Fashion Magazine

An Interview With Tracy Clifford

By Vitadimoda @Maria_Litizia
An Interview With: Tracy Clifford
An Interview With Tracy CliffordIf you're relatively clued in with your A - Z of stylist's in and around the US, then you may already know the lovely lady in which I am going to introduce to you. Tracy Clifford is the highly stylish and chic style consultant with an equally chic resume to match. From assisting the one and only Oscar de la Renta in his showroom, to working as the assistant buyer at Marissa Harrington, Tracy Clifford has built up her career whilst embracing the fashion industry from all angles.  In the last few weeks, I had the chance to catch up with Tracy and ask her a few questions on her career, education and most importantly, what it was like to work for Oscar de la Renta. What I loved about her answers was that she didn't sugar coat the industry: Yes, it can be glamorous and fun and probably some of the best years of your career, but at the same time, it can be cruel, unforgiving and a serious hit to your self-esteem. To work in the fashion industry you need a tough second skin and a mask that stays in place until you step foot in your home at night...
Hi Tracy, it's so great to be able to have this interview with you! I'm sure you may have been asked these questions a few times already in your career, so I apologize if you end up with a case of deja vu!
1. Let's start off with your mantra - Style Matters. You say that the way in which we dress ultimately portrays how we are viewed by those around us, so my question is: what sort of things do you take into consideration when you choose your daily outfits? How do you want the public to see you?
The term "Style Matters" refers to the fact that the first thing people tend to do is look at each other. Their opinion is all too frequently formed based on visual appearance alone. I take this into consideration when I get dressed for an event or meet a client. I base my clothing selection on facts such as whom I am meeting and where I am going. I find it important to stay true to myself and embrace my personal style at all times. The trick is doing that while keeping who or where I am meeting in mind.
The most important way I want people to see me is as a regular person who has a talent and an eye for high fashion and style. I want to be viewed as a woman who is well dressed every day and appropriately dressed for every occasion.
I like my clients to feel that I can help them look amazing by selecting things that not only compliment their bodies but also enhance how they
look in what we have chosen.
2. You've styled a wide variety of people, from dancers to magazine publishers, what would you say is the best part about your job?
The best part of my job is exactly that! I have the opportunity to work with a wide array of people who lead very different lives. I do the best work as a stylist by truly embracing each client and their lifestyle. My goal is to help them figure out how to combine their personal style with every aspect of their life and career. I also try to expand wardrobes by teaching people how to make the most of what they have and purchase only what they need. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing I helped someone simplify his or her life and gain confidence.
3. Fashion buyer, consultant, stylist, assistant to the one and only Oscar de la've built up a pretty impressive CV already, but is there any other aspect of the fashion industry that you would like to break in to?
I am very happy with all of the experience that I have gained throughout my career. There is not another area I am looking to break into per se, but I never want to stop learning - especially since fashion is constantly changing! I strongly believe that in any business, the greatest strength is to understand every aspect of the business from top to bottom. I have been making an effort lately to learn more about the production side of the fashion industry.
Lately, I have been making an effort to learn more about the production side of the fashion industry. I have taken some freelance positions for Lanvin and Sonia Rykiel to get a better understanding of how garments are produced, sold and move from Point A to Point B. I am always fascinated by the trends that consistently weave throughout each collection and into every season. Because I am starting to recognize the extreme impact that fabric availability has on trend forecasting, I have had an increased interest in learning more about fabric production and the fabrication process.
4. As I mentioned previously, you've worked alongside Oscar de la Renta: tell me, what was that like? I'm sure the majority of people who will see this interview will no doubt be green with envy - myself included!
My time with Oscar de la Renta was one of the most important experiences in my career for many reasons. I found Oscar de la Renta to be a very inspiring man. He was often present in the showroom and seemed to be involved in every decision right down to the last stitch. The benefit of starting out there was that I had the opportunity to assist every one that worked in the showroom from the sales staff, design team, PR team, finance group, shipping staff - you name it! I got a taste of what every single person did and how their role helped allow the showroom to function.
The ODLR showroom also taught me one of the most important lessons you can learn in the industry - the fashion world is not always a nice place or a glamorous place. It is also not a very lucrative place and most people seem to be replaceable. This is a lesson that I have learned over and over throughout the years. The reason I manage to remain unaffected is because it is not about the glamour to me. It is about the clothes.
5. I see you studied for your Arts degree at Boston College and then studied fashion at the Istituto Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence, Italy. Do you feel your studies gave you that extra edge in getting you to where you are now?
I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to major in Communication at Boston College and study abroad in Florence, Italy. I encountered a lot of wonderful people along the way and learned incredible things through school and travel. This shaped who I am and taught me who I want to be as a professional and as a person. In that sense, I would say education helped me get to where I am today. But I do not see a direct correlation between my formal education and career. Most of the things that gave me an edge career wise happened post college.
6. Do you feel that studying in Italy had it's advantages?
Italy definitely had its advantages! I enrolled in fashion courses, which were great, but I definitely learned the most outside of the classroom. It is unbelievable how much I discovered through travel,
shopping and just sitting in the piazza people watching. I became familiar with many different cultures, mannerisms and ways of dressing. That is what studying abroad is all about to me.
7. What advice would you give to anyone wishing to follow in your footsteps down the stylist route?
Move to New York, Milan or Paris!
Seriously, I think that every area of the fashion business is very difficult and not particularly lucrative. If you do not have a true love and passion for it, I recommend doing something else. However, if you have anything close to my love of fashion you will find you don't have a choice. No matter what I do, I keep coming back to it. Chicago is a very hard place to be in fashion. I think someone starting out in the field would benefit from spending time in one of the more classically established fashion cities to hone their talent and augment their skills.

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