thought my face was “ovalish” and based my wig style on that belief! As it turns out-I am squarer than any other shape. Dr. Glassman had to work harder than normal to convince me of my long established face shape belief by resorting to measurements of course. Well this explained why some hair styles looked great on models and not on me. One scene in particular, where I sought a classic Cleopatra look, was just not successful and my accurate face shape explained why.
- My arms are measurably longer than average so long sleeved woman’s wear will always feel and appear short! This data validated my previous experience with off-the-peg clothes.
Most women know these things after years of trial and error and through feedback from honest friends. In the absence of these useful feedback systems over time, Dr. Glassman’s analysis was very valuable to me. I truly wish this had been done sooner!
It’s not possible to remember everything nor take notes fast enough during Dr. Glassman’s meeting, so a book of customized advice provided afterwards was especially useful. A copy of mine in a three ring binder is shown in the following photo.
Illustrated with diagrams and photos, this book highlights areas I needed to work on to present my best image. The target areas were based on both Dr. Glassman’s advice and my answers to a questionnaire she guided me through that was useful for identifying preferences. For example, through the questionnaire, I indicated that I would like my:
- Feet to appear shorter
- Arms to appear shorter
- Neck to look longer
- Shape to appear more curved
For each of these goals the book presents practical wardrobe and accessory advice with examples.
To understand the full scope of the advice made available, a photo of the Table of Contents follows. As you can see, it is quite comprehensive.
Now that I described how useful this experience was, the remaining question is “Was it worth it?” For me, the answer is an unhesitating “YES!”
The Price of Dr. Glassman’s color and shape analysis was a few hundred dollars with tip. For those who are interested, please contact her directly for current pricing and packages. She provides other related and valuable services as indicated on her website.
That price may seem a lot for some but I’d ask those to consider the cost of their time, makeup, wigs, and clothing in failed experiments. For me that total cost is beyond calculation – but it’s a lot.
As a bonus, Dr. Glassman provided important advice by telephone a few times after our in-person visit on specific hair and wardrobe questions. It was obvious she cared about client satisfaction.
Certainly, there are other image consultants out there. So if this article encourages you to seek them out please write to let us know how it went. Dr. Glassman treated me and Kimberly (transwomen) in a completely professional manner and it would be good to know there are others.
I got to put all Dr. Glassman’s advice to the test when preparing for a Washington, DC Holiday party I wrote about last December, 2016. The following photo is from that article and provided for reference here. My makeup, hair color and style, dress color and style were all selected based on my new-found knowledge. I’ve never received so many genuine positive comments in person and online so quickly -so it’s not just my impression – others agree.
The few hours of Dr. Glassman’s individual advice and feedback on my color and shape have forever changed the way I will approach my image. Making decisions about garments, hair and makeup will be made with super confidence now and this alone more than makes her fee extremely reasonable.
Though Dr. Glassman may not be available to everyone, it’s clear to me that many women would benefit from professional advice – even those as “perfect” as Kimberly. For me, the experience was priceless.
Interesting: Having told my wife about the experience, she is now eager to try so I have offered her a gift image consultation of her own.
No Guarantee: Please do not criticize me for not looking perfect in future photos and meetings! I definitely plan to continue experimentation with my look and naturally expect to learn from failures and successes.
Check the Sister House Library, Transformation and Image Consulting Services for image consultants and transformation/makeup artists in your area.