Ever wondered how even when a celebrity is out shopping or grabbing dinner with a friend, they always seem to look both polished and effortless? Well, there’s most likely a stylist behind their low-key ensemble. That, and a stylist’s trusty capsule wardrobe, or as they call them, their “kit,” which many in the business, including Hollywood styling veteran and Affirm partner Tara Swennen, swear by. In fact, the celebrity stylist of more than 20 years never heads out on a job without it.
To find out how we, too, can get that same nonchalant look that every well-dressed celebrity has, I called on Swennen to find out what exactly lives inside her kit. And just like when she dresses clients like Kristen Stewart and Allison Janney on the red carpet, she didn’t disappoint.
Clothing-wise, Swennen tells Who What Wear, that her styling kit is all about the classics. “Those tend to be neutral pieces, such as white and black tanks and tees; black, [skin-tone], and red pumps and strappy heels, black and white trousers; and neutral blazers.” For her, the key is to find and invest in upscale basics that will “stand the test of time,” she says. “Trends are constantly evolving, but ageless, staple pieces that are high quality and built to last will survive not only the four seasons but [the entire year].”
Knowing that splurging on pricier essentials isn’t always the easiest or most possible route for shoppers, though, Swennen is joining forces with Affirm. “I’ve found Affirm to be really helpful in making these investment purchases because it lets you buy the essentials you need now, but spread out the costs over time,” she says. That way, you can build your own life-long capsule wardrobe without obliterating your monthly budget.
With that in mind, see what wardrobe essentials this stylist of 20 years swears by and finally unlock the secret to all your favorite celebrities’ effortless aesthetics.
“The perfect white tee is truly essential for my clients year-round. It is the perfect layering piece that pairs with virtually anything. It can be paired with jeans, under blazers or dresses, and adds a casual cool to just about any ensemble.”
“As ’90s nostalgia hits the scene this summer, I won’t go anywhere without high-rise wide-leg jeans. This roomie cut combines comfort and ease while bringing an effortless vibe to any summer look.”
“One of the most classic, versatile, and effortless shoes is your classic white sneaker. Whether it’s from Vans or a Chuck Taylor, this shoe is a wardrobe staple.”
“When it comes to polished layers, nothing is as timeless as a classic black blazer. It adds a sharp, sleek, and tailored edge to any look.”
“Crossbody bags are not only trendy and stylish this season, but also extremely practical as well. Opt for a fun pop of color or a fun shape such as a fanny pack and throw them on for just about any activity this summer!”
“Vintage handbags are fun and easy to combine with contemporary pieces. In fact, they should be the focal point of your look! Simply ensure that you buy an authentic piece—these are worth the splurge. If a deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is!”
“A collaboration with Run DMC in the 1980s solidified [Adidas’s Superstar sneaker’s] legacy as a style icon. I like to pair them on my clients with cargos, pleated skirts, and oversize denim.”
“Elevate your everyday look with this effortless essential. I always have these on hand for summer as they give some breathing room for one’s feet. They come in a variety of styles and are perfect for your summer getaway.”
“This fitted staple is a layering lifesaver. They provide a smooth foundation layer to pair with anything from blazers and crop jackets to skirts and jeans and even underneath dresses.”
“This is a fitting essential in my studio. Opt for a classic neutral such as black or red, or match your skin tone to elongate your silhouette: The key to finding the right sandal is making sure you incorporate both style and comfort! Platforms are great trendy options too!”
“These are always a red carpet fave! Be sure to choose a high-quality sequin so that it doesn’t look tacky and remember to not over-accessorize! The key to full sequins is minimalism on every other front!”
“These are a wonderful investment, as they can be reused summer after summer! They are the perfect dress for a spring wedding or a summer vacation! Try a fun print or a floral and pair with a wedge or fun flat.”
“This versatile accessory adds interest, flair, and color to one’s look. There are literally dozens of ways to tie scarves, from around one’s neck to one’s head to even one’s bag. Opt for a vintage classic from brands like Hermès and Gucci for a timeless look.”
“Fashion should always be stylish but can also serve a purpose. I always have sunglasses on hand for my men and women as UV radiation from natural sunlight can be damaging to one’s eyes. Find a style that works well for your face and use them as a playful accessory to add edge to one’s look.”