Contemporary Impressionism

P rofessional image consultant and New Haven native Alicia Valentino knows closets.

More precisely, she knows what to do with what’s in them. She can transform a random jumble of button-downs and suit jackets into an immaculate, even color-coded, space. She can do this in minutes, and I know this because I witnessed it.

But closets are just the beginning. Valentino, who owns CG Image Consulting (CG stands for “Chica Guapa”), tweaks and perfects looks of many things—from companies to individuals, from helping small businesses amp up their branding to styling people hoping to score a new job or simply feel more put-together. “It’s about presenting your best image and brand all the time,” Valentino says. “Consider yourself a walking billboard.”

Sometimes human billboards get to talk, which is why she helps clients develop the perfect “elevator speech” (a concise pitch defining one’s goals or products short enough to give during an elevator ride) and hone interview skills. Valentino spent fifteen years working in human resources prior to attending the Fashion Institute of Technology and becoming an image consultant, so she knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the desk.

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That HR experience widens her offerings quite a bit further, to include recruiting, training, branding seminars and one-on-one image consulting for sales personnel. She leads sessions for schools, committees and other groups, on topics such as “From College To Corporate: How To Dress To Impress” and “Empowering Your Wardrobe With Color.” Sometimes gigs can get a little peculiar, including work she did for a sorority that wanted to improve its on-campus image.

As far as consulting for individuals goes, services include personal shopping trips to benefit everyday life and styling for special occasions. Whatever the ultimate purpose, Valentino explains that she usually begins by instructing the client to pull out several “go-to” pieces from the closet, illustrating his or her personal style, something she feels is important to maintain. “I’m not trying to inflict my style on anyone,” she says.

From there, she’ll talk about body types, noting how to work with what you’ve got; short legs can be elongated by wearing heels, for instance, and broad shoulders can be tempered with wider straps. Fit is incredibly important, too, and it’s worth noting that Valentino’s husband, Enzo, runs the popular Valentino Tailors in Hamden, a personal match made in business heaven (they share customers).

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During a color analysis, Valentino drapes her client in white, then holds up color swatches to find out which ones best complement the person’s skin tone. The subject is encouraged to sit in front of a mirror and participate, noting, perhaps for the first time, that pastels wash her out, or that she looks vibrant when wearing a color she’d never considered, like a bright red.

Valentino, who walks a respectable line between friendly and businesslike—excellent qualities in an individual who’s going through your old sweaters—won’t make you get rid of things you really want to keep. Instead she’ll suggest accessorizing with jewelry or a scarf in your most flattering hues, meaning your wardrobe mainstays can stay put if you like.

She also provides clients with a bit of swag—a folder of helpful fashion dos and don’ts, as well as some tools of the trade including lint brush and nail file—and follows up appointments with a personalized Pinterest board featuring recommended styles based on what she’s learned.

While Valentino’s services may seem to focus on the external, improving presentation catalyzes more meaningful changes in people—like higher confidence, which leads to better results in every aspect of life. That’s the real point, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to look good while you’re at it.

CG Image Consulting
(646) 296-3480 | [email protected]

Written and photographed byCara McDonough.

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Cara McDonough has been a journalist for over ten years. She writes regularly about family, parenting, religion and other issues for The Huffington Post and chronicles daily life on her personal blog. She lives in New Haven with her husband, two children and two dogs.

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