Archive for January, 2010


A Makeover Story


 At 39, Salma felt she needed a change. “I often have challenges in finding the right fit, both for casual and dressy outfits,” she admitted.
“I love clothes and fashion and wanted to update my closet with some items that were new this season yet would be classic additions to my wardrobe.”

Curves are great, but balance is the key (isn’t it always?) Salma’s pear-shaped body type requires a wider leg and higher-waist pant. Because so much of Salma’s figure is well proportioned, we can balance the hips by adding soft layers and volume to the other parts of the body without bulking her up. An executive, Salma needs to always wear professional pieces at work. A suit is a great choice because it lands confidence and authority. Prominent collars – either on a jacket or a shirt – balance the hip and bookend an outfit. A three-button jacket helps pull everything into place. The jacket shouldn’t be tight on the tummy but should create a line that narrows the waist.
This dress is an example of using all curves to their best advantage. We couldn’t get over how stunning Salma looked in this dress – it seemed as if it had been made for her.
A straight empire style dress emphasizes Salma’s curves, while adding balance to her body shape. Dutchess satin is structured and has enough weight to support curves and show them off. The detail on the top creates visual focus near her face, and elongates the silhouette. Any great bag would work here; one that matches the outfit or is in bold contrast to it.

“ I often wear my hair up as I have a natural curl in my hair and find it challenging to style” Salma confesses. Brent form The Lounge Hair Studio darkened her hair to a rich chocolate brown. “I’ve added some low lights to make it look more natural, and to give lust and shine to her hair. Then, I reshaped her layers so it would give her more body, movement and a trendier look’” he explained.

SKIN                                                                                                                                                                                           When I first met Salma, within the first few minutes of our conversation, she asked if we would include skincare in the makeover process.
“I have always approached my skin care with a long-term perspective. Since I’m reaching a milestone age, I want to learn some prevention skills to ensure that I am proactively looking after my skin while it’s still in good condition” she explained.  Salma’s main concerns were dark circles around the eyes and uneven skin tone.
We sent Salma to the Facial Rejuvenation Clinic. After a consultation, skin care experts recommended a mechanical exfoliation called microdermabrasion.
Through the use of gently abrasive crystals combined with an air stream, the microdermabrasion method gently removes the upper layer of dead skin cells. Removal of the dead tissue brings the healthy under layer of the skin to the surface, encouraging healthy cell rejuvenation. The process is entirely painless and non-invasive, usually taking less than 30 minutes for a complete facial treatment.

At the end of the session, Salma’s skin was softer, smoother and fresher looking.

Applied correctly, make-up can enhance a woman’s beauty by accentuating striking features or by creating visual illusions, for example.
Using foundation and concelear, I’ve started by evening out the skin tone and camouflaging Salma’s dark circles under the eyes.
Because she has a warm complexion and brown eyes, a dark green for eye lining is perfect for evening glamour. It creates contrast, therefore making the eyes stand out more.
I’ve darkened the brows to match her new hair colour, and applied shimmer eyeshadow to creative a more festive look. Two coats of mascara on the upper lashes completed the eye make-up. Warm toned blush for enhancing that fresh and healthy glow on her face, and a touch of coral lipstick finished the evening look.

After a lot of work but great fun, Salma was ready to share some thoughts about her makeover journey.
“This has truly been a transformation from the inside out. After a fitness assessment , I worked with my personal trainer to improve my posture, strength, and flexibility. This was followed by a wardrobe makeover with The Image Builders where I learned tips on finding the best fit and style for me, and updated my accessories. The make-up consultation was probably the best part, I love what Denisa did to my eyes. While it wasn’t always easy to let others make decisions on my behalf, the expert advice I received from all consultations in this makeover was outstanding – thank you so much!”

Photo credit Heather Goldsworthy from IMAGEOBSCURA,


Many thanks to: The Lounge Hair, The Facial Rejuvenation and Mixx Co-Fitness Studio for kindly contributing to Salma’s makeover.




Customer Service and Restaurant Culture in “Waitress for a Week”

Much of our work at the Image Builders (cultural awareness training, dining skills, social and business etiquette, personal presentation …) is vital to successful customer service. An article in Wednesday’s Globe and Mail newspaper is a perfect illustration of the prevalence and importance of these issues – and entertaining reading at that! The Globe’s restaurant critic, Alexandra Gill, gamely steps up to explore life on the other side of the dining experience.

Enjoy reading Alexandra’s story of her experience as a waitress for a week at Cioppino’s in Vancouver and then consider the points raised by The Image Builders below:   Waitress for a Week

1. Cultures are not only associated with nations or ethnicity; work environments have clearly defined cultures as do families, schools, neighbourhoods, teams … this becomes very clear when one enters into a new environment and looks for hints on what is considered appropriate behaviour.

2. Consider the diners in this article and then ponder your own dining persona. Does the image perceived by others match the image you think you’re projecting?

3. Non-verbal communication is even more expressive than verbal as this description of a Prima Donna patron shows: “…she yawned through my description of the specials, huffed because there wasn’t any salmon on the menu and shoved her plate off to the side before her date had finished eating.”

4. A kind word, patience and a respectful approach always make a positive impact.

This was a great article and will hopefully contribute to some enlightenment and awareness among diners … and beyond.

Read more about Image and perceptions  in a previous blogpost: Projected vs. Perceived Image


2010 Spring/Summer Fashion Trends

 Here are all the trends you need to know about for spring/summer 2010:



If ever there was a time to hit the gym, it’s this Spring. Hemlines have crept up to shorter than short. Hot pants, boy shorts, and tap pants are all variations on this shorter-than-short style.


Knee high socks – as well as over-the-knee and thigh high socks – are back as a trend, and the options on how to wear them are many. From the sporty to the sparkly, to layerings of socks over tights, a great pair of socks can add volumes to an outfit.


The military and tribal trends are becoming a fierce fashion trend. Ancient civilisations come to life in leather tunics, metal plating, and war paint. Unequivocally fearless and with room for endless creativity, the main criteria for the modern warrior is confidence.


How to pull off the ultimate in sexy without reaching for the micro-mini? Add a long dress with a high split to your Spring wardrobe. From Versace’s knock-out gowns to Lanvin’s elegantly draping numbers, we look at numerous ways to rock a high dress split.


Every so often, one-piece styles of clothing have a revival. What started with bodysuits and leotards is now becoming a fully-fledged trend towards jumpsuits, playsuits, and rompers. As a unique style for Spring 2010, they won’t be for everyone, but they will offer more options than you’d think.


No longer must we stick to boring block colours on our lower half, for all varieties of printed pants have made their way onto the Spring runways. Whether floral, striped, abstract, bold or subdued… patterns on pants are giving us new bold wardrobe options for the warmer months.


In Spring and Summer fashion tends to get a little more revealing.  2009/2010’s sheer pieces are a mixture of the soft and feminine, to the opposite extremes of the hardcore sex-kitten.


Continuing to be a wardrobe staple for Spring/Summer 2010, the “boyfriend” blazer is a simple way to look chic whether on a fresh Spring day or mild a Summer’s night. A slightly oversized jacket or blazer, sleeves rolled up, is the pinnacle of relaxed cool.

But wait! Before hitting the stores, remember: trends come and go, but style remains. When tempted to embrace a trend, first ask yourself if it’s consistent with your body type, personal style, age and of course, the rest of your wardrobe.


2010 Fashion Forecast


 Happy New Year!

In fashion, 2010 brings a host of possibilities. This year, more people will be putting their own spin on trends rather than duplicating what’s in the magazines and on the runways. “2010 is all about personal style,” said Gregg Andrews, fashion director for Nordstrom. “It’s hard to put your finger on a single trend because there are so many influences happening. The new year is about a melding of styles and inspiration. It’s not about replicating. It’s about new interpretations.”

Translation: Personalize the trends.

You can do this simply by adding color or playing with textures, while paying attention to what’s “in” fashion.

So, let’s recap 2009: Puffy jackets with pencil skirts; blousy tunics with skinny jeans, motorcycle jackets, embellished leather, aggressive-looking shoes and almost anything studded, grommetted or sequined.

As we begin a new year, skirts are moving away from pencil to volume; khakis are the new jeans; and the aggressiveness of fall is being replaced with softer textures, such as chiffon, georgette and lightweight cottons. And simplicity is in.  “We’ve been seeing this shift to clean lines and simplicity because consumers want to invest in something that will last and is a staple,” said Jamie Thomas, markets editor for Stylesight, an online fashion forecasting firm. “We’re seeing the return of the chino and the cargo pant, instead of the emphasis on denim. I don’t think people are tired of denim, but simplicity is back and neutrals are more versatile for the office or elsewhere.”

 We will continue to mix high-end and low-priced items as well. Regardless of price, women look for items that make them look new and unique.


This will be the year of turquoise, according to the Pantone Color Institute. The blue-green hue is considered to evoke calm and compassion, but its warm and cool shades mix well with all skin tones.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says most people respond positively to turquoise, and it has a universally flattering appeal for men and women.

“We look at the psychology of the color,” Eiseman said. “This year specifically, we were very certain that turquoise was a strong trend and narrowed it down to the best, most representative color for both fashion and home.” Andrews agreed, saying that a true turquoise or more subdued teal is a fresh complement for spring. He suggests incorporating a teal handbag into a spring wardrobe if you’re shy about wearing bold colors. “Most women don’t have a teal handbag,” he said. “Teal works great with neutrals, and it opens the door to play with color. The bag can be your accent.”


The spring runways are flowing with light, airy fabrics from designers such as Roberto Cavalli and Peter Som. Even at Kohl’s, designer Vera Wang is offering softer, but not overly delicate, looks in her Simply Vera Vera Wang collection. Details include pleats, tucks and beads to sheer layers in tulle, chiffon and mesh. Wang calls it a season of the “tress” — a cross between a dress and a tunic, and it epitomizes the lightness of spring.


In the past few years, belts have become a must-have accessory. The new year continues the trend, but belts will be simpler and less embellished. You can cinch the waist with a belt or by tucking a blouse into a trouser. But you need to embrace that the waist is going to be a focal point for fashion this spring.


From fuller skirts to more relaxed trousers, the new year also brings more volume at the bottom. But don’t fret over looking larger than you are. Defining the waist helps create a more tailored silhouette.

Ornate necks

Belts were the “jewelry” for the outfit in 2009. But now, it’s about adorning the neck. Bib necklaces that layer and drape, like a bib, are appearing in collections everywhere. 

Stay tuned next week for 2010 Spring/Summer key looks!




(Excerpts from Houston Chronicle)