In Her Shoes: A Chat With Julianne Hough's Stylist Anita Patrickson

Anita Patrickson - P 2015
AP Images

Patrickson, who also styled Ariel Winter at Sunday's Emmys, talks character dressing, favorite flats and an essential stiletto shopping tip.

What began as a response to a Craigslist ad has become a multi-platform career for Anita Patrickson, stylist, costume designer and red-carpet guru.

In 2005 she answered an ad for a stylist assistant — with no prior experience, but a love for fashion. A year later, she became the assistant west coast editor for Allure magazine, styling covers for Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Katherine Heigl.  

See more Emmy Awards 2015: The Red-Carpet Arrivals

She later broke out on her own and began dressing celebrities like Emmy Rossum, Rachel Bilson, Chanel Iman, Emma Watson and Julianne Hough, as well as styling covers for Elle, InStyle, Vanity Fair and Glamour, to name a few. Her commercial work includes a wide range of brands, from Nike to Target, and she's served as the costume designer on America's Next Top Model and Tabitha's Salon Takeover. Most recently, Patrickson styled Hough and Ariel Winter at Sunday's Emmy Awards.


A photo posted by anitapatrickson (@anitapatrickson) on

Most recently, the style juggernaut co-founded the International Style Institute, a new, first of its kind three-day course for stylists who are serious about making styling a career. This intensive session immerses future stylists in every aspect of the industry, with expert speakers (led by Patrickson herself) discussing topics like trend forecasting, how to bill, and preparing clients for a press tour. The entire experience culminates in a full photo shoot.

Two lucky students from the program also get to accompany Patrickson on her next gig — sounds like the school of our dreams.

Read more Emmys 2015: Elisabeth Moss' Bold Blond Transformation

Patrickson chatted with Pret-a-Reporter about this latest venture, and, of course, shoes.

Pret-a-Reporter: You've dressed some of the biggest names on the red carpet. What is the number one thing you look for in a shoe for that evening?

Patrickson: The shoe is the cherry on top! It perfects the direction you want an outfit to be seen in. Adding a penny loafer to a dress or a thigh high boot to jeans and a tee dictates the vibe and energy of an outfit. When styling men, I really go off their personality. Some clients like to have a little fun with their shoes which could be a fun sneaker or a smoking slipper. Others prefer to stick with classic and traditional. For guys, comfort is essential — women will suck it up for a gorgeous looking shoe!

Read more Emmys 2015: The Top 10 Shoes on the Carpet

Actresses often say that they really inhabit their character when they step into the shoes. When you are dressing a character for a TV show or movie, how do you decide on what shoes they will wear?

This is absolutely the truest way to build a character's wardrobe. I actually start with the shoes and work the rest of the looks from there. Because if you get the shoe right, then you already have your "person." In terms of deciding, it really is just about having a vision and a gut feeling. I spend all day looking at people's shoes and making snap decisions about their character, it's become a fun game for me — so it's really just an extension of that. Are they sensible? Do they have three kids all under the age of six? Are they going to meet a lover? Do they work in retail and have to stand around all day?

Favorite red carpet shoe designers?

Gianvito Rossi, Tabitha Simmons and Aquazzurra. Each of these designers has a unique sensibility that always feels original and authentic.

What is your favorite shoe of all time?

My favorite shoe of all time is a pair of espadrilles. My boyfriend is the co-owner of Soludos and when we first met four years ago he gave me a pair on our second date that I wore 'til they basically fell apart. I love Soludos and wear them on an almost daily basis, but this pair in particular is very special to me.

My second favorite pair of shoes that I absolutely love are a pair that I bought for myself as a present after I had been on tour for Harpers Bazaar for two months: A pair of really fun black and white Valentino booties.

What do you think about the block heel coming back so strongly? Chic or frumpy? Any shoe designers doing it right?

Super chic! Nicholas Kirkwood is doing some amazing shoes with a gorgeous block heel. I also love the Louis Vuitton burgundy booties with the pink block heel.

Favorite flat sandal and why?

My favorite flat sandals are these lace up Bottega Veneta ones I bought last summer. I wear them with everything!

What type of shoes do you wear for Fashion Week?

Fashion Week is all about the flats for me. There is nothing cute about hobbling about on painful feet. You could always keep heels in your bag to switch out before a show. But because I am there to work, comfort (and the ability to run from one location to another quickly!) is key.

Favorite flat?

My favorite flats are this gorgeous pair of blush patent Meandher brogues. They are so comfortable and add a element of fashion to every ensemble.

Give us one fierce tip on wearing stilettos — go!

Choose a pair that shows off a little toe cleavage ... that's the sexiest stiletto shape in my book!

See more Emmys 2015: The Top 10 Best-Dressed

And finally, why are shoes so amazing?

Shoes are amazing because they can make or break your look, they are truly the window into someone's aesthetic and no matter whether you are having a fat day or a bad hair day, shoes always look amazing!