Micaela Erlanger for Banana Republic

Dress Like a Celeb With Style Tips From Stylist Micaela Erlanger

As I round the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 10th Street in Manhattan, I spot a woman in a striking yellow dress smiling and posing for the camera. Observing someone’s quest for the ultimate photograph in this age of social media is hardly uncommon, but learning that the woman in yellow is celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger makes the visual more interesting. Erlanger is usually on the other side of the camera, helping clients like Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger and Meryl Streep secure the perfect step and repeat. Later, over a brunch hosted by Banana Republic, I ask the author of How to Accessorize: A Perfect Finish to Every Outfit what it takes to nail a red-carpet moment and how she taps into the identity of a high-profile client.

When you’re working with someone new, how do you determine their style?

“I generally put together a mood board, and we have a creative conversation. We talk about what they feel best in. It’s about polishing, elevating and putting a little spin on it. Once you find a groove with someone, that’s when you can have fun. That’s when you can explore and take risks.”

You ask your clients to create Pinterest boards. What are you looking for in these?

“Mood, silhouette, attitude, feeling, colour…I use a lot of vintage references. A mood board doesn’t have to be runway looks. Those are good for making suggestions, but oftentimes you’ve got to capture the essence or feeling of something, and it’s easier to communicate that with images.”

What makes a “best-dressed” red-carpet look?

“Confidence. If you feel confident, you look confident and you own that moment. It shows in photos—the way you move and the way you wear something. It’s effervescent. Confidence is everything.”

What are some of the biggest mistakes a person can make when getting dressed?

“Fit. I think it’s really easy to wear things that don’t fit properly. They’re too small or too big because you’re buying things off the rack. I would encourage everyone to invest in a tailor because even the smallest alteration can transform an outfit. It can change your shape. It can give you a waist. It can elongate your legs. Another mistake is not using accessories. They’re the easiest way to elevate or transform your outfit. But this can be a daunting task for some people. They may not use any accessories, and that can be a disservice that impacts their look negatively.”

How does your job and fashion relate to a person’s identity?

“My role completely relates to identity. My job is really about developing and cultivating someone’s public image, and that’s a very personal, private process that I have with each of my clients. Especially with new talents I’m working with, where we’re shaping their image. My work is collaborative. I work closely with each of my clients so that they can feel like the best version of themselves. The process has to be authentic.”

Click through for an outfit inspired by Erlanger’s tips.