Monica Rose opens up her LA studio to share her personal style.
You can’t scan a fashion website, Instagram or even Snapchat without seeing Monica Rose’s work. The LA-based stylist is currently outfitting the most-photographed women in the world—one name girls like Kendall, Gigi, Kim, Khloe, Kylie and Chanel. Not since Rachel Zoe in the mid-aughts has a celebrity stylist’s particular fashion DNA been so recognizable. Rose favors monochromatic looks in white, black, gray, tan and the occasional red, plus signature pieces like the long dramatic coat, cropped top, leather and suede separates and delicate jewelry. The results are a band of beautiful minimalist glamazons whose style is slowly being copped by the masses.
BAZAAR went to the source—Monica Rose’s studio in West Hollywood—to see how this power stylist and mom dresses for her own life. First up, attending work meetings in vintage Levi’s and a sweeping Balmain cardi, “I am such a tomboy,” Rose explains, “Maybe that’s why I style my clients so sexy—because I live vicariously through them.” For Rose’s default setting, “on the go,” she favors jeans and a great leather jacket, “I live in my motorcycle jackets. I love my Laer brand one because of the leopard sleeves—it’s all about the details.” And lastly, when the stylist hits the event scene and the camera is turned on her. “I’m not a dress girl… I always think I’m going to wear one to an event, but I’ll gravitate towards a sexy jumpsuit instead. I just feel good in it.”
See Monica Rose’s personal style below, get some trade secrets and, most importantly, take notes—this woman is influencing your closet and you don’t even know it yet.
Describe your style in 3 words. Effortless. Essential. Evolving.
Who are your style icons? A mix between Bianca Jagger, Jane Birkin and Kate Moss.
What’s your wardrobe MVP? My black motorcycle jacket.
Trademark accessory? Black choker—’90s revival.
One piece you’re buying for spring to update your look? I’m looking for a good cognac brown bag or shoes.
If you could only wear one designer the rest of your life who would it be? The Row.
First fashion memory? My mom’s closet… She has such cool style and was always on trend even though we lived in a small town and had very little money. She always looked so chic and polished without even trying. I would always organize her closet and told her that she was not allowed to use wire hangers. I made her change all her hangers to the same color. I believe I was 5 or 6 years old. Another thing I would do is call my friends the night before school and tell them what to wear the next day. If they did not wear what I suggested, I would get upset and not speak to them for the entire day. It would really upset me because I just wanted them to look good and be put together. My friends’ parents would get upset with me because I would cut their jeans to give them a cooler, edgier look. They would call my mom upset and told her that I needed to stop being so bossy and cutting their kid’s wardrobe. Clearly, I was not a normal child— my mind was all about perfecting wardrobe vs. my studies. Let’s just say school was not my thing!
What would you never wear? Flip flops.
Go to evening look? Leather pants, sexy blouse and statement coat with a red lip.
Daytime uniform? Skinny black distressed jeans, grey tee and a moto jacket… I have zero time to get myself together during the week.
Do you wear a favorite piece to death? My black Karen Walker oversized sunglasses and my cropped Laer brand moto jacket.
Are you a closet editor or a builder? Both… I love to edit and get rid of things I know they will never wear. Some clients have no attachment and get rid of things very easily while others just can’t seem to let go! I am always patient and let them hold onto things until I bring up old pics of why they should get rid of it! That always seems to work. I am always on the hunt for fabulous new wardrobes and shoes for my clients on a daily basis.
How did you get your start in styling? I have so much love and passion for what I do—it has always come naturally to me. I started styling in 2003. At the time, I was working at a retail store on Robertson and knew that after working in retail for so many years I needed a change. I did everything I possibly could, from management to opening stores and working with a stylist in studio services and training sales associates. I would even help some clients organize their closets. I would do anything creative and productive just to keep myself busy. I just loved working one-on-one with my clients. I loved working with stylists that would come in and pull for different projects. Back then, not too many people knew about styling as an occupation— I didn’t even know stylists existed before I moved to Los Angeles. Mind you, this was before social media and it was not public knowledge that celebrities were being styled all of the time. I was so fascinated by the idea and knew deep down in my heart I could do it, but I was so scared because I had no idea where to start.
What’s your approach when you first start styling someone? Do you ask questions, go through their closet? I meet with the client and from there we bounce ideas back and forth in terms of developing their signature aesthetic. Then, I go off to do more research and start curating a selection of garments and accessories that meet their needs.
The girls you style are often in dramatic coats, is that a personal signature of yours? I am all about a dramatic coat!
Do you generally style for day to day as well as events? I do both depending on how much my clients have going on. My clients get photographed as soon as they walk outside, so that’s where the need for day-to-day styling originated. Plus, they film every day so that gives them very little time to dress themselves as they have extremely busy schedules. That’s where I come into the picture.
Who are some of your go-to designers for styling now? So many… It’s crazy how many designers we work with. I love Sally Lapointe, Haider Ackerman, The Row, Unravel, Iro, Perfext … I mean the list goes on and on. It’s never ending over here at Monica Rose Studio.
What’s the most fun part of your job? Seeing my clients get excited for looks that I create… It’s such a blessing to be able to do what I love every day and work with clients that I love and who inspire me.
Most challenging? What people don’t understand is that the act of literally styling is only 30% of the job… I love creating looks for everyday and red carpet but people do not know how hard it is to get the wardrobe for these looks. We are glued to our phones and computers researching, calling in wardrobe and running around town to every showroom and store in LA. We are non-stop and there is so much preparation that is required beforehand. It can be very stressful at times. My team helps me so that I can run around to fittings with all of my girls. They are constantly sending me look books and pictures to preview so I can select the best of the best for my clients. I really count on them to be on top of everything 24/7. There is no room for error. The aftermath is a full time job returning and keeping track of all of the inventory. I like to be creative so the challenge is to constantly come up with new ideas while managing a business and a family. It’s a lot and it can be very stressful at times, but I love what I do so much that I mange to make everything look easy, but it’s not.
What should girls steer clear of? Unflattering clothes! Know your body and dress for your body type. I think girls these days don’t know how to dress for their bodies and want to wear certain trends that just don’t work. If you’re uncomfortable and worrying about what you are wearing it’s probably not the best choice for you!
What’s the bag and the shoe to buy now? Saint Laurent just came out with a black leather backpack that I’ve been eyeing. And Dior makes these black booties that have been hard to find for a client. They’re sold out everywhere! Also, I’ve been on the hunt for a velvet square toe bootie.
Favorite look that you’ve styled to date? Hard to say. There have been some good ones as of late.
What is one no-fail styling trick you have? I take everything in at the waist and I always use my tailor to fix everything. I think that’s why my styling can translate as very polished. I try to perfect every look with my tailor.
What’s your philosophy on the high low-mix? What are some of your go-to approachable brands? I love to mix high and low— it makes everything look more effortless and you’re not trying too hard. I mix Topshop, American Apparel, Zara and H&M on my clients all the time.
Are you pro leggings as pants? No leggings— they should only be worn to the gym and the gym only! I went through a leggings phase when I was pregnant, so I think that’s why I am over them. However, if you have a body like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid you can actually make leggings look high-end, street chic and cool.
How do you like to use color? I love color but definitely have to be in a mood for it and it has to be something special. I’ve been into red lately. I do tend to stick to neutrals, it just always looks so chic.
What’s one thing you’d never put a client in? Flip flops.