Who doesn't love being put on the spot? I attend more than a fair share of events in Boston and, without fail, at least once a week I am approached by a guy wearing ill-fitting or completely dated clothing who, upon learning that I am a men's image consultant, will stand with peacock pride in front of me and ask "How'd I do? Do I look good?"
Sadly, the real answer is "Not really…" but who wants to make an enemy over a glass of wine and crudités? In my quest for having every man look great, ooze confidence and enjoy a higher quality of life I find myself torn with how to respond. Brushing off the question hasn't worked; they want an answer and don't stop asking. I can't lie. But when I diplomatically suggest something more flattering for them I am met with disbelief and on rare occasions even hostility. I could see receiving the look of death if I'd asked, "Did you get that suit off a 30 year old corpse? Because it's held up quite well," or "Are you holding off on altering those pants because a 12 inch growth spurt is imminent?"
Now, because I have fair understanding of the male ego, I don't even say they are doing anything wrong. Instead I focus on the positive and offer an alternative to the five foot five gentleman standing before me in a double breasted jacket from the eighties: "An Italian cut single breasted blazer would look great on you!" I say with a smile. Yet, there I suddenly find myself in a stare 'down' initiated by a man who clearly can not objectively look at himself in a mirror and thinks I'm a bitch who doesn't know what she's talking about. I wish it didn't, but it makes me angry. My purpose is to make men look their best so they're knee deep in tail and constantly attracting bigger and better business opportunities… and, looking at my clients results, I am damn good at it! How did I become the adversary?
It's not like these guys are the life of the party, being admired by the other guests or expertly working the room only to have me walk up and verbally smack them. They're generally hanging back in the corner of the room, watching people mingle and wasting their opportunity to connect with others. Clothing gives someone the most clues about you before they speak with you, including whether or not you are even worth saying hello to. Clearly these guys aren’t doing so hot in that category and the information I share with them could be their quickest way of going from outcast to approachable and from shy to confident.
So I am still on my quest for how to properly handle the out of touch, insecure male who seeks my opinion at social or business gathering. Perhaps next time as I see them about to strut their unsavory stuff before me I'll spill my drink, pretend to choke on my stuffed mushroom, or simply say "Excuse me, I have to go wash my hair." Anything is better than being vilified for helping after being asked to do so.