What is Your Image?

What is Your Image?

Did you know there is such a thing as a celebrity stylist? This is someone who advises a famous person about fashion trends, clothing styles, colors and make-up.  

Essentially the stylist helps the celebrity create his or her personal “look.” This individual may be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to work with one celebrity, helping him or her make choices about what to wear, how to style hair, and overall appearance. Movie stars, singers, and politicians may make their own choices about what to wear when at home and out of the public eye, but it is rare for a celebrity to appear in public without having had a number of people assist in the creation of his or her image. Whether being on a talk-show like Leno or Letterman, or making a speech at a political rally, much thought always goes into what the celebrity wears and how a celebrity looks.

It is a thought for performers to firmly keep in their minds. Famous people do not look the way they look by accident. They do not wear the things they wear because those things just happened to be in the closet.

The pop star, Rihanna, has been in the news recently for her involvement in a new television show that will be entirely built around the idea of style. Part of the publicity for the show has involved stories about how stylists transformed Rihanna from just a cute girl with talent, to being a major force in the entertainment industry. A common view is that her style and image have as much, or more, to do with her success than does her ability to sing and dance.

Although we too are entertainers, most of us are not at a level were we can afford to hire someone to help us decide how to dress and comb our hair. This fact does not mean we should ignore the matter of image.  Whatever our bank account may or may not be, we cannot afford to neglect having an intentional “look” and appearance.

If the most successful people in the entertainment industry believe that giving careful attention to their appearance is vital to their careers, those of us who are still seeking success in the entertainment industry must pay attention to the same thing.  The look and image we have as individuals is crucial.

To state the matter simply, if we look like the “guy or gal from next door,” it will be hard for people to view us as someone who should be hired for an important show. You may have heard the adage that “an expert” is someone who comes from one hundred miles or more away. You may have personally experienced a situation where, rather than hiring you, a local group hired someone from another state to come in and do a show. This person may not have been the quality of performer that you are. Nevertheless, this other person was paid good money to travel to your area.

Why are local performers often overlooked by local venues?  Why are those from far away considered to be experts, and those who are next door only viewed as clever neighbors? Could it be that local people are too familiar and seen too often in common circumstance? When an individual is viewed as “just another person like us,” it may be hard for that person to be taken seriously.

I am not suggesting that, on the local level, we refuse to act normal. People often see me around town in blue jeans, t-shirt, and ball cap. We may have to live with the fact that people will always want to bring someone in from a distance, to give themselves the feeling that this person is extra special. However, we can find simple ways to set ourselves apart and give ourselves an edge by way of image.

The first big issue we must face in this matter is that, if we want to be taken seriously as entertainers, we must no longer choose to look like everyone else. (This is a general rule. There will be exceptions.)

Most people, for most of their lives, are concerned about fitting in with the crowd. Far more people are concerned about “being in style” than they are about “setting the style.” If everyone else in their peer group is wearing skinny jeans, they want to wear them too.  If everyone else in their peer group has a lip ring, they want to have one too. For the older generation, if all the other guys are shaving their heads to compensate for thinning hair, a man will be comfortable doing the same thing. If the trend is for women to wear jeans and sweaters, that is what a woman wants to wear.

For some, actually many, this can be a serious challenge. It is unsettling, sometimes frightening, to stand out in a crowd. From the time we have been young we have been worried about being viewed as “different” or “odd.” However, do we, as entertainers, want to be noticed or not noticed? Do we want to be memorable or forgettable?  There is an old adage that says, even a turtle will never get ahead unless he sticks his neck out. Those who blend in with their surroundings, who stay in the center of the group, will not be the object of special attention.

This morning Mary and I did school shows in a small town in Alabama.  In spite of the fact the town was small, the school was quite large. We performed for about 1,000 students. Before our first show started, it was necessary for me to step out in front of the backdrop to check a prop. As I did so, I heard a young lady in the front row lean over to a person next to her and say, “Wow, he looks like a magician!”

I have no idea what she assumed a magician should look like, but she instantly recognized that there was something different about me. I did not look like the men teachers seen daily in that school, nor did I look like men she would normally see in the community.  I looked like a performer.

I will admit that I was pleased with the young lady’s comment. It meant to me that I am at least making progress toward the achievement of personal goal. Since I am a magician, I want to be viewed as, and remembered as, a magician.

The second issue we must face is the matter of making ourselves distinct without being ridiculous. 

Anyone can be different. A man who chooses to walk around with a fried egg on his head is unusual and memorable. However, he is also a person most people will want to avoid. Anyone can do something weird or crazy. The necessity is to be cleverly and appealing different.

This is why celebrities have high paid stylists. They want a hairstyle that will be unusual, yet attractive. They want clothes that make them standout, but they also want the public to like what it sees.

This brings us back to reality that most of us, as average or progressing entertainers, cannot afford to have stylists.  What do we do?

Consider the following…

    1. Hair.  Do something different.

Elvis did it. Rod Stewart Does it. Audrey Hepburn did it. The Beatles did it. Katy Perry does it. Vin Diesel does it. Sting does it. Miley Cyrus does it. Countless other stars have done it. They have chosen different and distinct hairstyles. Whether you like these celebrities or not, whether you approve of their lifestyles or not, the fact that their hair is part of their identity (and often their notoriety) cannot be avoided.

Do some experimenting to find a style that is not common for people at your age and stage in life. At the same time, choose a style that is complimentary to you. During the process of making a change with your hair, you may may some mistakes along the way (even famous celebrities have done so), but stay deliberate about looking at least a bit different than others do.

If your hair color is dull or non-distinct, consider dyeing it. Consider how many well known entertainers have black, blond, or red hair. I am not suggesting that these are the only colors to use. The point is, they use their hair to make a striking appearance.

This is not about vanity. It is not about trying to look young. It is about being someone who is easily recognized. Things that are normal are typically taken for granted. Things that are unusual are found to be interesting. Those who work as entertainers want to be interesting.

  1. Clothes. Wear solid primary colors.

People in the typical workforce, with normal community lives, tend to wear nondescript garments. With practicality and conformity in mind, they prefer pastels, plaids, and clothes with simple patterns. They select shaded colors over vivid colors. The sum and total of their goal relating to appearance is to look nice and fit in with those around them.

Because of this, choosing to wear a solid color that is not diminished by a pattern, will bring distinction. Wearing strong solid colors is an easy way to be different.

When arriving for a show, but needing to load in before putting on a costume, I typically wear black. I can count on being one of the only men there, maybe the only man, who will be in black.  Beyond that, there are those who say wearing the color black suggests confidence and strength.

Purple is an impressive color. It is a color that many people especially like. At the same time, it is a color that many people, because of self-consciousness, are reluctant to wear. They know that if they wear it they will be noticed. Being noticed is not what they want. Therefore, in our society there is already a tendency to associate purple with entertainment. (An exception that seems to prove this concept is the wearing of purple t-shirts or sweatshirts to promote favorite sports teams. This is a way of standing out while simultaneously fitting in with a desired group.)   A purple shirt, coat, or dress and definitely be a “wow.”

Royal blue and cherry red are distinctive colors that can be used to make one memorable. The proverbial “bottom line” in this is, if we dress like everyone else, we are likely to be viewed like everyone else. Dressing differently may make us feel weird because we are not like everyone else, but is it not our goal to stand out from the crowd? As long primary colors actually look good on us (in light of our complexion, age, and other factors), it can serve us well to wear them.

  1. Jewelry. A little can do a lot.

For a man, a simple necklace or extra ring, can be a easy and subtle way to make yourself a bit different from most other men. (Depending on your locality and culture.) For women, unusual earrings or a shiny bracelet may add extra sparkle to your appearance.

Jewelry, like wearing solid colors, can be a statement about confidence. This may seem silly, but it is an observation about human nature with which many would agree.  When we wear something that is deliberately different from what most others wear, even if the difference is slight, we convey a sense of self-assurance. The suggestion is made that we are leaders rather than followers.


Celebrity stylists exist because crafting an image for those who are in show business is not an easy thing to do, yet it is a necessary thing to do. Those who entertain, those who want to be noticed and remembered in order to be hired to do shows, must take chances with style. With thoughtfulness and boldness they must venture into unique territory. Instead worry about being in style, there is the need to have one’s own style, a style that does not get lost in popular culture yet meshes with it.


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