Meeting With Fashion
Orlando magazine writer Maddy Zollo Rusbosin talks with Stacee Michelle, wardrobe stylist and fashion correspondent.
Recently, Michelle was in Orlando to host the Fashion Brunch and Boutique Stroll during The Mall at Millenia’s Fashion Week. The event benefited Runway to Hope, a program that provides direct assistance to children affected by cancer and their families.
Question: How is this program important to you?
Stacee Michelle: Any opportunity to be a part of an event that supports fashion and philanthropy, I am all ears! Cancer has directly affected several people in my family including my mother, who is a cancer survivor. I’ve witnessed the physical and emotional struggles that the diagnosis can have on a person. No matter what the age, the pain and expenses are the same! Cancer affects more than just the patient, it also impacts the family that is supporting the one diagnosed. What I love most about Runway to Hope is that they not only raise funds for pediatric cancer treatment, but also relieve the financial stress that can weigh on the family through their Family Assistance Program. Knowing that you have a support system makes a world of difference, and I am here partnering with The Mall at Millenia and Runway to Hope to help bring awareness and financial support to those families battling pediatric cancer.
Q: When did you realize that you wanted to work in fashion?
SM: Before I was old enough to buy my own clothes, I was into fashion. As the youngest of three living in Seattle, I was often the recipient of hand-me-down ensembles from my older sister. In order to make them look new, I had to be creative. I developed a distinctive personal style of my own, turning worn pieces into one-of-a-kind looks. I was constantly in awe of the creativity and art in fashion magazines. At one point, I covered my entire bedroom wall with fashion editorial clippings not knowing that soon I would be creating editorials of my own.
Since childhood, I have been enamored by the idea of turning my passion into a profession. After graduating with a Bachelors in Fashion Marketing, I did just that. I quickly went from conducting Q&As with local business owners and haberdashers in Queen City to interviewing A-list celebrities in the Big Apple during New York Fashion Week.
Q: You’ve really become a jack-of-all-trades in the fashion industry—from styling to blogging to being an on-air talent. What is the key to being able to balance it all and stay on top of such a dynamic industry?
SM: Every day I am encouraged to work harder and strengthen my craft. The key is to prepare and know your industry. My common industry thread is fashion & entertainment, so regardless of the platform I am working on (TV, digital, editorial, personal), it’s in line with my knowledge and expertise. Preparation is an essential part of success. You can find me researching looks for a new client, consulting with a major brand on a partnership, or becoming more versed about an organization and its sponsors before hosting an event. The more prepared you are, the less stress you have, and it makes it easier to navigate through this ever-changing industry.
Q: What’s been your career highlight so far? And what are your future goals?
SM: A career highlight has been working with E! News to cover Miami Swim Week and New York Fashion Week. From backstage coverage of the hottest designer looks, to re-creating runway hairstyles with TRESemme, to talking all things fashion with Chrissy Teigen, it was a time to remember!
Future goals are to penetrate the international market as a fashion insider contributing to TV, editorial and online media; produce a digital style series; and increase brand partnerships both as a style influencer and event/media host.
Q: What trends are going to be big this fall?
SM: Three major trends hitting the stores this fall are velvet, modern suiting and shades of red for both men and women.
Q: How will these trends translate in a warmer climate like Florida’s?
SM: No need to worry, all of these trends can translate for the Florida trendsetter. The key to making fall trends wearable for warmer climates is to work them into your ensembles as an accessory, select a lightweight fabric, or, opt for a shorter sleeve length. Velvet comes in everything from apparel to accessories, so this trend should be an easy one to mix into your next outfit as a sleeveless top or cross-body bag. When it comes to modern suiting, instead of wearing a full pant suit, try pairing a double-breasted blazer with a leather skirt or shorts. The best part about the color red being a trend is that anything goes and in all shades. A bordeaux slip dress or a mixed print sheer blouse paired with some frayed-hem jeans and a red bootie would be a fun way to look cool even if the temps are high.
Q: Who are your style icons?
SM: My top fashion icons are Diane Von Furstenberg and First Lady Michelle Obama. These women are more than just stylish. They are trailblazers in the industry, empowering women of all ages to be strong and embrace their individuality. Neither of them are stylists or work as fashion correspondents, but they are great examples of the type of professional woman I aspire to be.
Q: What’s your advice for women still trying to discover their own signature style?
SM: The key is to embrace your individuality. Defining those characteristics or qualities about yourself that form your character and finding unique ways to incorporate that into your wardrobe. What message do you want people to get when they first see you? What is your lifestyle like on a weekly basis? Answering these questions will give you the initial steps to discovering your signature style. Always keep in mind that confidence is your best accessory. Without it, nothing looks good.
Q: What’s the one fashion staple that will never go out of style?
SM: One fashion staple that will never go out of style is the classic white button-up shirt. Whether you decide to style it professionally for the office, pair it with some jeans for the weekend, or dress it up with a party skirt and jewelry for a special event, it virtually can be worn with anything. I personally have about six variations in my closet—I love it!
Q: In the social media and influencer age, what’s your advice to someone who is trying to break into the fashion industry?
SM: Here are three pieces of advice:
- Get a mentor or an internship. Reach out to those industry professionals you admire that are doing the job you want to do. Getting a mentor or internship will help you better understand the industry and find out exactly what it takes.
- Create opportunities. Identify what you are passionate about and create opportunities for yourself. There are hundreds of people who are interested in being a wardrobe stylist or correspondent. What is going to set you apart is your portfolio. If there isn’t a job posting for what you want to do, don’t just sit around and wait for someone to give you the opportunity, make one for yourself!
- Build relationships. The relationships you build in the industry are so important. It will be your network of resources and community of support for your own business when opportunities become available. Attending industry events, on-site projects, and being active on social media can help establish these relationships.