What does it take to be a true expert?
Deliberate practice. That’s the term Fortune Magazine gave to a phenomena that Malcolm Gladwell also wrote about in his best-selling book “The Outliers.” Both publications took their cue from a 1993 study made by Anders Ericsson related to expertise. Ericcson asserts that it takes ten years or 10,000 hours of practice in one’s field in order to truly be an expert. In other words, nobody is great without work.
He cites the Beatles, who performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time. By the time they returned to England, they were not only experts but unique. Bill Gates spent 10,000 hours programming a computer in high school in 1964 at the age of 13, giving him an enormous advantage over most people in that era.
So, does it takes 10,000 hours of practice to look extraordinary? No. But you want to be in the hands of an image consultant who has 10,000 hours practicing certain skills. So-called “good taste” and “instincts” are not enough to make you an expert. After the popularity of several books on color analysis, claiming (wrongly) that you just need to look at your hair and eye color to find the colors that make you look better, hoards of people set up shop as image consultants without any real training. It sounded so easy. Why not?
The problem is, those early “paint by number” systems were way off track. Even if you practiced for yours, you wouldn’t get good results. In fact, the reason the early books were so popular is because they confirmed our secret belief that we knew “instinctively” which colors suited us. All the blondes nodded when they read that baby pink was their color; the redheads did the same when they read that they looked best in rust. Wrong. Matching your superficial appearance to a group of “matching” colors is nothing more than “false harmony.” Yes, the colors match or “harmonize” with your coloring, but they also make you nearly invisible, because you blend into your garments.
Most of the color consultants in the world today still use this outdated system. It doesn’t work. Unless you like being invisible, which is probably the reason no one has questioned the validity of this outdated system. You see, we’re hardwired from caveman days to avoid standing out so that the wild animals won’t get us. Our “instincts” bought into the system, but it’s time we noticed that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!
Serious experts don’t fall for fluffy paint by number systems. Image is serious business, and it requires serious experts, because the way you look and dress announces the outcome other people can expect from you.
Here is what it takes to be an expert image consultant, not including the many years or hours of experience:
• Expertise in color, including a strong background in art
• Expertise in color psychology
• A solid background in fashion (fashion model, fashion coordinator, buyer for a large department store)
• A sense of style
• Solid knowledge about makeup and makeup application
• Strength in the use of “line” in clothing, particularly for camouflage purposes with various body types
• Some background in psychology to enhance “interpersonal skills” when dealing with clients
• Good communication skills, enabling you to share your knowledge with others