Stylist to the stars Elizabeth Saltzman is the woman behind the unforgettable ensembles of A-list actresses including Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Saoirse Ronan -- who won all of our hearts as she donned one stunning pink gown after another during this year's awards season.
The fashion veteran started her career in public relations at Giorgio Armani followed by a long stint as an editor at Vogue then Vanity Fair, where she is currently a contributing editor, before making the switch to become a full-time stylist. Saltzman's innate eye for fashion-forward elegance, up-and-coming talent and impactful, unexpected looks undoubtedly makes her one of the most influential and talented people in the industry.
ET sat down with Saltzman after she spoke on the Hollywood stylists panel at the BoF West Summit in Century City on Monday to pick her brain about the process in finding the best pieces for her clients, her go-to affordable mall stores, favorite red carpet looks she has styled and more!
Read our interview below to score sartorial advice straight from the style expert.
ET: How do you collaborate with your clients to choose looks they end up wearing?
Elizabeth Saltzman: I think about what situation they’re in and what message they want to say and how they’re feeling. If they’re feeling great about their body because they lost 10 pounds or if they're in a really crappy relationship and they want to cover up or if they need a confidence boost. I just listen to what they want. If they just came off the hardest movie shoot and they’re exhausted, I’m not going to put them in heels that are hard to walk in. And then you try to shape [the looks] and tell a story. It’s not just one dress. It’s a story. This goes on for months and months and sometimes a year. So you have to think ahead. People think it’s just one dress and getting ready and having fun. It is usually up to 500 looks a year.
What are some recent looks you've styled that you're most proud of?
I’m proud of everything because of the work behind it, but my obvious two recent favorites are Saoirse Ronan’s pink Oscars gown. It was really her and it was made with passion for her. I was really proud the train was removable, so the bow can stay on. The bow, the color and the construction is everything. It was powerful for me. And dip-dying the shoes to match. I also loved Gwyneth in the Retrofête at the Avengers premiere. It’s this new designer and I love breaking in new people. I just saw [the gold mini dress] and I knew that’s what she’s wearing to the premiere and everyone on my team was like, "What, you can't put her in that." Yes, I can. It is so her. It was cool and appropriate.
What are three staples you believe every woman should own?
A great trench coat that can go over anything that works as a coat or a dress or it can protect you or be a blanket at the airport. You just need a great coat that you can travel in anywhere. You need a really great white shirt whether you’re into a men's button-down or for me it’s a crewneck long-sleeve satin silk one. I love that. I would be lost without it! They also brighten faces and you can also always dress up a shirt with jewelry. You can wear it with blue jeans. You can wear with a skirt or tux pants. You can make it day or night. The third thing would be great underwear because what’s underneath it all can give you all the confidence. Also, it can ruin an outfit if you have terrible underwear. [Good underwear] can make you feel that much more sexy, cool or secure.
Any advice to women who are not sure about investing in trend pieces?
First of all, you don’t have to try every trend unless something piques your interest. Like right now there’s a lot of color around. Start with something that’s a little different. Maybe it’s just one piece or maybe it’s just a sweater that can go with a hundred different things. You don’t have to invest dearly. Just try it out and see what works on you. Look around, surf around. Look at all the shoots that are out there in magazines and online. Look at what people are wearing. Don’t fool yourself and think you look like someone when you don’t. Just do what’s right for you and don’t invest heavily until you are sure you love it. Think about it. No one needs to have buyer’s remorse. Less is more. I have long-term buys. No one believes me when I say I have only one rail of clothing. I like an edited choice.
What is you go-to uniform?
I wear navy blue trousers and I have about 13 pairs of them. I’ve been wearing them since the ‘80s! It’s a uniform. A white shirt and I always have a blazer or a coat on. I really like things I can travel in. More isn’t always more. I like looks that you can use over again in different ways. And, comfortable shoes!
What are your favorite affordable stores?
I love COS a lot. I think it’s affordable and it has great quality pieces. I love Everlane, in bold print. I use a lot of AllSaints -- best leather jackets that are actually affordable. Uniqlo and Target are great too.
What is your tip in mixing high and low brands?
For me, it’s about one great piece and everything else falls into place. Find your base -- is it a velvet blazer, coat or a white shirt? Whatever your one piece is, you can base anything around it at any price. I am not a price snob. I really like to mix things up and make it real. I also like to recycle. I have zero problem using pieces we’ve used before and showing how it can be worn in different ways.
Any trend predictions for fall?
Color! I’m working on two different couture shows with two different designers and it’s all based on color. I’m really excited to push color and not pastels. Bold colors, not common colors. I really feel like in this world it’s kind of important to have fun when we can. Also, boots, boots, boots of all different heights! I’m really into bringing back elegance, that’s sort of my thing anyway. I really believe in finding the heart and soul of people again and making it a little bit more dressed up and less casual and celebrating design.
Want more fashion? Check out the best dressed couples at this year's Met Gala in the video below.