Last week, I got a chance to sit down with fashion stylist Kim Appelt of Style By Kim XO to talk all about the fashion industry. She had been in town to attend Notable.ca’s Western Canada awards en route to LA to attend Fashionista’s “How to Make it in Fashion” Conference. Ever the jetsetter, she met me at YEW in the Four Seasons for a quick chat right before heading straight to YVR to catch her plane!
Splitting her time between Vancouver and LA, Kim Appelt has a roster of personal and celebrity clients she dresses for everyday, personal appearances and the red carpet. In addition to Style By Kim XO, Kim also has a weekly radio segment on Palm Spring’s Mix 100.5 and has collaborated with brands like BCBG, Anine Bing and even the swanky SLS Hotels chain. Lucky girl!
Tell us about your approach to styling.
It’s classic with an edginess. And that’s what my clients are looking for: cool everyday wear. They don’t always want to wear a dress and heels, but they want to look good and be comfy.
How do you stay on top of fashion trends?
I start my day at 5:30 a.m. with a cup of black coffee while I comb through some of the top online fashion sites, like Vogue, Into the Gloss, Fashionista and Elle. I also visit a bunch of my favourite bloggers, including sincerelyjules.com and theblondeside.com.
What are some personal style philosophies you swear by for all of your clients?
Basics, basics, basics. You have to have the proper building blocks in your closet or you won’t be able to dress properly. I encourage my clients to invest in staples (e.g. shoes, purses, a leather jacket) and to buy the highest quality they can afford. Also, make sure the staples are timeless and versatile, so that they can be worn at least three ways.
How is it different dressing celebrities from styling personal clients like the mother of the bride?
With red carpet looks, I take into consideration things like how the camera will pick up detailing on the outfit, the client’s best side and how that works with the dress or suit in terms of photographs. But for both red carpet and personal clients, I’m thinking about many factors such as climate, event location, personality and durability of the look.
Dressing celebrities must be a dream career for many stylists. How did you get started?
It’s really just a personal preference. Some stylists actually don’t like dressing celebrities and prefer to stick to personal clients and/or editorial or commercial photo shoots. Personally, I love dressing celebrities and have a passion for creating looks for the red carpet – having them showcase different sides of their personality. I got started when I met a few celebrities socially in LA and they asked me to dress them. After that, it was word of mouth. You’re only as good as your last client, so that keeps me on my toes!
Being a stylist is mostly a freelance gig without the structure of a traditional job. How did you know you finally “made it” as a stylist?
This is an interesting question. Even though I’ve dressed the red carpet at the Daytime Emmys, some guest stars on Saturday Night Live, and hung out with celebrities in many green rooms, I don’t really think of myself as having “made it.” Like I said before, you’re only as good as your last client, so in that regard I think I may always be striving to make it.
How did you make the jump from Kelowna to LA?
I actually got to LA through Mexico! I was on vacation and made friends with this great guy who turned out to be Canadian-born designer Mark Fast. I started working with him and went to London Fashion Week, and from there I met some celebrities who needed help with styling. Eventually that led me to LA and more clients. I’ve never looked back.
Who are your favourite Canadian designers?
I really like Nicole Bridger. She is inspiring, talented and driven, while still maintaining her commitment to eco-consciousness. Also, I’m a fan of Vancouver’s own Jason Matlo. And I love Mackage – their coats are incredible.
If you could meet one person in the fashion industry, living or dead, who would it be?
I would love to meet Karl Lagerfeld. He’s so talented and eccentric. And always so innovative.
Who are your fashion icons?
Iris Apfel for her larger than life personality and her approach to life. She has a great attitude. Also, I would have to say Angelina Jolie for her style.
Last question: What are your favourite sites for online shopping?
My top three picks would be Shopbop, Revolve Clothing and the L.A. based Kitson. On these sites, they have curated the best pieces for each season online and you can look at it and emulate those pieces.
Photos provided by Kim Appelt.
This article was originally posted on Style By Fire: