“We are shifting gears — out of masks and sweats and back to the office,” says Emily Katz, an image consultant whose work and insights have been featured in a host of publications including the Wall Street Journal and InStyle magazine.
Katz is lending her incisive expertise, expertise that garnered one of Elle magazine’s elite “Beauty Genius Awards,” to men and women emerging into the new hybrid work environment. While many are CEOs, she helps others dress for the job they want rather than the job they have.
A veteran of the film industry as a makeup department head for over 25 years, Katz was also a haute couture fashion model. These days she is a fine-art watercolorist who says her background informs her work as an image consultant.
[Editor’s Note: The lead photo of the article is Opera Singer Isabel Leonard.]
California Business Journal asked Katz a range of questions about her work.
CBJ: Everyone is asking how to look their best online in teleconferences — what do you advise?
EK: When working in film, we take photographs to ensure the image team is satisfied with hair, makeup, and wardrobe. Anyone can do this for him or herself. It’s easy! Stand in front of the background you will use on video, and take selfies to see how you will present yourself on camera. Pay special attention to your background to ensure your audience will be looking at you and not your busy wallpaper or artwork. If you are lit from the back, your face will be in shadow and if you don’t have enough light from the front, you will see unappealing facial shadows. Being aware of the best location of your lighting can make a significant difference in how you appear on camera.
Pay attention to your wardrobe. Do you blend into the background? Are you wearing colors that look good on you? Some colors can make you look washed out, or blend into your skin tone. Did you shave, is your hair in place? A simple selfie will reveal the truth. I just had a client say, “I need to learn to do makeup for Zoom! She called it “Zoom Face.” I recommend lipstick, mascara, and eyeliner to create emphasis. To diminish reflective shine both men and women both should keep blotting papers, which are available at drug stores. Tissue paper is not a substitute. If you need more coverage, use powder — it’s fine for both men and women.
CBJ: Some people think you need to be a celebrity to have a personal stylist or make-up artist, so who are your clients?
EK: My clients are men and women who want to learn how to use their image to enhance their success. They are military officers who have transitioned to the private sector after wearing uniforms for 20 years; mothers returning to work, or new executives or artists getting ready for their big opening or media blitz. When a client says, “This is exactly what I hoped for,” that makes my day. Celebrities recognize the value of an image consultant; I make it accessible. And I go one step further with my clients, I teach them to develop awareness of what works for them.
I work with people to create a system of pieces that work well together and align with their preference, so they dress in a way that feels genuine to them. I want to help people shine because when they feel good, they are more confident. I love the quote by Regina Brett, the columnist and inspirational speaker: “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up.”emily-katz
CBJ: What motivates you to do this work?
EK: I get to know my clients because I am passionate about helping clients find their personal style. Style isn’t generic, it’s individual like a fingerprint. Personal style is more than a matter of taste, it’s knowing goals, aspirations and knowing what creates impact. I help my clients create their image from the inside out. Many think an expensive brand is what they need — but far from it! The operative is how YOU wear IT. Color, fit, and balance are key. Many people have given me terrific information and inspiration. I want to share that.
CBJ: What are the challenges you face when helping someone develop a personal style?
EK: The most common challenge is having someone trust that I am listening to them and we agree on the direction of our work together. Sometimes they are concerned they won’t feel like themselves. I help them confidently embrace the change. Another challenge is creating a look that isn’t a carryover from times past. Our work together is about creating a look that is modern and current, not trendy. For example, we talk about hairstyle: “Is it up to date and does it match your lifestyle?” If you have a mullet, it is time for a new look. What about sideburns, mustache, or beard? Have you updated your makeup? Makeup should look fresh and polished and not overwhelm. Clothing challenges include being stuck on old favorite styles that are long past their time. If they can’t be updated with tailoring, they need to be retired. Another challenge is helping clients understand the importance of maintaining the condition of their clothes.
CBJ: What are some things we can all do to make ourselves more presentable and confident?
EK: Focus on fit, fit and good fit. Wear clothes that flatter you and do not hide you. Proper fit of clothes, regardless of a person’s shape or size, is essential. Some old favorites can be refreshed by tailoring, for example, removing shoulder pads from women’s jackets and refitting the shoulders. Also, check for spots, loose buttons, worn belts, frayed cuffs, worn heels, or scuffed toes — each of these draw attention to the wrong image. Good posture and deep breathing create a confident demeanor. Breathing can also calm you if you’re tense.
CBJ: What has influenced your image consulting?
EK: Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” demonstrated that how we look and dress affects peoples’ impressions. Her little black dress inspired decades of style. Other films showed me how certain looks define how characters are perceived. My experience as a makeup artist in film and television informs my work, as does my background as a fine artist. I know what looks great in life and on camera without looking theatrical.
I use the work of Dr. Amy Cuddy a social psychologist, author and Harvard Business School lecturer who identified what she calls power posing: physical stances that enhance confidence and personal power for presentations. David Allen, whose best seller “Getting Things Done” provided me with a solid platform for time and project management. I love supporting clients in achieving this and “getting” how great they can look. That is my raison d’être, my “Why” of why I do this.
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