CAREER FILES

Stylists

A series spotlighting women with inspiring careers—who also happen to have great style.

 

Carrying in some circles as much cachet as “CEO,” the stylist has emerged as the ultimate power job—surprising for a career once believed to involve little more than picking out clothes for a client. However, as the importance of one’s “look” grows (thank social media), it’s not just celebrities who are enlisting the help of women with an eye for great style. From the woman who dresses Ruth Negga for the red carpet to one whose elite clients are too discreet to be named, Tatiana Hambro meets the influencers behind the influencers.

Elizabeth Sulcer

If you’ve ever wondered who was behind Bella Hadid’s incredible style transformation (from Alexander Wang’s skin-hugging sequins at the Met Gala to an all-white tracksuit by Antwerp streetwear label Hyein Seo for the airport), let us introduce you. Elizabeth Sulcer has always been in fashion, beginning as a design intern for Alexander McQueen before transitioning to her current role as a freelance stylist who counts Victoria’s Secret as a client. She also serves up regular editorials in Self Service and the European Vogues. Interestingly, it’s her work with Hadid that has made more of an impact on modern style than any of those editorials. The proof? Currently, Hadid has nearly 50 separate Instagram handles dedicated to her personal style, described by Sulcer as “glamour mixed with downtown New York ‘90s street style” (You can credit her for your obsession with crop tops.) In fact, she’s setting trends more often than she’s following them. “We like to create our own unique vision.”

What do you love most about your job?
The freedom and creativity. I work with so many incredible and inspiring people every day. I also love the travel.

 

What do you dislike about your job?
High stress and last-minute projects.

 

From where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere: vintage fashion, travel, movies and books.

 

How would you describe your personal style?
'90s French Vogue, powerful glamour meets downtown NYC style.

 

Is there a key piece in your closet?
Yes, many—especially denim and leather pieces. I most frequently wear my oversized suede motorcycle jacket, BLK DNM, my black quilted leather YSL logo bag with gold chain, black sequin cocktail dress and my Rockstud Valentino heels.

 

Do people “get” your job?
Depends who you ask.

 

What characteristics are required to do your job well?
Personality, highly organized, talent… purpose and vision.

 

What is your greatest achievement to date?
Styling the latest Bulgari Campaign and working with Michael Bay on a custom piece for Transformers 5.

 

Stylist tip?
Stay true to your vision.

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Karla Welch

When asked for her job title, Welch writes “Boss.” Clearly she comes with a good sense of humor. However funny, it’s absolutely true: as the most in-demand celebrity stylist around, Karla Welch is bossing it. Her clients (who she’s now able to pick and choose) include actors (Ruth Negga, Sarah Paulson), musicians (Justin Bieber, Lorde) and models (Karlie Kloss). The common denominator? They’re all at the top of their game—and are therefore regulars on the red carpet. But unlike the others in similar roles, you’re unlikely to find her on the Fashion Week circuit. “I’d love to work more with designers on red carpet collections,” she says. Smart, given the power of wearing something never seen before. She’s also a regular on Instagram. Who does she follow? Yours truly of course! “Moda really helps me discover designers I have never heard of. It’s an amazing tool.”

How would you describe what you do?
I am an image maker.

 

How did you get your start?
I grew up in fashion—then, when I met my husband (photographer Matthew Welch), I started styling his jobs… and here I am!

 

As a child, what did you want to be "when you grew up”?
I wanted to be a fashion designer. I also wanted a restaurant. I also wanted to be a lab technician.

 

What do you dislike about your job?
The nonstop travel can get to be a little bit tiring.

 

What was the best advice you ever received?
Good clothes open doors.

 

What would you advise someone today?
Realize the importance of being an apprentice. Learn from someone. Commit to them and realize that it isn’t about what they can do for you—you are an extension of who you are working for, so represent!

 

Is there a key piece in your closet?
My Balenciaga moto jacket from the NG (Nicolas Ghesquière) days.

 

Do people “get” your job?
Not really.

 

What characteristics are required to do your job well?
Unafraid of hard work.

 

What is your greatest achievement to date?
That I am employed consistently.

 

How do you define success?
Am I happy? Pretty easy.

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Nicole Pollard

“I don’t really care about Hollywood,” says Los Angeles-raised Nicole Pollard. “I have always preferred to dress real people for real life.” And by “real people,” Pollard means a global spread of high-powered CEOs, political leaders and royalty—most of whom are so high-profile she’s unable to name them. And their expectations are as high as their social ranking. “My clients can afford anything but the word ‘no,’” she explains. “I go to great lengths to make sure they are happy,” something that includes cornering Victoria Beckham at Soul Cycle and politely requesting she start cutting her trousers larger on behalf of a client. Often, the service extends beyond the wardrobe, something that led Pollard to start her own company, LaLaLuxe, which essentially functions as a personal creative agency. “Our creativity seeps into every facet of their lifestyles. I have overseen children’s birthday party invitations and designed the interiors of private jets.” She says it best: “The sky is the limit.”

How would you describe what you do?
I work as a creative director for my clients, helping them to portray the best versions of themselves. We usually begin with their wardrobes but our creativity seeps into every facet of their lifestyles.

 

What do you love most about your job?
I love my clients, they are so interesting and kind. It feels good to help people I admire and respect look their best.

 

What do you dislike about your job?
I really love it all… but I guess I could leave the deskwork behind. I hate returning emails!

 

What was the best advice you ever received?
Put one foot in front of the other. People get so stuck trying to be perfect and freeze. I learned early on that the trick to avoiding failure was just to keep moving ahead.

 

What would you advise someone today?
See above. Truth.

 

How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is dictated by my mantra of living everyday like a vacation. I love effortless, easy pieces with a tropical vibe and a touch of boho. You should see my caftan collection! I am an L.A. girl after all.

 

Is there a key piece in your closet?
My Hermès collection helps me feel put together, whether I’m shopping for a client or navigating my way through an airport.

 

Do people “get” your job?
People understand what “Fashion Stylist” means, but we go so above and beyond that role. Our clients get what we do the moment we start working with them.

 

What characteristics are required to do your job well?
Fit. Style. Patience.

 

What is your greatest achievement to date?
My family.

 

How do you define success?
I have learned money doesn’t buy happiness so I count my success as a hug from a client, and being able to go home at night, look in the mirror and feel proud of my accomplishments.

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