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Image Consultants Get a Makeover

The Great Recession scorched many a lucrative, bubble-era vocation: Realtor, yacht broker, starchitect. Add to that list the image consultant. Tiffany (TIF) and Coach (COH) are selling bling again, yet wealthy folks are more inclined to pick it out themselves than pay Samantha von Sperling $300 an hour to help them dress for excess.

Two years ago von Sperling, a New York image consultant whose previous careers include makeup artist and actress, was teaching the nouveau riche the art of conversation, and leading executives and their spouses on six-figure shopping trips through Manhattan boutiques and department stores. Today, revenue at von Sperling's Polished Social Image Consultants has fallen by about half; clients call less often or ask for deals.