Sarah Slutsky On Styling Her Life
From fashion to technology, Sarah Slutsky's professional success prides itself on cultivating authentic relationships. As an endlessly curious, creative, and of course incredibly stylish tastemaker, Sarah is on her way to carving out a unique path for herself as an emerging industry leader.
Using fashion as her vehicle, the rising celebrity wardrobe stylist has built a business with the hopes of making a difference in the lives of her clients and the designers that she works with. As she shared in our interview, "The more connected you feel to someone, the easier it is to work with them. You help them achieve what they're looking for in their collections and I understand what my clients are looking for; so by merging the two together it’s really all about the relationship." With this in mind, Sarah's warm personality, focused determination, and genuine love of fashion certainly makes it easy to create a long-lasting relationship.
As such, you can imagine how excited we were to meet with Sarah while in her element (and while dressed in a gorgeous piece from Brand Assembly designer Nikki Chasin!). We visited the busy stylist at her new home in Brooklyn (which also serves as a meeting space for her clients) where she gave us a grand tour, and shared insight on how emerging designers can form relationships with stylists. In addition to this we also chatted with Sarah about her thoughts on the contemporary fashion scene, the growing synergy between fashion and technology, and what she's assembling daily. Read on for more, and head over to The Style Line for an exclusive second part of this interview.
Please introduce yourself!
My name is Sarah Slutsky and I am a stylist! Previously I was in the middle of the launch of Cinematique, and it has progressed to an incredible point. They have a strong consumer-facing platform with full iPhone functionality, with so many new features that have made it truly self-serving. Now I am working with them on a special project basis, and am focusing on styling and brand strategy, consulting, and all that great stuff! I’m transitioning to being self-employed, which is a fun and challenging adventure.
Let’s talk about the contemporary movement. It’s not only making a splash in fashion but in many other relevant creative industries too. How does this translate into your work as a stylist?
I think we live in a time that is so unique in the sense that there are so many channels right now! There’s something new to explore everyday, and the options for finding inspiration and outlets are limitless. What that’s linked to is the opportunity for many ideas. I always have a hard time with the question, “What are your favorite trends or designers?” I’m definitely still a young person in the fashion industry, and thinking about my fashion history classes, I loved that I was able to talk about the time in fashion history where there was one element that played so hugely into a time period - but I just don’t know if we necessarily have that today. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing it’s just different. We almost have this opportunity for people to identify with what makes them [individually] feel good, that is more accessible than before. With all the opportunities you can really open up many points of view and many conversations.
What are your honest thoughts on the growing synergy between fashion and the digital age, and how do you think this impacts designers more than anyone else?
Digital in fashion is unavoidable. You can try to not have a digital presence and in a way that is really exciting - if someone tried to do that it would be newsworthy! I think the reality is because of digital, we are able to communicate to such a wide range of individuals. I think that brands are able to capture a market that they haven’t been able to capture before with their DNA and their point of view, which allows people to participate in a set of beliefs.
I think as a young person, you can look up to a designer and really be inspired by them. But now with tech, you can participate and feel emotionally connected. I think the digital space plays a huge part in what that means, and moving forward experiences, capturing experiences and authenticity are all huge for the next generation. The boundaries of what’s possible now are limitless. I was talking to a friend the other day about this actress and how I thought she was super cool and how I wanted to meet her and my friend was like, “Just direct message her!” I was like I can't do that and she said why not? And she’s right, why not?
Here at Brand Assembly we like to keep things fun especially when it comes to fashion! Despite all of the day-to-day craziness that comes with your role as a stylist, when it comes to style how do you keep things fun for your clients, your friends, and yourself?
I try to work with people I like. You have to have fun! There are definitely ways to NOT have fun when you are working all the time and you can get burnt out when you push yourself too much. But having a great team and keeping good relationships helps a lot! Going to showrooms and brands where my friends work is great - I get to talk to cool people and look at pretty things. This is fashion, it should be fun. If you’re not having fun, you might need to check yourself. Fun is the ultimate motivation!
What are three elements you look for in a designer when putting together looks for clients, and even for yourself?
I wish I had more of a tangible "follow these steps" that I can offer you! A lot of times people ask me, “What are you thinking about when you are styling? What is your process? What gets you started?” but there is a lot that goes into it that I'm still trying to figure out myself. Honestly the first part is the collaboration, the conversation and just having a good relationship with the people you’re working with. It sets the tone. When I'm working on something editorial or a lookbook or even if I am creating my own piece, I think I'm pretty instinctual. I know that a lot of times what I'm doing is just a gut feeling and I don’t have the facts or the proof to back it up. It’s terrifying to just say to someone, “Just trust me, I feel like this is the right thing to do.” but that’s part of the process.
When you have the instinct, you just have to trust it. Those instincts definitely come from the relationships and connections. For me I’m visual, and I see it and either I get it or I don’t. But specifically when I'm shopping, I try really hard to go through my closet and ask if I have something similar. I try to walk away the first time I see it, and if I still think about it, I kind of give myself permission. That’s how you can avoid that “closet full of nothing to wear" syndrome and I try to make sure I'm really loving the things I'm bringing home.
From fashion to tech, how would you characterize your relationship to designers and what advice can you give in terms of building relationships with stylists?
It’s fantastic to have a great relationship with a brand or designer. The more connected you feel to someone, the easier it is to work with them. You help them achieve what they're looking for in their collections and I understand what my clients are looking for; so by merging the two together it’s really all about the relationship. I think this industry is really fun and creative. I actually follow the advice my mom gave me on the first day of kindergarten which was to “just be yourself!” because you can’t go there being anyone else.
I’m bubbly and want to be close to people and hug them and I think trying to do anything different is a disservice. I think there are all kinds of people out there, so just be yourself and connect with the people you're trying to connect with. You will realize that developing relationships with the people you naturally vibe with is incredible. It’s also OK to accept that you can't have that relationship with everyone. Regardless you must be professional and polite and kind with everyone’s time and energy.
What do you assemble daily?
Everything! I’m a neat freak, like I’m super particular about right angles and having things put away in the right place! I think that actually is how I found myself working as a stylist. Stylists have to see things and pay attention and absorb. I have a really good friend who always accuses me of constantly “styling” my life. Take it as you will, but I will always style my experiences. I think I’m always trying to assemble a daily routine that I feel like at the end of it, is full.
It goes back to that Saturday morning feeling that I can never lay in bed all day. I always feel like I’m missing out on the outside and the sunshine! I envy my friends who can say it’s a perfect day to binge watch a whole series. To me, it’s crazy! I feel like if I don’t have work to do I'm definitely forgetting something or something horrendous is happening around me. Generally I think I'm always trying to assemble a pathway to my childhood desire of making a difference!