Image coach: Fashion is an investment
October 13, 2017
For Kathleen Audet, clothing should be considered a significant investment, much like buying a new car or house.
She considers clothing a reflection of a person's personality that in the business world can send a nonverbal message, sometimes the wrong way.
"Image consulting should be considered an investment in yourself because most people only wear about 20 percent of their clothing. You leave a lot of money on the table when you don't have a plan," Audet said. "Clothing is a resource we can use to reach our goals, because in the business world we automatically send a nonverbal, right or wrong message with them. If we are aware of the nonverbal, we can manage our image and appearance."
Audet is an image coach and owner of Your Authentic Image based in Reno, where she consults with a variety of corporate and individual clients locally and nationally on fashion concepts.
Finding the right fashion, she said, starts with a psychological analysis of a company or individual. Some of the questions she poses to individual clients include:
Who are you.
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What do you want.
How do you want to be perceived.
What are your goals.
Where do you see yourself in three to five years.
Can your clothing support your goals.
On her company website, she offers a ''free value assessment" survey as a starting point for finding the right fashion, among her many online services.
Her individual clients, whom she keeps confidential, often are changing jobs or careers or just need to be seen in entrepreneurial environments. One client was a professor at a college in Ohio who was promoted to vice president. He flew to Reno to consult with Audet to find a whole new wardrobe to fit his new position.
The fashion industry, she said, has changed dramatically in the last 25 years, particularly in the business world to a more casual approach. Finding that right balance between "business" and "casual," she admits, can be a challenge.
"The change that began with 'casual Fridays' is now 'casual everyday,' " Audet said. "But if your casual attire is also your work attire, does that mean you work 24/7?
"I think we have also confused comfortable with casual. In 2017 with all the technological advances we have, almost all clothing should be comfortable, but casual clothing does not always support the response we want first from ourselves and then from others."
One corporate client, an all-women business where the dress code is not clearly defined, balked at Audet's recommendations. But she stood firm that a clearly defined dress code needed to be put in place.
"With dress policies, you want to create a culture where employees are happy and productive so people feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves," Audet said. "Clothing guidelines can bring people together if they are well researched and presented appropriately."
Even if a company has a dress code, such as suits and ties for men and blouses for women, that does not mean it doesn't lend itself to individuality. She said men can alter the color of their suits or ties while women can incorporate subtle concepts, such as varying colors of buttons or try different accessories such as purses or handbags.
"Even if a company has a strict dress code, that doesn't mean one's individuality has to be lost," she said. "To me, dressing for success means choosing clothes and accessories within the context of who you are, what matters most to you, meaningful goals and your present reality. Ultimately, it means having a closet that supports you to look and feel your best every single day."
She has cosponsored the TedxUniversityofNevada for two years. Tedx, which started locally in 2013, presents various speakers and participants to share ideas, inspirational messages or causes to an audience. Audet created a 36-page guide for Tedx speakers and presenters on how to integrate fashion into their presentations.
"The speakers only have a few seconds to grab that and come up with the guide on how to capture that authenticity and really garner warmth and trust from the audience," she said.
She also has gone out of the Northern Nevada region for speaking engagements or workshops across the country.
With clients all over the country, she also consults with them via videoconference, which is administered by an production manager based in Pennsylvania.
Audet has three daughters, the youngest of whom is a student at Reno High School. With those obligations, she has to manage trips around her family life, making sure she has time for both.
Audet originally is from Reno but grew up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts before attending college in Boston. She developed a love of fashion and all things art, which led her to attend the Conselle Institute of Image Management in Provo, Utah.
She started her own company, Your Authentic Image, originally focusing on color analysis and makeup for personal and corporate clients.
Audet considered herself fashionable without giving much thought to what she wore on a daily basis. Suddenly she found herself uncomfortable and self-conscious in her clothes, and that awareness compelled her to re-examine the fashion for the sake of fashion formula and look for ways to allow clothing to empower instead.
She insists it was a positive turning point in her life, and it convinced her that dressing truthfully and authentically was something she could teach others.
In the meantime, Audet and her family, wanting a better quality of life, relocated to Reno where she continues to build the Your Authentic Image brand.
Her business was located in an office on Ryland Street in Reno, but the building was recently sold and she is looking for a new location. While she has been finding new office possibilities all over town, she prefers to stay in downtown Reno.
The majority of her clients are women, but she has a fair share of male customers, too. She said while clothes are always in abundance, finding the right size is not easy, especially for men. She has partnered with H.M. Cole Custom Clothiers, a men's outfitter based in Salt Lake City, to assist with male clientele.
She tries to work within a client's budget, utilizing outlets ranging from thrift stores such as Savers, to big-box retailers like Macy's or specialty outfitters including Patrick James or Jos. A Bank.
She has an administrator who comes in once a week, and her virtual assistant based in Utah who the website and her social media. While her business involves a variety of disciplines, Audet has found her calling as an image consultant and strategist.
"Fashion comes naturally to me and I love empowering people to use fashion to their advantage and never as something that causes frustration, confusion or angst," Audet said.