Image Consultant and Truman Capote


Image consultants can help writers improve their look. Truman Capote acted as his own image consultant, but he made numerous mistakes. A professional image consultant could have helped him achieve even greater success.


Truman Capote was born in 1924 in New Orleans. The salient facts of his early life are as follows: His mother was only 17 when he was born; her husband divorced her when the boy was four; his mother locked him in a room; he felt lonely and screamed to be let free; his mother remarried and the boy’s new father was convicted of embezzlement.

The case can be made that Capote experienced a traumatic childhood. As such, he was predisposed to be artistic, according to the work of Frank Sulloway.


In his youth he was rather unconcerned about his appearance. He wore baggy pants and wrinkled polo shirts. These were in patterns that were hard to look at: big stripes and odd colors.

When he began publishing, at 23, he wore sweaters and shirts with the collar out, to look good for publicity photos (for example for the book Other Voices, Other Rooms). At the age of 35 he can be seen ice skating in Rockefeller Center in a snappy outfit, with a nice pair of trousers and a scarf. He is wearing a beret and a wool sweater.

About the time he published In Cold Blood, he began wearing suits and bow ties. Then he began wearing a hat with a brim. At fifty-three he would wear a big straw hat and ask people if they liked it. He was proud of it.

Capote was clearly his own image consultant. He chose to wear more fashionable clothes when he achieved some success. During the developmental and mastery phases of his career (which we have written about elsewhere) he began wearing better trousers and shirts. But he made numerous mistakes. People don’t trust men in bow ties. A writer needs to be trusted. Also his hats, which are his signature look, did little to flatter his face.


The immediate effect of working with an image consultant is to improve your look. Truman Capote tried to improve his look himself, and he succeeded to some extent. But people made fun of him for the hat. And subconsciously the bow ties did not help his case.

An image consultant could have helped him select clothes that would have flattered his figure (which was very thin) and his face (which was very round). The hats he selected were not the best for this purpose. We help people look good and project a more powerful image. We are especially useful for artists in the developmental and mastery phases of their career. This means we could have helped Capote when he was beginning to publish and after he had achieved fame with In Cold Blood.

If you are a writer and wish to improve your look, take a lesson from the life of Truman Capote. While there are some things that you can accomplish yourself, it always helps to have professional advice. Had Mr. Capote used an image consultant his work might be even more widely read today.

Copyright (c) 2010 William Cane

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