Personal stylist and retail consultant Whitney Olschwanger tells us about her background in fashion, the lines she’s loving right now, and how she’s cultivated a personal style tailored to her work, travel and personal life.
I’m from Dallas, but I have lived in LA for almost 11 years! I have always loved fashion and I have always had what some may consider “crazy” or unique style. My degree is in Advertising and I always thought I’d work in something marketing/PR related. I love people and showing them products that I’m passionate about. I ended up getting my first job at Nordstrom at the Grove and being the first personal shopper there almost 11 years ago. This was what kick started me into realizing I could have a career in fashion. I think all of the different people I’ve developed relationships with and brands I have been in touch with got me to the place I am in today. I currently have a personal shopping and consulting company where I work with men and women to make their wardrobes more modern and accessible. I challenge my clients to get out of their comfort zones, while still making sure that they feel like themselves when they walk out of the door. I think ever since I was a young child I have loved fashion. When I was as young as three years old I used to have bracelets layered up my arms, and I would mix prints even though I knew they technically didn’t match from as early as I can remember.
On Personal Style: The different places I have lived in my life have definitely changed my overall style as well as the brands I have worked for. Growing up, I lived in Texas and didn’t have as clear of a direction as I was still trying to define who I was and what I loved. When I first moved to LA, I lived in West Hollywood and then moved to Venice. Living in Venice, I had a very bohemian vibe on the weekends, but during the weekdays I worked for Helmut Lang and dressed in only black and white and looked very clean and modern. When I finally moved to the Eastside (Echo Park and then SilverLake), that is when I felt the most true to myself. My style is now modern with an edge. Sometimes I like dressy, sometimes sporty, and sometimes I go the opposite direction and wear a fitted dress or two piece suit. I love to use different textures, colors and prints to mix and match looks. On Dressing for Life in LA: I feel like the way I dress depends on the day and what I’m doing. When I have a first client appointment, I usually tend to dress in something clean and simple that fits well. I have a suit from Low Classic that I love to wear and a couple of dresses from Nomia. I will always wear comfortable shoes, likely my Prada boots or oxfords. Another go to brand when it comes to summertime is Cecille Bahnsen. I just feel pretty in her pieces and they make such a statement without standing out too much. When I go to a second client appointment, I’m loading a lot of boxes, so I like to wear slouchy pants, a comfortable t-shirt and a nice jacket, blazer or trench coat. I’m beginning to experiment more with color again, and my favorite recent purchase are some teal pumps from Bottega Veneta. I have already worn them so many times in so many ways!
Current Inspiration: Travel ALWAYS inspires me. I’m always thinking about the next place I’m visiting. This summer I am planning on living in Paris in June, and am also traveling to London for a client, as well as Italy and Stockholm for the ATP Atelier line opening. Walking into the Bottega Store on Melrose place and seeing all of the different RTW and accessory options that Daniel Lee is working on makes me so happy and makes me super inspired. The mix of high and low fashion is so important in today’s age, and I’m always trying to decide what my next investment piece is, as well as what I have that I love in my wardrobe. Also, I have been enjoying adding pops of color or accessorizing in different ways. I just bought a Prada bolo tie and I’m having fun styling it back to more tailored shirting options. I also have so many friends that are female entrepreneurs, and they inspire me tremendously. Some are fashion designers, some are in the tech space and some are in the art world. I love picking their brains and seeing the future of the different industries and how I can learn from everyone.
Favorite Designers: I ALWAYS love Loewe; I especially love anything from the Paula’s collections in the summertime. I love the tonal color palettes, texture and interesting but simple pieces from Bevza - they are so angelic. I love Bottega Veneta for accessories and adding a pop of color to an otherwise tonal look. I go to Low Classic for elevated suiting and Frankie Shop for basics at reasonable prices. For incredible quality basics I look to Khaite and I can’t stop thinking about that cashmere bra top with matching sweater! Nomia- Their blazers have amazing fits and her dresses feel super feminine. She also made an amazing sequin and fringe scarf that I love to mix and match with other pieces in my wardrobe Sacai-I would wear everything from Sacai if I could. The prints, fabrics and styles are just amazing and there are always so many great pieces for travel! I love MM Druck’s jewelry and Shaina Mote for her amazing attention to detail in her blouses and dresses- they are so ethereal and so easy to dress up and down. All of a sudden I am absolutely obsessed with Mara Hoffman, her colors and styles are so fun and feminine. I love the prints at Dries Van Noten so much, and even the t-shirts are amazing fits. The store in Paris is one of the most beautiful and special places in the world. On Packing for Travel: I am so good at packing for other people and terrible when it comes to packing for myself. I always pack my wide belt from CO, Prada boots, Prada sandals, Bottega white sneakers and one pair of heels. I try to keep my accessories fun, and I always seem to get carried away with jacket options. I also use packing cubes to organize each of my looks and they are AMAZING!
On Building a Personal Wardrobe: I always try to make sure a new client has the 8-10 best items for them for travel before investing in additional special pieces. I also try to make sure the client I’m working with can style each item they own in at least 3 different ways. I think it is so important to invest in the right denim, t-shirts and belts and to work with an amazing tailor. Tailoring can definitely make or break a look, and it can also give an item have a second life.