From KY to CA: Confessions of a Celebrity Stylist

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Photo courtesy of CatWrightStyle.com

BY CAT WRIGHT

It was almost nine years ago when I packed a U-Haul and moved from Kentucky to Los Angeles with only a car, a little bit of money that I would blow through in lightning speed, and zero job prospects. I was convinced a college degree would surely kick-start my dream career. This would be easy, right?

Le no.

I quickly learned I had no idea what I was doing in this city, nor did I have any clue as to what I truly wanted to do to pay my rent when adulting set in. It didn’t take much more than an internship to realize I had found a home in wardrobe styling, but there was still a long road of schlepping, paying my dues and falling flat on my face ahead of me. There’s definitely not a handbook on chasing your dream in fashion, because everyone’s road is different, but these are some of the valuable lessons I’ve picked up on my ride through Hollywood.

1. YouTube is better than any textbook

Yep. I haven’t a clue as to how to upload a video to the site, but I might not have made it past Day One without it. While my first job as a real-life paid stylist would have been scary enough, it was right in the middle of one of Hollywood’s greatest tragedies – the death of Michael Jackson – and I was dressing someone for entertainment television.

What do they not teach you how to do in fashion school? How to tie a tie.

Yep. In less than 12 hours I would be dressing someone for live television for the first time and my Double Windsor needed to be on point. Thanks to a little YouTube tutorial, they never saw me sweat.

2. Never let them see you sweat

3. Off-the-rack is not a bet you will win

I started my career as most stylists do, working on projects that had little to no budget. Though you feel like a rockstar when you work it out, someone with as much passion for well-tailored clothes as a red carpet requires is priceless. I learned right away that the best place to spend any extra money is toward spot-on alterations.

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Today, I will almost never send a client on the red carpet before my superstar tailor, George Clinton, has blessed the clothing with his hands – especially when it comes to suiting.

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Here’s a tip when buying for your man: Put those $$ toward your tailor, and he will turn water into fine wine.

4. You can’t say “Yes” to everything

Building my career, my motto has always been “Say yes and figure it out later.” I never wanted to regret a missed opportunity or to appear like I couldn’t handle it. While I still live by that to some degree, I have learned that you often need to say “no” for your sanity but also to give the great opportunities your undivided attention.

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5. Always have a Plan B

There was a revolution of dream seekers who balked at the idea of having a Plan B because that leaves room for your Plan A to fall through, and we are not failures! In fashion, however, sometimes Plan A spirals out of our control and we need to be ready for our next move. For my clients, I feel most comfortable walking out of a fitting with a second option should some catastrophe happen with our Hero Look.

You cannot always trust your dry cleaner.

6. Don’t underestimate a good leather jacket 

It will take you everywhere in life.

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7. Balance

Life, work and fashion are all about balance. Don’t show too much leg if your cleavage is out for the world, and sign up for some cardio when you’ve spent all day focused on anything but yourself.

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While I’m certainly finding new footing everyday, I have learned many-a-lesson since I first started as a bright-eyed intern. Some I learned on the spot and some lessons I had time to soak in.

While it hasn’t always been easy and it isn’t all glitz and glam, it has definitely been worth the gas money it took to get me here.

 

Cat Wright is a celebrity stylist. For more information on Cat, visit catwrightstyle.com.

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