Jen Abrams Guest Blogging for Handbago.com
As a stylist, and a woman, I get a certain thrill from a truly beautiful handbag. It’s more than just a place to store your belongings, it is an extension of yourself, which defines your personal style. Of course, I love apparel but something about accessories really captivates me. Bags are so functional and versatile, I tend to gravitate towards them, both personally and professionally. As bags come in an endless variety of styles, shapes and textures, choosing the perfect one can be a task. A very fun task for fellow handbag devotees like myself! My penchant of handbags runs the gamut from oversized hobos for storing my entire life in during the day to beautiful, statement piece clutches that enhance any evening look. I like warm neutral tones like camels, chocolates and oranges and anything with texture. I tend to wear gold so a bag with gold hardware is a necessity.
Choosing a bag for a client is a bit of lengthy process because bags really define someone’s personal taste. If a bag is too big for a person’s frame, it can ruin their whole look. At the same time, not everyone can pull off delicate clutches and wristlets. I like to pair classic silhouettes with my more traditional clientele and for my risk taking clients, I often seek out newer designers and unique shapes. Regardless of the client, picking a bag that suites you and your lifestyle is important. I am constantly on the go so my Goyard tote is essential to carrying my work with me.
Throughout my career, I’ve styled celebrity, socialite and high-profile clients. These jobs are fun because they usually come with an extensive budget and unlimited resources. It is lovely to revel in the glamour and exaggerated side of the industry. However, I’ve also styled more typical women: wives and mothers who need a wardrobe makeover or style update. I’ve also had the privilege of working with less fortunate women, some whom have been the product of domestic abuse or have had past issues with addictions. I used my professional expertise to create new wardrobes and looks for these women to allow them to reenter the work force and establish security. Helping them get back on their feet is undeniably a rewarding experience. Empowering them and seeing them regain self-confidence through fashion is what makes my job amazing.
Yes, styling celebrities and well-known individuals is chic and a big part of my career. But, my point is any woman can receive the benefits of fashion and dressing stylish. You do not need an astronomical budget or famous name to feel like a celebrity. Fashion is transformative and powerful on any level and budget.
Take a Hammitt bag for example. They are meticulously well made, modern in design and exemplify that effortlessly “California cool” vibe without having an exceedingly high price tag. The entire range of the collection is between $485-$1350 and all bags are completely designed and produced in Los Angeles, making them bags with integrity. From their fabulous signature Westwood to their Little Santa Monica Messenger , these bags are 100% stitched in LA.
By incorporating a great bag, or statement piece of jewelry, you can completely alter your entire look. Accessories can change your appearance and give you an instant update without spending a ton of money. From working with high-profile clientele, I know it is about the glamour sometimes but most people, famous or not, want to feel confident and comfortable in the skin they’re in. My best advice is to create your own identity and own it! No one can be chic and stylish without confidence.
I am Jen Abrams, celebrity stylist as well as a fashion and beauty editor and television style correspondent. As a wardrobe stylist, I work with brands from all over the world in various high-fashion spreads and feature editorials. As an editor, I pay close attention to detail and the characteristics that make a garment, accessory or handbag unique and valuable.
Handbago Profile Questions
What is your role in the fashion industry?
- The expression, “wears many hats” definitely applies to my multifaceted career. I am a stylist, wardrobe consultant, fashion editor, brand consultant and style correspondent for various media outlets. (could say including Fox29, ABC6 news?) I would say that in all my roles, the underlying theme is style. Whether I am consulting with an individual or a designer brand, I try to bring out their own unique style and maximize it to its fullest.
How did you get involved in the fashion industry?
- Since I was a little girl, I understood what looked good on a person. I would always run around trying to make things and people look their best! At age 6, I was brutally honest if I saw someone in a color that did nothing for them. At the same time, I was never the kind of person that just made a negative comment and walked away without giving my fashion advice. I would give other options, I remember I would put my friends in front of the mirror and drape different colors around their face. I would insist THEY could see the change, the improvement. To this day I still do that with my clients. I have a really intense passion about teaching people what looks best on them rather than just throwing clothes and accessories on them. For me there was no question on what my calling was. Although, I must admit for a brief moment I did consider becoming a doctor for a semester or two, only because I come from a long line of doctors in my family including mom and dad. Of course, the fashion sketches all over my kineslogy exam was a tell tale sign that I should stay true to my passion. After transferring to Design and Merchandising program it was there, that I learned to understand not only the design aspects of fashion, but the business side too. After graduation I worked for amazing brands like like Calvin Klein and Nordstrom. After a couple years of getting that high level retail and designer experience I went back for my MBA in marketing to get a better understanding of the business of branding and public relations. I should mention that during both work and school, I have always been a stylist for various companies and high profile people.
What inspired you to co-found your clothing company, Sugar Tush? And who did the brand appeal to?
- I co-founded Sugar Tush back in 2004 and it was a very fashion-forward, unique children’s line. I was responsible for every aspect of creating a clothing line from designer to manufacturing to marketing. It was very challenging yet amazing experience because I was able to see a project happen and become successful from mere ideas to a final, tangible product. I made the decision to cease Sugar Tush operations in 2008 so I could more fully focus on other aspects of my career but it was definitely a worthwhile endeavor. We dressed The “Sweetest Bottoms in Town”, created national brand appeal in a short span of time. I’m really proud of that.
What is your favorite part about your job?
- I’m always involved with different projects so, in my world, no two days are alike. One day I could be meeting with clients in the morning and hosting a fashion event in the evening and the next I’m writing an article on fashion news or styling a celebrity. My job is ever-changing in the best possible way.
Who was your favorite client to style?
- Such a hard question for me to answer so I probably wont give a specific name. But I will say that yes, I have worked with some incredible celebrities and high profile people in my career which is always fun because they are the people out there being seen and photographed. But I would have to say that my most rewarding styling experiences are working with people that never really saw themselves look beautiful. Maybe because they don’t have the means necessary or perhaps they are women that experienced life changing events (battered woman, recovering alcoholics, drug addicts) and are ready to get back on their feet. I have been lucky enough to style people for national makeover shows and through charitable organizations. Transforming someone into what they never imagined they could look like is actually the best feeling I can have, not only as a stylist but as a person too.
What does fashion mean to you?
- Fashion is a multi-faceted platform for creativity and self-expression. Whether you want to be apart of it or not, you are. Everyone has to wear clothes, which is fashion on some level. But, it is so much more than just putting on clothes in the morning. It’s a way of life for so many people because it is so influential and ubiquitous. Fashion determines how we project ourselves to others and how we think and feel about ourselves. I think some people who scoff at fashion and are skeptical of it being a viable career choice are ignorant and intimidated by the industry because it is so powerful. Fashion is an ever-present aspect on my life because it is my career but even if I wasn’t involved with fashion on a professional level, I would still feel passionately about it because it’s something that’s good for your whole being.
What is your own personal style?
- I think my personal style is classic with an edge. I pair key pieces like well cut simple dresses with one of a kind accessories.
-The key to any outfit is accessories! I believe in the power of accessories and so often I let them do the work for me. I happen to also have a HUGE obsession with bags, shoes and jewelry so it makes for good justification in my personal style mantra. Daytime you will usually find me in vintage worn jeans, boots, simple neutral tops with texture. I have a thing for chunky knits, lace, well worn leather. I like to layer and I am drawn to fabric that drapes well and creates its own texture. When I go out of my signature style (and the weather is warm!) I usually go towards the casual west coast style. Faded jeans, bikinis, gauzy white shirts. I like to invest in great belts and bold cuffs. Gold is definitely my signature when it comes to jewelry. I don’t focus too much on trends; I tend to gravitate towards pieces that are unique and interesting.
- Added inspirational quote courtesy of Diana Vreeland: “You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody.”
Since we’re all about handbags, what is your all-time favorite handbag/designer?
-Hmm when you are talking to a handbag junkie (& stylist), it’s tough to pick one. I would say in terms of styles, my favorites are satchels and clutches. My bag collection runs the gamut from classic designers like Hermes and Gucci to vintage beaded clutches from 1920’s to newer designers like Jill Milan, Hammit, Mulberry and Rebecca Minkoff. My handbags are definitely my most important accessory….to me it tells the most about a women’s style.
When styling clients, do you style the outfit around the handbag and accessories or around the clothing?
- I style around the person. The most important thing is to understand who the client is, what they need and what they are comfortable wearing. That being said, I think any piece can inspire a great look; an unusual piece of jewelry, a great fitting dress, anything.
Tell me a little bit about how you contribute to various publications.
- Right now, I contribute for the UK publication, Fashion Salade, www.fashionsalade.com which is all about high-fashion, everyday style as well as beauty and lifestyle. I also freelance for other regional printed publications and style websites.
Have you put on any fashion events?
-Yes from large scale fashion shows during fashion week in NYC to intimate launch parties for designers.
What do you carry in your handbag?
- Keys, iPhone, small Hermes notebook, NARS “larger than life”lip gloss & MAYBELINE classic black mascara, photos of my most important treasures in life (Aiden and Presley, my son and daughter) and a handful of peppermint patties,(my guilty mid afternoon pick me up!)
What are some current projects you are working on?
- Currently, I’m working with some really talented and fresh faced individuals (in both music industry and entertainment) I am also in constant contact with my established clientele as well. I don’t ever turn away emerging talent simply because they do not have a name or following yet. It really bothers me when I see stylists turn away designers or talent because they arent established yet. For me, that’s the challenge, the transformation that is so exciting to watch. When I take on new projects, it’s because I believe in their potential whether its a brand, designer, artist, etc. I am open to learning about everyone and everything when it comes to fashion. If I see potential in a brand and believe they can really make it, I will take them on as a client. Of course, that being said I have to also believe and trust in my ability as well, in order to have a mutually successful relationship.
Who/what else do you want to add?
What advice do you have for anyone trying to get their foot in the door in the fashion industry?
- My advice would be to, first and foremost, follow your passions and instincts and never give up. More practically, work hard to make contacts and show your dedication to succeeding within the industry. Have a clear idea of what your skills are and what you want to do, the fashion world is huge, there are so many different career options but don’t think you have to stick to only one because I definitely didn’t. If you have limited experience in fashion, start interning, assisting, whatever you can do to garner experience and pump up your resume. Get a mentor, someone who is willing to help you out. Be practical and honest, those who only want to get into fashion because it appears to be glamourous and very celebrity-centric will quickly realize the industry is very arduous and not glamourous. It is composed of hard work and paying your dues but if you want it, there are a million opportunities to succeed.
Your career is a big part of your life, how do you balance work and play?
- The juxtaposition of “work and play” or “career and family” can be enormous struggles. For me, I love what I do, so most of the time, when I’m working, I’m enjoying it and it doesn’t feel so much like “work.” I surround myself with great people and worthwhile projects. Again, I really have to believe in the brands I promote and love the people I work with. However, it’s so important to put work aside and focus on family because at the end of the day that is what matters most.
Anything else you would like to add?
- I have a really great assistant.