Celebrity stylist Nicole Chavez has a pretty impressive roster of Hollywood clients including Kristen Bell, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Katherine Heigl and Rachel Bilson, along with being named one of the Hollywood Reporter’s Most Powerful Stylists in 2012. And in fact, Chavez co-designs the ShoeMint footwear collection with Bilson, whom she met when she worked in the wardrobe department of Rachel’s then hit show, The O.C. They have been fast friends ever since, even “sharing a brain” as Nicole noted below. While chatting at the LOFT pop-up party in Los Angeles (which is on Robertson and will be open through May), she revealed to me her best styling tips, what you can do at home to look like you work with a stylist and what every woman needs in her closet-now!
RCR: Why was it important to be a part of this great event at the LOFT?
NC: It’s a brand that I really love. It’s a very fun, feminine and approachable lifestyle brand. They do everything from petites to maternity to tall to swim. To me, it’s like a one-stop shop. I also love that brand is into their customers coming in and being styled by the stores’ associates and creating their own style because I really believe that style should be an extension of a person’s personality and one should find it on their own, not by following trends necessarily.
RCR: What is your styling technique with your clients? How hands on are you?
NC: Each one of my clients has their own unique style and I definitely like to keep that way. I am lucky in that I have worked with them for many, many years so we have a great synergy and trust together. They know when they come in for a fitting, there is a rack picked out just for them. It’s really about us making sure we have the right look for the right event. It’s very easy at this point. I’m very lucky in that way.
RCR: And you have some rather stylish clients.
NC: I do. The girls I work with are all really amazing women. They are extremely talented and loving and sweet and I just learn so much from them everyday. I am very inspired by all of them.
RCR: I can see that all of the creative forces must mesh well.
NC: Yes. Like with Rachel (Bilson) we get to bounce ideas off one another because we design ShoeMint together. We are very yin-yang. we share the same brain. So it’s just really fun to get to do that everyday-to work with your friends and be creative.
RCR: How would you describe your personal style?
NC: I am into high-low dresses and skirts, and I do like a little bit more glam and I tend to dress pretty feminine rather than tomboy. I think my style is pretty and glamorous, but not cookie cutter. I like to mix it up a bit. I like their to be a standout piece, something unexpected. And I say when I am styling my clients,”Look to the unexpected choice.” Mix it up a bit and try to make your look your own.
RCR: And for the everyday woman at home who can’t afford a fashion stylist, what advice would you give them to find her personal style?
NC: I think its great to use visuals as tools to streamline your thoughts. Because it can be overwhelming to look at fashion and try to determine your style. It’s important to think about your body type and be really aware of what looks good on you. And do tear sheets from magazines. I have binders and binders of tear sheets. Whatever look I like in a magazine, I rip out and save. I dissect why I like it and try to incorporate it into my wardrobe. And I don’t necessarily go out and buy that piece. I can go into my closet and seek out ways to recreate that look with pieces I already have. And that is a good place to start because you will notice the holes in your closet and you can write down the things you need before you go shopping so you don’t pull random stuff. Be specific about what you need.
RCR: I always try to relay to my readers not to be afraid to take fashion risks. How do you feel about that?
NC: I agree 100%. I think it’s important to have your own sense of style and own it. And if you feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing, then others will respond to that. And that is something that I love about Rachel (Bilson). She was my first client and she has never been afraid to take a risk. And she owns her risks and they pay off. And her risks are all about her believing in what she is wearing.
RCR: And that’s what puts someone on the best dressed list. It’s that confidence.
NC: Absolutely! I don’t believe in style rules. Wear what you want and own it.
RCR: What are the three things every woman should have in her closet right now?
NC: She should have something striped because it’s a statement all on its own, whether it be a striped shirt paired with something basic, or a striped bag. A bold floral for spring, something punchy and not too girly. I am also really into motorcycle jackets in every shape, style and color. They are so easy to dress up and down and take from day to night. A really versatile piece.
RCR: What is the best styling tip that you have learned in your career?
NC: To take a photo of yourself dressed up before hitting a red carpet event or being photographed. Even if its a simple as going to your high school reunion and you are wearing a black shirt and a weird bra and the picture taken before you go will reveal if things are being shown that you don’t want to see. Always take a picture before leaving the house so you can see what everyone else sees. Your own eye can be deceiving!
RCR: Great tip! Thanks so much, Nicole!
NC: Thank you! And thanks for the chat!