Before I met Michelle Gallant, I had an avoidant approach to the world of fashion. Like many of you, the part of my brain that houses thoughts about my physical self-image was rarely, if ever, given a chance to shine. If I am being honest, I was somewhat scared of what I would find there, so I thought it best not to think about it much. But like any psychologist worth his or her salt will tell you, these thoughts we shove at the back of our minds and refuse to pay direct attention to will show themselves in damaging ways, or will slyly affect other aspects of our daily lives. I am fairly sure I was stuck in this vicious cycle of never knowing how to look the way I wanted to look, and subsequently hiding this anxiety behind a thick facade of “I Don’t Care” so that I just wouldn’t have to deal with it. I am incredibly happy to say that after meeting Michelle, I was able to learn how to take charge of this overlooked situation. She helped me bring those backseat drivers to the front so I had to deal with them, and this has positively affected my self-image and confidence in more ways than I can count.
I had met Michelle before many times and had always found her to be incredibly glamorous to the point that I was a little intimidated by her. Who among us has had the energy and motivation to look great every day after the emotional hell that the pandemic has put us through? For me, it’s a good day if I can put a second of thought into coordinating my shoes with my outfit. But Michelle never slips up and you will always wonder where she gets her inspiration from…I have a pretty strong feeling that her years of experience as an image consultant are overshadowed by her personal sense of style. After I decided to consult Michelle regarding my fashion requirements, I came to realize that her level of expertise and a flawless eye for matching a person to the colours, fits and designs that work for their skin tone and body shape were unmatched and very learnable, she does break it down to a science. As she takes you through the process of how she was able to find your wow colours, even if you don’t quite become a colour expert, you will definitely learn a lot about how to shop for yourself.
The good thing is, she is happy to share this wisdom with amateurs like me and she has a passion for helping us all look and feel our best. Now more than ever, she stresses the importance of putting in the little bit of effort that can shine life and colour back into your life. The apprehension I had initially felt when I booked a session with Michelle melted away within the first couple of minutes I spent talking to her. She could sense that I was stepping out of my comfort zone and she welcomed me along every step of the process. I had this concept in my head that women in fashion may look down on those of us who don’t know the first thing about it, but this was proven wrong almost immediately. She is extremely personable and surprisingly funny. Image consulting is not like other branches of fashion, and instead of high fashion and runway-ready looks, the main focus is on keeping you comfortable and working with your individual strengths to ensure you look great in every area of your daily life.
I was requested to wear simple clothes and no makeup to our meeting. I felt self-conscious and out of place in the brightly lit space that spoke of fashion and glamour. Michelle warmly greeted me and asked me what my goals were. I told her I needed guidance on my colour palette and everyday dressing ideas that would work for me without requiring too much time and effort. Michelle started by introducing me to the seasonal colour palettes in natural light. She brought my attention toward the difference certain colours can make to the brightness of my face and skin tone. She had a very good idea of what my “wow” colours would be (as we had previously met each other), and she explained to me how I happen to be part of a “flow” palette which is in between fall and winter.
These colours that compliment my complexion so well make me wish I had met her a long time ago and requested this colour analysis from Michelle. I had always picked clothes off the rack based on how they looked on the rack without considering how they would look on me. I had avoided certain colours thinking that they would make me look drab and dull, or sometimes, I had purposefully picked colours to blend into the wall because being invisible seemed easier than putting so much effort into dressing up every day. Michelle made me understand that everything about me is a necessary part of the equation, so the clothes I pick must work for my body shape, the tone of my skin as well as its warmth or coolness. She told me that I flow between the seasons, instead of fitting into just warm or cool seasonal tones.
Another important aspect was the way she taught me about the shades and colours of makeup (lipsticks and eye shadows) and jewellery I should choose. I had always stayed away from bright silver jewellery but under Michelle’s guidance, I came to see that it works beautifully with my skin tone. When she set it against my neck, it seemed to almost bring out some unknown radiance. This was just one instance of Michelle teaching me how to appreciate the little things that make me who I am and working with instead of against the way I am. This part always makes me smile…I needed to see that the way I already am is beautiful.
Michelle placed swatches of fabric on my neckline to see what brings out my skin’s inherent brightness. I came to realize that some of the colours I had been wearing in the past were not complimenting my skin and were creating unflattering and totally unavoidable shadows.
The next surprise I got during my session was that she introduced me to neutrals such as espresso brown and light grey. My preconception of these colours was that they are lifeless and will make me look lifeless as well, but much like the silver jewellery, these colours made me look fresh and radiant as well. She told me to keep these colours in mind for selecting my professional clothing wardrobe and when it comes to layering everyday clothes. During every part of the process, I appreciated the simple but effective ways in which everything was explained to me.
The nature of my colour palette was defined as “deep”. This, accompanied by a wallet size booklet of my colour swatches, makes it easy for me to slowly upgrade my personal wardrobe. Although all of this was new to me, I was happy to have someone like Michelle guiding me along.
I gladly scheduled a follow-up appointment with Michelle, where all the theoretical parts of my image consultation process were put into practice. After some quick visual measurements she had taken on my first visit, Michelle had taken it upon herself to introduce a whole new way of dressing for me! This consisted of beautiful espresso brown soft leather pants and vest with a patterned grey jacket. Never in my life would I have thought to pair these two colours together but that outfit came together gloriously. She considered my personality, my personal preferences, and drew from her experience to transform me into the most fabulous version of me. There was no talk of what I should change about myself, but simply to work with what I have because I have all the tools I need to feel my best everyday.
At the end of my session, which felt too short since I had enjoyed it so much, Michelle gave me a booklet consisting of fabric swatches of thirty-eight colours. This was an easy and visual way to look for the right colours in clothing for myself.
My appointments with Michelle improved my self-image in a major way. I learned that looking put together does not have to be a labour-intensive process. There are many little steps to the process but these can easily be kept in mind when buying clothes and deciding on outfits. Quite frankly, even if it does require a bit of work, I’ve come to see the process as fun and the effect it has on my self-esteem and the way my image reflects my values makes it absolutely worth the time and effort.
Michelle made me feel thankful I took this step to work toward my growth. When you have always viewed fashion from the sidelines, having been a part of the audience and rarely a participant, it can seem like this monolith that is tough to scale and it definitely seems impossibly inaccessible. While many on the inside choose to avoid the exclusive world of vogue, it’s great to know that there are some gems like Michelle who will open your eyes to a new universe of possibilities and challenge many of the misconceptions you may have about your own potential.