In Her Shoes: A Chat With Celebrity Stylist Jen Rade
The woman behind Jennifer Morrison's red-carpet style reveals her top shoe-packing tips, the best way to deal with painful stilettos and the shoes she'd like to be buried in.
As one of Hollywood's top stylists, Jen Rade has done it all. She got her start styling hip-hop videos for Bell Biv Devoe and Ice Cube; went on to style Marilyn Manson, Pink, Everclear, among others; and now dresses A-listers including Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Morrison and Zosia Mamet. She has styled award-winning commercials for Target and Apple, and appeared everywhere from Under the Gunn to Styl'd as a fashion expert. Her own line on QVC, The Edge, regularly sells out on the behemoth retailer, and we think with this dossier, she might be one of the hardest-working women in Hollywood style today.
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When it comes to footwear, Rade has no problem putting her clients in vertiginous stilettos, but she'll also hand out Pretty Ballerina flats and Foot Petals shoe cushions to mitigate that pain. Personally, she prefers her classic UGGs to stilettos any day.
We sat down with Rade at the exclusive Tracy Paul event at Soho House, and learned why one pair of leopard-print stilettos can get you everywhere, why E6000 is the best adhesive for attaching crystals to shoes and what pair of shoes this insider's insider wants to be buried in.
What pair of shoes are you crazy for right now?
I just got a pair of Vince Camuto suede flats with little tiny studs — they are like walking on a cloud. I am not a person who will ever choose form over function. I like a combination of both and I'm on my feet all day, so I like things that are cute but that are comfortable and can work with anything. And I am a little bit more tomboy edgy — not super feminine in that way for everyday shoes.
What's one of the wildest pairs of shoe you've ever styled?
I did the Dr. Dre/Tupac video for "California Love." So that was a very heavily styled, Mad Max kind of theme. For Dre, we customized boots and knee and chin pads with metal cleats. We bought a boot and we had metal pieces put on and we put acid on the metal to rust it out and then we got spikes and we put spikes all around the chin pads. They were beyond shoes!
Oh! And I did Adam Lambert for the "Queen" tour. I hand- crystallized with Swarovski crystals a men's boot that literally took us days. We used 4,000 different-sized crystals and hand-placed them on the boot to make these just incredible shoes. By the way, for customizing shoes, I don't like hot glue; I like E6000 and I use a bead tool, beeswax, Q-tips and my fingers. It's very spiderweb-y, so you have to be careful.
What shoes would you want to be buried in?
I can't be buried in any kind of high heel because what if you want to do some heavy lifting in the afterlife? You have to prepared. And I don't have a pair of sneakers, even though I feel like I should. So for the sake of not knowing what's next, and for safety and comfort, I would go with UGGs — classic tall, in chestnut. So cozy and your calves are all protected. I wear them all the time. Very California. I am sure I am the only stylist who wants to be buried in UGGs, but I just couldn't be buried in heels. What happens when my body starts shrinking away? But I will be buried with my Chanel bag!
What pair of shoes were your first splurge?
I have a few pairs over the years that I have splurged on. I have to really, really love something to buy it. There's my Alberto Fermani low moto boots, I'm obsessed. I can wear them with tights and a skirt or boyfriend jeans rolled down. My Stuart Weitzman 50/50 boots because I have very skinny calves; actually, I might be buried in those, too — could I have a side pair? In case I have to run from the devil? Then there are my Rag and Bone stacked-heel suede bootie, Pretty Ballerinas are always a go-to for me. I also have a pair of Roberto del Carlo perfect heeled, slightly almond shape black leather narrow calf boots I bought in Copenhagen that I wish I would have bought three pairs. Oh! And my Gucci super sky-high bronze and metallic leather platforms I call my big-girl shoes. I almost died in those one time, but I love them.
For clients, what do you like to put them in?
I love Pretty Ballerinas — so easy and comfortable — love the loafer and oxford. I get these for clients all the time because they are just so easy to wear. When I'm pulling for clients for red-carpet events, it's Jimmy Choo, Louboutin, Brian Atwood, Kirkwood stilettos. I'm like, I know they are 14 inches, you will be fine — hello, Foot Petals! We bring the box of Foot Petals everywhere.
Favorite shoe you ever put on a client for red carpet?
Jennifer Morrison — TIFF — we got this leopard Christian Louboutin and styled every single outfit for the entire trip with these shoes. Each thing we tried on — we kept going back to it. We were like, "OK, this is it." I love leopard. To me, it is a complete classic, you can dress it up, dress it down — and those were literally the only shoes she took for the entire trip. One pair of shoes.
Tips for packing shoes?
I always pack them at the bottom, turn them front to back, roll up underwear and bras inside my Bric's luggage. Try to be efficient! Ask yourself, "Am I really gonna work out in those sneakers or could I just walk on the beach barefoot?"
Any last shoe words?
Shoes are great and they are just so fun and the variety out there in the world right now — it makes me so happy. They're art for your body. You could be wearing the most basic thing in the world — just a white tee and jeans and that one leopard Louboutin or one red great shoe could change your whole entire outfit. It changes your posture, the way you walk, how you feel about yourself. Everything starts from the bottom up so the right shoe can be really, really critical. Ultimately, it's about what makes you feel comfortable and what you feel the best in. Dress for yourself, don't dress for anybody else.