We had a chat with Carlee Wallace, a Canadian fashion and advertising stylist with an impressive roster of clients across music, film, and editorials. She talks with us about her life and projects until this point, what she thinks will trend in 2021, and advice for budding stylists. 


What sparked your interest in fashion?

I used to be in performing arts from a very young age. So my interest started around that time of my life. I was out on stage and acting and I just fell in love with costume design and everything to do with fashion. And that led me down the path of modeling. I was modeling for a number of years when I was younger which then ultimately led me into styling. I moved to London to study fashion and worked in fashion there for about six years. 


What were the steps you took once you decided that you wanted to be a stylist? 

The first step was picking the program that I studied. Because I was modeling in Milan, I had discovered this fashion school called Instituto Marangoni. They had one in Milan, one in Paris, and one in London at the time, and now have a few all over the world. They taught a program called fashion styling, which wasn’t really a term used in the way it is now. It was graphic design, photography, art history, and all the things that I was interested in. From there I began assisting other stylists and getting experience anywhere that I could. 


What approach do you take when you first start styling someone? Is there a specific formula that you have?

There’s no specific formula,  it’s a case-by-case basis on who that person is. The people who are really used to working with stylists have a way that they like to work. Some people have not. So there’s always a little bit of a different approach depending on who they are and what they do. I love learning about their personalities and what interests them in their life. And I usually just take their sense of style and elevate it by trying to take it to a new level that maybe they hadn’t heard of or thought of. I like to push people a little outside their boundaries of what they would normally wear or what they would normally feel comfortable with. And it tends to work out well. 


Do you have any go-to designers for styling? 

There are so many. Specifically, there are so many that I love, and I appreciate and have done the Fashion Week circuit for. So I really enjoy buying them specifically. I love going to Fashion Week and discovering new designers that are emerging and getting in with them while they’re starting and growing with them as their brand develops.


Who are your personal style icons?

I love Jenna Lyons. She’s the former creative director of J. Crew, and she has gone on to start her own brand. I just love what she has been able to do. And she steps into different brands and takes them to the next level. And her personal style is very similar to my own where it takes basics and somehow makes it work.

© Jeremy Jude Lee

How would you describe your style in a couple of words?

Adventurous and classic- I really love classic cuts and silhouettes. 


You’ve done a lot of really cool jobs. But is there one in particular that stands out to you?

There are so many different avenues of styling that I do. But there’s one that stands out. I just did the Eddie Bauer campaign. It was a really fun and exciting shoot. And also the shoot I did with Maya Gabeira for Lululemon in Hawaii was amazing. She’s a pro surfer and I spent two weeks hanging out with her every single day. She’s an inspiring person to be around.


What staples do you think every woman needs in her closet?

Every woman needs a great-fitting pair of jeans, a leather jacket, and a really cool, practical pair of sneakers that you can use to run around the city and still look fabulous.


How has COVID impacted your business? 

It has been interesting. My job requires me to touch people and be in close contact with people. So it has been a really big learning curve, learning the ins and outs of how to make sure that I’m safe, make sure that my clients are safe, and be able to work in this new world that we’re living in. I have been very fortunate that I’ve been able to work throughout and keep things going. It’s been a little bit slower, but for the most part, it’s been quite good.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a stylist?

My advice to someone who wants to become a stylist is to just get yourself out there and work with different people. Say yes to everything. And just throw yourself wholeheartedly into it. Traveling helps to be able to experience other cultures. When it comes down to styling, understand that different people have different styles. For the most part, just throw yourself in and email people. I’m a big believer that you have to do the free labor a little bit at the start as well, just to start building your network.


What trends do you think we’ll see in Spring 2021?

There’s a real nostalgia at the moment for travel. So I think we’re gonna see a real big influx of travel-related things or worldly fashions that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. We’ll see a huge influx of different prints from different cultures as everybody is dreaming about all these places. There’s also, a big push towards different silhouettes.


What’s something you’re working on right now that you’d like to talk about?

We just did an album cover for Felix Cartal’s newest album called “Expensive Sounds for Nice People”. And he has a music video that we just shot that’s coming out in the next couple of weeks for a song called “Happy Hour”. That’s something to look out for.