What Is Evidence-Based Image Consulting?

Let’s be clear about the most important reason for selecting one consultant over another for wardrobe and style advice: it’s critical to use a consultant whose work is based on evidence about what really works to make you more effective. Why settle for anything less?

at the Met for a makeover with client

At the Met. Michael Christian (left) with client. (photo Paulina Glozman)

At Manhattan Makeovers, our three decades of research has uncovered all the vital statistics and data to help you choose the best jackets, suits, shirts, footwear, and accessories. In addition, we have done fieldwork on which hairstyles are most useful for bankers, lawyers, accountants, scientists, and artists. In each instance, the colors that are most effective are what you want to be wearing, the shoes that test well are those you want to own, and the hairstyles that will help you get ahead in your field are the ones you want to wear.

It may be fun to page through the latest issue of Cosmo or GQ, but doing so will not help you succeed as a lawyer, banker, or doctor. However, when you absorb the fruits of our research, you will be well on your way to a new you. You’ll have an advantage over others in your field, and you’ll immediately see the difference that evidence-based advice can provide for you.

By evidence-based research, we mean that our advice is calculated to make you more successful based on numerous tests, surveys, and fieldwork that we have conducted. Yes, we understand that you want to look fashionable; but even more vital for your success on the job is whether your overall appearance causes others to view you are competent, trustworthy, and authoritative. Only certain colors, shoe styles, and accessories will have this desired effect. Wear the wrong colors and you are causing trouble for yourself every day. Change to the proven colors, the effective hairstyles, and the tested footwear, and your life will be so much easier and your relations with clients and customers so much smoother.

We have spent years doing this research so that you can benefit from it during a consultation and makeover with us. By the way, the term makeover is not something men should be afraid of since it applies equally to men and women. In fact, many of the most successful men in all fields, from politics to business, use image consultants and makeovers to increase their effectiveness. From presidents to rock stars, from Hollywood directors to famous authors, image consultations are the way to benefit from tested advice and become more successful in your chosen field.

The photo above illustrates the first part of your makeovers experience, meeting with us for your initial conference, color analysis, and review of our customized look book, produced for you based on your height, weight, hair color, and profession. We’ll sit down with you over coffee or tea while we go over the material, and then we’ll show you a few works of art that illustrate the principles and concepts we’ll share. Then it’s off to the salon for your haircut and styling. Next we’ll shop with you in Manhattan. And each step of the way, we’re explaining more about the fruits of our research so that you grow and develop in your understanding of how to improve your effectiveness at work and in social situations.

Is the consultation also fun? Yes, of course it is! But more than anything else it will change the way you are perceived by others, and it will make you so much more effective at what you do when interacting with other people.

Rationale for Using an Image Consultant

A rationale is a set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which, by the way, is one of my favorite dictionaries. But it’s surprising how few professional men and women have a rationale for using an image consultant. Sometimes they have a hunch that they need a new look. Other times they have a new job that they’re applying for, or they might have been promoted, and they want to look right. But all these nenulous ideas are absolutely meaningless since they fail to come to grips with the most important reason for using an image consultant like Manhattan Makeovers. In a word, the best reason to use an image consultant from Manhattan Makeovers is that we provide evidence-based advice.

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick

An evidence-based consultant provides recommendations that are specific to your profession, and these recommendations aren’t taken out of a hat, or out of thin air; instead, they are based on research about what actually works for professionals like you. Manhattan Makeovers is one of only a handful of recognized consultants that bases its recommendations on this kind of empirical research.

In the grand scheme of things, this should be of paramount importance to you. The work you hire an image consultant to do should reflect the research that they have amassed over a number of years or decades. They should be able to tell you why they are recommending dark pumps, a skirt suit, and a pastel colored blouse, for example. They should be able to tell you why they are recommending black footwear as opposed to beige. They should be able to give you evidence that their hairstyle suggestions will make you more effective at work. Unless they can do all these things, and back up their advice with reasons based on research, you’re wasting your time and money. At Manhattan Makeovers we have been researching the most effective hairstyles, footwear, and garment fabrics and colors for professionals for more than three decades.

If you are looking for advice on how to be a more effective banker, attorney, physician, accountant, or artist, then you deserve evidence-based advice. You deserve the best. And that’s why Manhattan Makeovers is here.


Patterns Can Help Or Hurt Your Image

Many professionals like to wear patterns in their shirts, suits, and accessories. Women often are attracted to dresses with patterns. But when these people wear patterns they are communicating, through the design, to everyone who sees them. The message that is contained in a pattern is very clearly on display, but almost none of our clients knows the meaning of that message. Most consumers, I would say more than 99.9 percent of them, have no idea of the meaning of the patterns. Yet their clothes still broadcast this message loud and clear to the subconscious of everyone who sees them.

Wouldn’t you like to know whether the message that you’re sending is positive or negative?

Patterns can help or hurt you depending on the meaning of the pattern. Unfortunately, no one learns about the meanings of patterns in school, and there are almost no resources that you can find to decipher the meanings of the patterns in dresses, shirts, ties, and suits. However, the good news is that Manhattan Makeovers has been researching the meaning of patterns for more than two decades, and we have worked with sociologists and psychologists, as well as cultural anthropologists, to decipher the meaning of the patterns in clothes.

wheel dress

Look at this image of a dress containing a pattern in the form of wheels. Whether or not you find it attractive, do you have any idea of the significance of this pattern? Many women would buy a dress like this, and there are some famous designers who also make dresses with this type of wheel pattern. These dresses often are quite expensive, and they seem to promise a glamourous aura to the women who purchase them.

Almost none of the women who wear this dress, however, will realize that they are displaying an image from the Middle Ages known as the crocodile tube. This ancient device was utilized to torture victims, and it often killed them. The victim would be fed into the crocodile tube, which consisted of sharp spikes, and you can see the remnants of those spikes in the inner circumference of the wheel patterns on this dress.

So what message is this dress and this pattern conveying to the people who see the wearer? To decipher this message is one of the things that Manhattan Makeovers does for clients. Cultural anthropologists have also helped us understand the subconscious message about bondage and enslavement conveyed in certain patterns in expensive necklaces and bracelets, wristwatches and rings.

When we work with you to enhance your image, we will help you avoid conveying the wrong or inappropriate message to clients, associates, and even to your dates and spouses. Certain patterns are effective, but many are going to be problematic. You may not know the message you’re sending, but we do, and we will help you send only the right message, thereby enhancing your image at work and play.

You can count on Manhattan Makeovers to help you select the best wardrobe items. The research we have conducted is second to none. Give us a call today to see how we can help you select patterns that will move you ahead in your career and your social life.

Hairstyle for young man

Women, please help us do fieldwork by sending your suggestions how this young man can improve his hairstyle and make it more attractive to women.



[Note: The client images were removed to protect our clients anonymity. Thank you to all who replied!]

By |February 1st, 2017|Wardrobe|1 Comment

How to choose a hat or fedora

Today fewer people are wearing hats than in the 1950s or 1960s. But this is actually GOOD for YOU because if you do wear a hat you will stand out from the crowd. In effect, a hat can help you develop a signature style.

What is a signature style? Just think of Tom Wolfe with his white suits, Truman Capote with his hats, or Tennessee Williams with his signature cigarette holder. Every celebrity, writer, or actor who has a signature style becomes more memorable in the public eye. By wearing a hat today, you can develop a sophisticated look that can help you boost your visibility and name recognition. And remember, hats look great in photos, too.

So how do you select a good hat?

First, you need to go to a good hat store. There, you will find a selection and a sales force that can help you.

Second, you want to look at some of your favorite writers, poets, singers, or politicians who wear hats. My favorite is William S. Burroughs, which is why I chose a fedor similar to the ones he used to wear. It’s easy to find photos of your favorite hat wearer online. Print the photos and take them to the store with you.

Try the hats in the store, so that you achieve a look that matches the photos of the person you admire.

My recommendation is to buy a hat in a good hat store, not a supermarket. Supermarket hats are cheaply made, will not last, and are not in a classic design in most cases.

Don’t be afraid to spend up to two or three hundred dollars for a good hat. Such a hat will last twenty years or more. This comes to only ten or fifteen dollars a year when you look at the lifetime of the hat.

If you need help selecting a hat, we can also suggest that you go to J.J. Hat Center in Manhattan. We have no affiliation with them, but they’re the oldest hat store in the world, and in my opinion one of the best. We can take you there and help you decide on a signature look.



The subliminal impact of men’s neckties

All you have to do is ask yourself whether you are affected by a man’s tie to realize that very few people have ever thought about this question. In fact, most men choose ties based on whim or guesswork. But the truth is that the tie contains a large association of subliminal messages which are being broadcast to other people. These subliminal messages are saying things about your competence, integrity, and intelligence. More importantly, your tie is a status symbol, and the most effective ties include 100 percent silk ties in certain specific designs and patterns, which I will discuss here.

By wearing the correct color and style of tie, a man can increase rapport and communication with other people. If you wear the wrong style tie, if you’re a salesman, for example, you are likely to alienate potential customers and sales will decrease. If you’re an accountant and have a high net worth client, wearing the wrong style of tie can cause him to trust you less, whereas wearing the appropriate tie for the wealthy and upper-class individual will tend to make him think you are on the same playing field, increasing trust and communication between you.

There are only six types of tie styles: rep, solid, paisley, polka dot, Ivy League, and knit. The rep is a striped tie and it works best with working-class and middle-class people, and is somewhat less effective with upper-class, aristocratic, and rich people.

Solid ties are relatively neglected by many men, who mistakenly feel that these plain ties are not sophisticated. In fact, the solid is a very sophisticated look and works with all types of people. It is also easy to match with any suit.

Paisley ties have big amoeba-like designs and are less formal and best used on days when you don’t have to make an important presentation or meet a new client. They are also good for the weekend and will work with all types of people.

Polka dot ties are effective with working-class, middle-class, and upper-class individuals, especially if you match the dot color to your shirt color. Smaller dots are more formal and effective than bigger ones, and huge dots should be avoided since they can make you look clownish.

Ivy League ties are like polka dot ties, except that instead of dots they have a repeating pattern in the form of the symbol of an Ivy League school. Other examples include a small figure inside another small figure, such as a square inside a small circle. These neckties work best when your client has graduated from an Ivy League school or if your client is ultra rich.

We will discuss silk knit ties in a future blog post.

Accountant Wardrobe Advice

skirt suit

Skirt suit

The majority of female accountants realize that they must dress conservatively in order to be successful, but very few of them are aware that there is research about what is successful in their profession. The fact is that this information is not available in glamour and fashion magazines or on television shows, all of which cater to the popular taste and never present information about the actual effectiveness of garments, footwear, and hairstyles.

Manhattan Makeovers was established to provide the answer to questions by female accountants (and other professionals, both male and female) about what items of wardrobe are actually effective. In order to gather this research we have conducted surveys and done real world tests on various items of clothing for men and women. We have also tested footwear and hairstyles for effectiveness in various professions, including accounting, banking, medicine, teaching, and science. Because of this database of information, we can tell you exactly what will work for you if you are an accountant and what will be ineffective.

There are certain colors, first of all, that must be worn if you are to be effective. These colors do not depend on your hair or skin color. The discredited Color Me Beautiful book and technique will not tell you which colors are most effective. We provide our clients with this key information within twenty minutes of meeting them. They then know which color jackets, suits, and skirts are most effective. They also know which color dresses and skirts to avoid.

Certain colors, we have discovered, are more effective for women who work in the financial industry. This includes accountants, bankers, and women in other financial services. Wearing the right colors conveys to clients, colleagues, and supervisors that you are intelligent, trustworthy, and competent. Yes, your wardrobe communicates much more than a sense of style. It unconsciously speaks to issues of trustworthiness and integrity. Anyone in the banking or accounting industry must convey this kind of message.


The best style for an accountant is conservative. But exactly what does this mean? Does it mean skirts or pants? Does it mean a gray suit or a black suit? Does it mean a white blouse or a pale blue blouse with polka dots? Does it mean wearing flats, pumps, or heels? Does it mean a hairstyle that is long or short or somewhere in between? And should an accountant wear makeup to work?

All these questions have been answered quite definitively by Manhattan Makeovers and its fieldwork research team. When we provide a makeover for an accountant we present her with all the results of this research so that she can instantly make the right selection from her existing wardrobe, and so that she can acquire any new items she needs to make up any wardrobe deficits that might exist.

The hairstyle of an accountant is also important, which is why we take our clients to a professional hair salon where they can get the proper cut, color, and styling for their profession. We always advise clients what has tested well for accountants, and they can then decide which hairstyle they would like to have based upon this research and their existing hair. Our colorists and stylists are the most trusted names in New York hairstyling.

The bottom line is that in order to be effective an accountant must look the part. Only research can tell you what will be effective, and only Manhattan Makeovers has that research today for the New York accountant. Our clients also travel to us from around the world and usually stay in New York for three days for their complete makeover.

Saggy Pants Law May Be Unconstitutional

According to Neil Richards, professor of law at Washington University, saggy pants laws being passed in various cities across the United States may be unconstitutional.

saggy pants

Saggy Pants

“Saggy pants laws form a hybrid case,” says Professor Richards. “They are regulating in terms of indecent exposure but seem to be directed at the expression of identity through clothing.”  He points out that the law belongs to a group of regulations that attempt to prevent people from having their feelings hurt by the dress of other people, and that these types of laws “tend to do very poorly when subject to First Amendment analysis.”

Saggy pants laws ban pants that are worn three inches below the belt, or pants that reveal too much underwear or the wearer’s skin.

To date laws have been passed or considered in eight states.

  • Wildwood, NJ. The law was passed in June 2013. It bans saggy pants on the boardwalk. The fine is $25-$100 for first-time offenders, and up to $200 for repeat offenders, who could also get 40 hours of community work. In addition the law bans being shirtless after eight pm on the boardwalk, and wearing blouses and skirts that are too revealing. It also bans walking barefoot at any time.
  • St. Louis, Missouri is voting on a similar law this month (August 2013)
  • Miami, Florida. Declared unconstitutional in September 2008. This law resulted in a 17-year-old youth being jailed for one night, and subsequently released when Palm Beach Circuit Judge Paul Moyle found the regulation unconstitutional.
  • Collinsville, Ill. Passed by city council in July 2011.
  • Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. Passed April 2013. The local NAACP’s president, Jerome Boykin, said he actually approved of the law, claiming it is not directed at blacks. “Young men who were in prison who wanted to have sex with other men would send a signal to another man with his pants below his waist,” he said.
  • Chicago schools banned the fashion. This is one area where laws have been upheld since they are aimed at enhancing the educational environment, something government is traditionally allowed to do.
  • Delcambre, Louisiana. Outlawed since June 11, 2007. See NYT, 8/30/07. “Are Your Jeans Sagging? Go Directly to Jail” by Niko Koppel.
  • Shreveport, Louisiana. Outlawed since September 15, 2007. See NYT, 8/30/07. “Are Your Jeans Sagging? Go Directly to Jail” by Niko Koppel.
  • Moultrie, Georgia. The law was called ridiculous by Anderson Cooper.
  • Ocean City, New Jersey, decided not to adopt a saggy pants law after it appeared to be susceptible to an Equal Protection challenge.
  • Bronx, NY. In July 2013 a Bronx man was issued a summons by a police officer for wearing saggy pants. Judge Ruben Franco ruled that the summons should have no force or effect since New York has no law against saggy pants.
  • Atlanta, Georgia. Considered a law as early as 2007.
  • Stratford, Connecticut. A proposed ordinance was rejected by the Town Council because they thought it might be unconstitutional. See NYT, 8/30/07. “Are Your Jeans Sagging? Go Directly to Jail” by Niko Koppel.

The law has been criticized as racist by civil libertarian groups and by black rappers and hip-hop artists. One constitutional challenge is that the law is too vague and could wind up prohibiting things it was not intended to prohibit. The American Civil Liberties Union usually challenges such laws as violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause. That clause can be used to argue that the law discriminates against blacks and does not treat them equally. The NJ chapter of the ACLU is particularly critical of the law.

The law also appears to violate the First Amendment, which has been interpreted to allow the right of self-expression. According to Professor Richards, First Amendment challenges may or may not work in various jurisdictions because the government sometimes succeeds in regulating indecent exposure. “I’d be hesitant to call all saggy pants laws categorically unconstitutional under current doctrine,” he said.

A similar law was struck down in 2008 in Florida.

“I am with the sagging movement,” says The Game, a rap artist. He offered to pay the fine of the first five people convicted under the Wildwood, New Jersey, law.

Wildwood Mayor Ernesto Troiano is in favor of the law. “I find it offensive when a guy’s butt is hanging out,” he said.

The style is believed to have originated in prison, where belts are outlawed to reduce violence and suicide. Rappers and hip-hop musicians popularized the look in music videos. Teens of both sexes have picked up the style and can be seen wearing this style today. I saw it in the Bronx this year and last year. At first I thought the young black man was unaware that his pants was falling down. Later, I learned that it was a fashion statement.

As an image consultant, I can tell you that we have never recommended this style to any of our professional clients.

Do we believe that a law should prohibit it? Certainly not. It is a form of self-expression, popular with some youths today, especially the black and disenfranchised populations. But senile old men can always use the saggy pants style as an excuse if their pants starts to fall down. “I’m in fashion,” they can argue. And who can say they’re not?

On MTV in November 2008 President Obama expressed his opinion on saggy pants laws: 'Here's my attitude. I think passing a law about people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, getting health care, dealing with the war in Iraq. Any public official who is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there . . . Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You're walking by your mother, your grandmother, and your underwear is showing . . . What's wrong with that? Come on. There are some issues that we face that you don't have to pass a law . . . but that doesn't mean folks can't have some sense and some respect for other people. And, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear. I'm one of them.'

By |August 25th, 2013|Wardrobe|0 Comments