This story is part of Parents are Cool!, the third issue of Image, which explores the myriad ways that L.A. parents practice the craft of care. See the full package here.
“Remember the jeans shorts in ‘Dirty Dancing?’” celebrity stylist and designer Monica Rose says, referring to the ones worn by Jennifer Grey in the hit 1987 film. “I cut my jeans exactly the same way and then told all of my friends they had to do the same. I always paid attention to the details and then took it to the next level.”
Despite the dearth of high fashion in her hometown of Santa Cruz in the ’90s, Rose says she was always surrounded by the energy of stylish women, particularly her mother. “I would rather watch my mom get ready to go out than play with my Barbies,” she says. “Growing up, she was 100% my inspiration.”
Today Rose, who has 1.1 million Instagram followers, lives with her husband, former professional skateboarder Sal Barbier, and their three kids in Laurel Canyon. Rose’s children, ages 4, 8 and 11, often reflect the same sharp streetwear-inspired aesthetic as their trendsetting mother.
“In my line of work, I have to dress for whatever works for me that day, plus the kids and what they have going on that day,” she says.
Casual or photo-shoot-ready, Rose’s aesthetic plays with proportion and has a consistent mix of vintage pieces from Helmut Lang, Prada and Donna Karan. Her ’90s throwback sensibility is evidenced in a cropped camel-colored sweatshirt with detachable shoulder pads that she designed for a recent sold-out collaboration with beauty retailer Violet Grey.
Here, Rose gives insight into how even the simplest look can go from subtle to statement-making and shares how there is sartorial power in basic items when styled just right.
What’s the secret to your style?
I always have a statement piece to pull it together. So, I can be in a very simple outfit like jeans and T-shirt and then accessorize with a great statement earring. Or maybe I’m in oversized sweats and I throw on a statement jacket. Oversized is key. For instance, I think an oversized jacket like a long trench coat or blazer looks cooler than something tight. And you can layer it with a hoodie or sweatshirt underneath. There’s nothing worse than a tight jacket where I can’t move. I need to move while working.
What’s your “running-around-with-the-kids-yet-still-chic” uniform?
An oversized button-up. It can be white or denim or even a flannel shirt worn with a track or sweat or denim pant. And then I bring it back to the sunglasses or earrings. I do use a lot of basics: button-ups, T-shirts and sports bra tops. They’re just easier to style. I tend to stay away from prints unless I’m in some kind of springtime mood. I wear heels less since having kids. It’s just too hard when I have a 4-year-old I have to chase after. I’m glad sneakers are cool now. Now it’s about “Who has the coolest sneakers?” and not be judged by it. I honestly feel silly wearing heels when I am with my kids.
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What’s your signature style when dressing clients?
When I style, I have a similar vibe to how I get dressed but work it toward what is best for my clients. I generally don’t want anything to look too polished or too perfect and then I always add something unexpected like a cool shoe, sunglasses or necklace. I am inspired by my clients. They have so many amazing things going on. I work with such amazing women that inspire me to go above and beyond.
What’s your fashion philosophy?
I am definitely about the proportion and the details and then putting a cool touch on it. You have to give the look some love. I learned early on how to put something on and make it cooler. It’s partly why I started Shop Monica Rose — to help people understand how to wear things, how to give their clothes a little love and how to rework and repurpose things. People want to get rid and just buy, and it’s not always necessary.
Helmut Lang top, vintage Calvin Klein from Shop Monica Rose, Mike Amiri boots, pants by Monica Rose and jewelry from Sarah Chloe X Monica Rose collaboration.
Aknvas top, Aknvas bottom, Gianvito Rossi shoes, jewelry from the Sarah Chloe X Monica Rose collaboration and vintage bangles from Shop Monica Rose.
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Helmut Lang top, pants by Monica Rose, Aknvas trench coat, Bellini shoes and jewelry from the Sarah Chloe X Monica Rose collaboration.
Violet Grey X Rewerk by Monica Rose sweatshirt, pants by Monica Rose and jewelry from the Sarah Chloe X Monica Rose collaboration.
Helmut Lang top, vintage Celine pants from Shop Monica Rose, vintage Celine shoes from Shop Monica Rose Zara robe and jewelry from the Sarah Chloe X Monica Rose collaboration.
Vintage Donna Karan trench, Helmut Lang tank, Boyish denim pants and jewelry from the Sarah Chloe X Monica Rose collaboration.