With your business, Scarlett Image, you specialize in helping professional women transform their image and “stop stressing about dressing.” What would you say are the greatest challenges you see among the women you assist?
I see three common challenges: Weight, money, and fear.
Far too many women use their size as an excuse to not improve their wardrobe. They hide underneath loose, black, non-distinct clothes instead of wearing garments that make them look and feel attractive—and confident. It always amazes me how many wonderful women keep saying they want to lose weight before working with me. And if they are anything like me, that weight they want to lose often stays right where it is year after year, occasionally even increasing.
These women want to stop their daily struggle with what to wear, yet feel they need to change before making a change. So NOT true! I have clients who range from single to double-digit sizes and both groups struggle in their ability to choose the right clothes—many of the smaller sized women have even more insecurities about their image than the larger-sized ones. Women who wear the right clothes for their shape and personality automatically look thinner, and that’s a fact.
Women think that having a great wardrobe is expensive; that could not be further from the truth. Once a woman learns what style, fit, and colors her clothes should be, she can shop anywhere, from mass market to department stores. What matters is buying only items that meet the guidelines we’ve set for what works best for her and for her body.
I cannot tell you how many women buy clothes that they either never wear (the price tags are often still on them!) or no longer wear. That is a waste of money and of precious closet space. Another waste of money is buying the same style in every color or print. Women who have done this tend to always look the same and, if their body changes even just a bit, all those duplicates may no longer look good.
Of course, the most expensive potential outcome for professional women may be money lost in salary and sales: I have clients who couldn’t grow their business and income until they realized that the first impression they were making was not helping them attract big clients and promotions.
Sometimes a woman is afraid of working with an image consultant because she thinks this kind of service is only for the wealthy and famous. Magazines and TV shows only add to this insecurity and self-doubt. The truth is that working one-on-one with a stylist—in person or virtually—will help a woman stop comparing herself to others. Instead, she can start focusing on her own image and can become a role model for herself as well as for her daughters, nieces, and friends.
Change can be scary because of the unknown. We are all occasionally afraid of trying something different, even if it will impact our lives positively.
Some women are afraid of working with me because they feel nervous about allowing me into such a personal part of their lives. Every woman I work and speak with thinks she is the only one with the “I don’t know what to wear” and “I hate shopping” inner dialogue, yet she is not alone. I bet at least 75% of your readers feel the same way!
The funny thing is that, in less than 20 minutes, the women I work with have totally forgotten they were nervous to begin with. They are too busy laughing, as I use humor to take the stress out of the process. They’re also relieved to finally understand why some clothes work, while others don’t, for their proportions.
With knowledge there is power, and once a woman knows what works for her own unique body and lifestyle, she is no longer afraid to make wrong choices in what she buys and wears.
On the flip side, what kinds of opportunities do you see for these women to revamp their style?
Once they turn 40 or older, women realize they are their own judge and jury, not the others around them. It is up to them to do the right thing for themselves—and it does not involve torturous and ineffective diets or self-loathing.
Some women realize that they have been so busy focusing on their children and families that they have actually forgotten to take care of themselves.
These women are often starting new personal and career journeys and they want to look good while doing so. They see that their bodies are not quite what they once were and are ready to be real with themselves.
They are tired of being unhappy every time they open their closet and try to decide what to wear; they start to understand how that affects their lives in a negative way.
I see women in midlife develop way more confidence in themselves, which impacts both their business and personal lives. Negative self-talk diminishes when a woman discovers how great she can look, and that it is not about having lots of clothes or being a size 6. Truly, a woman of any age, size, and budget can have a fantastic selection of clothes and shoes.
Women who have stopped wearing outdated and ill-fitting clothes literally look younger, thinner, and taller (that used to be a tagline of mine).
It is also far easier to compete in the workplace when your wardrobe is updated. In the business world, if a woman dresses in a way that shows lack of confidence or concern, she is sending a message to her peers, clients, and potential clients, that she is not forward thinking, current, or willing to work hard. That may not be the truth, but it is the message being sent out.
In other words, life gets a lot more fulfilling for a woman when she decides to like herself better, which is easy to do when you have more confidence.
How do you work with women in your personal consulting business?
Women are unique individuals, yet they all want the same outcome: to look good, be comfortable, and exude confidence. Most importantly, they want to like seeing their reflection in the mirror.
I work with clients virtually and/or personally with the obtainable goal to end each woman’s struggle with her wardrobe needs and wants. I am able to create flattering outfits using what a woman already owns, then agree on a list of the pieces and accessories she needs to expand her existing wardrobe.
She also learns the specifics of what colors, style, and fit will transform her image, as well as what she should and shouldn’t be wearing. She never has to get rid of all her clothes, nor buy tons of new ones. Working with me is nothing like the show What Not To Wear. There are no garbage cans or tears involved, EVER. I give women Real-Overs, not makeovers. Each woman deserves to look like herself in the best possible way. My joy is to show her how.
The truth is that when you have the right clothes, you will have less in your closet but far more outfits to wear. I share the “less is more” philosophy and it is truly amazing how it works with clothes.
Can you tell us a bit more about the types of women’s issues you’ve helped address in your work with clients?
Self-Image: My client just wants to finally know what to wear and stop being miserable. Just because she is over 40, 50, 60, 70, and yes, even 80, does not mean she has to hate how she looks in clothes. She is done feeling insecure and wants to not look or feel frumpy.
Speakers: Very often women who are starting to do some public speaking will call me after having followed me for quite a while. Their fear of what to wear may sometimes be as great as their fear of speaking. Wearing clothes that look and feel good, and do not distract the audience, can make a huge difference in these women’s confidence.
Career Goals: Women who are either starting their own business, going back into the workforce, or are looking to grow their existing business and income.
Every woman I have worked with has told me that she could not get over how much more confident she has become. No more stressing about what to wear and buy, and no more wasting endless amounts of time, money, and energy.
What resources, besides your own, do you recommend?
Honestly, I do not suggest looking to magazines or TV shows for guidance or inspiration, as their purpose is to encourage you to shop. Their advertisers would not be happy if they didn’t. Instead, take a look at catalogs for inspiration; they show outfits that work in normal society, while some magazines show lifestyles that are not relatable to us regular folk. Some of my favorite catalogs for women in midlife are Soft Surroundings, Garnet Hill, and Chico’s.
When my clients are looking for help with makeup, I recommend the Bobbi Brown makeup artists located in department stores. They apply makeup with a light hand for a natural and easy to duplicate look. Always ask to be taught how to apply the makeup yourself. Too much makeup ages a woman. I also suggest women try a different hairstyle. Wearing hair, makeup, and yes, even clothes, in the same style for years, or decades, is very aging for women.
Contact Scarlett De Bease
at email@example.com or 914-441-0756
Image Curator | Personal Shopper | Speaker
Scarlett lives in Westchester, NY, and works personally with clients in her area as well as in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and New York City. She will travel greater distances if expenses are covered. She also works virtually with women all across the country, Canada, and even Paris, France!
Scarlett De Bease, is a professional Image and Style Coach. Known for her “real–overs,” not makeovers, De Bease specializes in working with professional women of all sizes, typically over 40, who lack confidence in their appearance, hate shopping, are unable to figure out how to dress for their bodies, and want to stop getting frustrated when they see their reflection in the mirror. They are tired of stressing about dressing and ready to stop hiding in clothes that do not reflect their personalities and talent.
Westchester Magazine named Scarlett De Bease “The Red Hot Image Maker” in 2012. This title reflects the reputation she has for transforming countless women, from struggling with how to dress their bodies and often damaged egos, to being able to hold their head high and proud.
The women whose lives she has touched, with her ability to end their difficulties with body image issues, say “Scarlett has changed my life” very often in their testimonials and personal notes. Ms. De Bease prides herself on being honest about her own imperfections, thereby clients find her very relatable with the wardrobe styling advice she shares. They also love her ability to bring humor and lightheartedness to their lives, after having spent years or decades struggling with their inability to feel comfortable about their appearance in the clothes they owned.