Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe doesn’t beat around the bush. As a stylist, designer, fashion editor, author, and mother, she doesn’t have time to. Known for her former reality TV show The Rachel Zoe Project, she’s gained a reputation for her outspoken honesty and her “Zoe-isms” like, “that’s bananas” and, “I die.” But there’s more to the style icon than her unconventional enthusiasm for fashion. We chatted with Zoe about the challenges she faces as a businesswoman, her clients’ insecurities, and how her style has evolved since becoming a mother.
What five things do you always have in your purse? Honest baby wipes, Honest healing balm. I always have a myriad of moisturizer. Like face moisturizer, lip moisturizer — probably three or four different kinds. Obviously money, two pairs of sunglasses and usually some kind of fragrance.
What kind of fragrance? I wear a lot of oils. But my favorite fragrance that I wear is Tom Ford, Santal Blush.
What’s on the top of your must-have list for fall? I would say definitely many oversized chunky sweaters. I love ones from Stella McCartney. A great tuxedo or suit of some sort that you can kind of mix and match with different shirts.
Is the suit for men or women? For women! You know, it could be a flare leg. It could be a skinny pant. It could be with a great fitted suit jacket you can mix and match, that you can wear with a T-shirt, you can wear it with flats, heels.
What’s the last thing you splurged on? I got an amazing, kind of Navajo suede vest from Isabel Marant. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I’m obsessed with it.
Has becoming a mother changed your style? Absolutely. If I used to spend 20 minutes getting ready, I now spend five. And unless I’m doing something without my children, or I’m doing something where I have extra time allotted to get dressed, I’m basically going to my “uniform,” those things that work and I know fit me and are durable. Typically dark colors — don’t wrinkle easily. I definitely have a lot more denim in my life.
What’s your Starbucks order? Haha! It’s not what you think it would be. What do you think it is?
I would think something highly caffeinated. Yes. But many people think it’s some kind crafted coffee drink, very specific. But it’s actually just a Venti English Breakfast tea with two bags — so it’s very strong.
What’s the most important thing a woman should remember when getting dressed in the morning? Don’t overdo it. Don’t try too hard, because people can see that.
What’s one thing in your closet that’s priceless to you? There’s a lot of pieces I’ve collected over the last two decades that are not replaceable. You know, I had a suitcase stolen about four or five years ago and I still get so, so sad about it … Your clothes are replaceable on some level. But the collector’s pieces really aren’t. It’s so hard for me to answer that question because I’ve been collecting for so many years. There are so many things that mean a lot to me.
So, what percent of your closet is vintage or irreplaceable? I would say 70 percent.
What’s been your biggest challenge as a businesswoman? I think the biggest challenge is standing up for yourself and not getting looked down upon for it. Meaning, when a man is strong-minded and opinionated, they’re looked at as intelligent and powerful. And typically when women stand up for themselves and are very definite about their decisions, or their strategy or their intention, sometimes women get called “difficult.”
You’ve styled all kinds of women. Some are A-list celebrities. Do you find that most women have insecurities about the way they look? Yes. Ninety-nine percent, yes. I would say it’s human nature. I do. I think men have them as well.
This is a hugely broad question, but how important is confidence? It’s the most important. As great as you look, if you’re sitting there with your head down and your shoulders hunched over, you’re not smiling, you keep fiddling with yourself, that immediately takes away from strength.
Is it harder to dress women with curves? No, not at all. When a woman has curves, it just means typically that you have to wear things that are more tailored and more fitted.
Fashion can be expensive. Is it possible to embrace trends and stay stylish without spending big bucks? Oh, a 1,000 percent yes. I’ve always believed in that since I started. People with the most limited means and budgets for their wardrobe tend to have, very often, better style … because it forces them to be more creative.
Any embarrassing trends or outfits from your past you wish you could take back? The entire decade of the ’80s.
You’re launching a new show on Lifetime; what can fans expect? It will be a super glamorous and a fun talk show. Nothing too serious … [We’ll be] talking about all that happens in pop culture and the world of fashion and style.
Be honest with us: is anyone paying attention to Seattle when it comes to fashion? You know, I am! I am because I know a lot of people in Seattle and I see it’s really developing its own culture in the world of fashion and style.
Zoe is hosting The Posh Party at Bellevue Fashion Week at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Hyatt Regency. Tickets are $75, and 100 percent of proceeds go to the local nonprofit Bellevue LifeSpring. 425 magazine is the media sponsor.