Living in Style

Inspiration and Advice for Everyday Glamour


By Rachel Zoe

Foreword by Diane von Furstenberg

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Rachel Zoe is an unparalleled fixture in the fashion world known for her unique take on effortless glamour. The designer, stylist, and editor is celebrated for shaping the images of Oscar-winning actresses and creating collections that embody her modern and sophisticated look. Now she wants to help you define your own personal style and incorporate it into all aspects of your life, from your wardrobe to your home to your next dinner party.

In these sleek pages, Rachel offers trusted tips and advice-along with style insights from her fellow insiders, friends, and family members. You will find never-before-seen photographs from Rachel’s private archives and learn about her personal icons, from Jane Birkin to Coco Chanel. Along the way, she also reminisces about her earliest influences and shares the story of her own style evolution.

Whether you’re accessorizing a chic black jumpsuit, entertaining friends, or perfecting your Friday night smoky eye, let Rachel Zoe be your guide to living in style.


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It's hard to believe that I wrote my first book, Style A to Zoe: The Art of Fashion, Beauty & Everything Glamour seven years ago. At that time, as a stylist, my days and nights involved everything from high-profile client fittings to red-carpet premieres to late-night fashion parties. It was frantic, nonstop, and exciting—I definitely didn't get enough sleep! But in hindsight, I now see that I was often focused so much on the details that I forgot to step back and see the big picture. It's not that I didn't realize what an exciting career I had. Believe me, I did. I just rarely slowed down to take a moment and appreciate it all.


My life has dramatically shifted since then. Along with being a wife and a stylist, I'm now a fashion designer, a CEO to nearly thirty employees, and a mom to our toddler son, Skyler. You would think that with all this, I would be even more sleep-deprived. Surprisingly, my day-to-day is more manageable now. That's because taking on these new roles and responsibilities has forced me to become extremely efficient—whether it's streamlining my wardrobe to be versatile or reconfiguring my living room for more warmth and comfort. I also had an epiphany along the way. It dawned on me that while my work has always revolved around making people look fantastic (which I truly love to do), I needed to focus on living in style, too. And while my first book focused mostly on the red carpet, the chapters here are a reflection of my own chic world. Since my life evolved dramatically, I've had to redefine some of my own sensibilities and expectations.

Make no mistake—I still love glamour. I will always love glamour. But I have reinvented it in different ways that suit my new lifestyle. My definition of glamour is now a bit more—gasp!—practical. Maybe even a little relaxed, too. And this new outlook applies to everything from my fashion choices to my free time. I now see how denim with a fantastic statement jacket can be as glamourous as a sequined evening dress or why an intimate Sunday supper with friends can be as chic as an over-the-top cocktail party.

What's most important is that I have learned there are no absolutes in life. I'll always be the first one to tell you to break a style rule—even one of my own. I wouldn't be where I am right now if I didn't ignore most conventions and take risks every day.

I'm so excited to share my personal stories, inspirations, and advice with you—not to mention, to help you define glamour in a way that works overtime for you, too. It's been twenty years since I started working in fashion. This book feels like a celebration of my two decades in the industry!



People always ask me how I got my start in fashion. I'll get to that, I promise. But what comes to mind when I think about where my passion for beautiful clothes and my obsession with being a part of this industry began is my very first fashion show. Front row? Please. I literally crashed that runway show. It was Marc Jacobs's spring collection in New York, about fifteen years ago; I had no invitation. In fact, I recall feeling incredible anxiety as I stood in line on the street for hours, not knowing whether I would get in at all.

Keepsake fashion show invitations.

Mr. Valentino with supermodels Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bündchen.

Of course, I can still remember exactly what I wore that day—a vintage black Alaïa dress with six-inch black Manolos. My favorite lipstick at the time was MAC Chili, so my pout was a fiery red. There was no way I was going to miss that show—I was so starry eyed. I would have camped out overnight on the sidewalk, if necessary. A Marc Jacobs show was—and still is—one of the highlights of every Fashion Week. Everyone who was culturally relevant and cool was there, from Sofia Coppola to Winona Ryder, and half of New York wanted a ticket. In my mind, no was not an option. A well-known event photographer named Patrick McMullan noticed me lingering outside and snapped my picture—a little black dress can go a long way. He said that he expected to see more of me, which made me feel like I belonged there even more. As soon as the doors opened, I ran to the front and charged through. I even managed to scam a seat, though I was so far back that I couldn't see the looks on the models below the waist. I didn't care.

The runway, the lights, the electricity in the room! I was totally hooked. My next stop had to be Paris to see the haute couture shows. I had saved up enough money to finance a weeklong stay in the fashion mecca. "This is my dream. I need to do this," I said to Rodger, who has always supported me. We had just married—I was twenty-six—so I guess you could call the trip my fashion honeymoon. It sounds exciting, but I have to admit I was pretty lonely over there. Working as a freelance stylist in New York, I hadn't yet met a lot of magazine editors or designers. Fashion circles can feel impenetrable.

Model at the Chanel Haute Couture show, 1999.

But once I finagled my way into some of the shows—again, after lots of waiting around and practically begging for tickets—it didn't matter at all. I held my breath as supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bündchen paraded down the runways in unbelievable confections of every fabric imaginable. The sheer architecture of Alexander McQueen's collection for Givenchy stunned me. When I glimpsed the elegant, avant-garde gowns and outrageous hairpieces at the Chanel show, my heart literally stopped. Skipped a few beats. Remember your first crush—that rush? For me, this was true love. And I fell hard.

My infatuation wasn't just with the amazing, intricately constructed clothes, though; the fantasy and the glamour and the theatrics made me gasp and even tear up a little. More than anything, the shows reminded me of the transformative power of fashion: you can put on a red dress and take on a whole new identity, or slip into a pair of shoes that alter your horizon in every way.

Even as a little girl, I daydreamed about fashion. I would dash to my mother's closet as soon as I woke up each morning. Who needed cereal and cartoons? I preferred her trove of designer high heels, jewelry, scarves, furs, and jumpsuits. But it wasn't just about playing dress up for me—I didn't even need a mirror. As soon as I layered myself in her chunky tribal necklaces and stood in her chic Maud Frizon heels, I felt instantly like a glamourous woman.

When I was about thirteen, my parents took my older sister, Pamela, and me to Europe for the first time. In Saint-Tropez, I spotted these incredibly elegant women meticulously tanned right down to their ankles and dripping with gold jewelry. Each one of them looked so effortlessly chic, as though she had stepped right off the beach into a little black dress and piled her hair into a messy topknot. Voilà! I knew in that moment that I wanted to be that woman. Always.

And what I realized when we returned home to our traditional suburb of Short Hills, New Jersey, was that I could be that woman—well, sort of—if I dressed the part. Pictures from my early teens show me wearing that topknot and as much gold jewelry as I could "borrow" from my mom. Like many others, I also turned to Madonna as my saint of style and sometimes wore rubber bangles up my arms and teased my hair into a wavy bob. All the while, I pored over fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Harper's Bazaar for inspiration. I wanted to know everything about new designers and trends. My friends became my models, too. Girls would come to my house after school for their makeovers. I would restyle their clothes with scarves and belts, or roll up their jeans and add new shoes—I even redid their hair and makeup. We called it "Dress up with Rachel."

In one of my favorite dresses, age 3.

In one of my favorite dresses, age 4.

One day, I decided to work my magic on a neighborhood boy who always wore tracksuits. It drove me insane, because his parents dressed so well and I knew that he had fantastic clothes in his closet. I went over to his house and I laid out outfits—Ralph Lauren cable-knit sweaters and khakis to loafers and matching belts—for the entire school week, Monday through Friday. The next day, he showed up looking like he had walked right out of a Polo ad. To see him looking so good made me feel proud and incredibly happy. It was obvious that he felt a whole new sense of confidence.

Back at that time, I had no idea that I could build a career around my love for making people look their best. The closest I came to working in fashion in my teens was a part-time job at Nine West, where I sold the most shoes out of all the employees each week. Even then, I had this contagious enthusiasm for fashion. I would slip a pump onto a woman's foot and say, "This shoe is going to change everything for you." After I graduated high school, I went to George Washington University and majored in psychology and sociology. How we think and behave has always fascinated me; that education has proven to be a great foundation for what I do now.

As a stylist, I understand how fashion can affect your mood and your perspective. It's not just about clothes. What you wear is a visual extension of your self-expression. A velvet tuxedo jacket or a vintage caftan can help identify who you are and how you want to be seen. And now, as a designer, I contemplate that power whenever I sketch the strong lines of a suit or test the weight and feel of one of my bold cuffs. Fashion excites me today as much as it did when I sat in the back row and watched that first magical Marc Jacobs show. I still literally get goose bumps when the lights go down and the music starts—whether it's the show of a new and upcoming designer or my own collection coming down the runway.

On set with the Backstreet Boys, 2000.

With Lanvin creative director Alber Elbaz.


Would you rather win the lottery or have dinner with Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz? Does the sight of a vintage architectural Christian Dior cocktail dress from the fifties make your hands shake a little? Me, too. I rarely meet people who are on the fence about fashion and style. Either you love it and breathlessly look forward to the new looks every season or you don't.

My first real foray into this world was styling shoots in New York at the now defunct teen magazine YM. At that time, I didn't even realize there was such a thing as a stylist. A friend of a friend told me about a fashion assistant position at the magazine. I was so nervous in the interview, but my obsession with style and designers came through and I got the job. There, I was insanely devoted to making everyone featured in the magazine look chic and cool. I worked long and hard and within two years jumped from assistant to fashion editor to senior fashion editor. The work exhilarated me and I learned so much about the process of creating beautiful looks for editorial covers and photographs. But I also discovered that I wanted to operate more autonomously and creatively. I decided, after two and a half years, to make a huge leap and go out on my own as a freelance stylist. I was terrified, but at the same time, I was lucky that I had such supportive parents and Rodger on my side.

For me, working required a lot of discipline and a lot of faith. Some days, I worked with musical artists like Backstreet Boys, Stone Temple Pilots, and Jessica Simpson. Other days, when I didn't have a gig, I willed my phone to ring with another assignment. Making money wasn't my priority; I was just happy to be doing what I loved on my own terms. I really believe that people who love fashion don't dream of becoming rich—they just thrive on the creativity of the business and fantasize about gorgeous clothes.

In the end, a stylist's job is to make everything look effortless. If you flip through a magazine and skim a fabulous editorial spread, it's easy to assume that the process is as glamourous as those amazing photos, and the same goes for watching a beautiful actress swan down the red carpet in a breathtaking gown. But trust me—a tremendous amount of work precedes those gorgeous fashion moments.


You can't even imagine how many racks of clothes and cartons of shoes and bags get lugged to a photo shoot. I typically call in anywhere from twenty to fifty dresses for an award show; fittings begin about two months ahead of time. It's hard work, no doubt, but I often stop in the middle of a crazy job to take a deep breath and appreciate the wonder of it all, whether I'm choosing which amazing vintage cocktail ring adds pop to a 1960s-inspired photo spread or pinning a couture Chanel gown on an award-nominated actress.

But the true emotional payoff comes when my team and I order in Chinese food to watch the Oscars and I see one of my clients looking ravishing and confident on the red carpet. Later that night, Rodger and I will hit the party circuit and stop by Madonna's legendary after-party. Still now, the chance to be part of such an iconic and glamourous event is always a highlight.

With Skyler


As a mother, wife, designer, stylist, author, entrepreneur, and obsessive fashion enthusiast, I constantly struggle with the art of balance. There never seems to be enough time in the day to devote myself entirely to each of my passions and responsibilities. Every hour is scheduled with meetings that range from reviewing prototype handbags for my collection to discussing potential partnerships. In the height of award season, I'm dashing to clients' houses for fittings and drinking twice as much tea as my usual three cups a day! But, with all that said, I wouldn't trade any of it for the world. Here is a peek at the schedule I try to keep for the most part, day-to-day.

7:00 A.M.: I wake up and before anything else, go immediately to my son, Skyler, and cover him with morning kisses. Then, I make him breakfast and play with him a bit. That time together is crazy important for me. I like to be with him before Europe and New York start calling.

7:30 A.M.: I'm usually stationed at my kitchen table with a very, very large cup of English breakfast tea and a bowl of berries with Greek yogurt. I get on my computer and begin to filter through my e-mails. I usually wake up to more than a hundred of them—and often, I won't check certain ones before I go to bed the night before, because then I would never fall asleep. In between e-mails I love to skim WWD to see what's happening in the world of fashion.

8:30 A.M.: I go upstairs for a three-minute shower and then take thirty minutes to get ready from start to finish—no longer. I typically slip into tailored black trousers or crisp denim with a soft tee and a cashmere duster or structured jacket. I don't lay it all out; I just go by instinct and then grab a pair of heels and sunnies to complete my look. Moisturizer, mascara, concealer, cheek tint, lipstick. A spritz of Tom Ford's Santal Blush and I'm off.

9:30 A.M.: I get into the office, which is always fun, because I love my team so much. First, I check in at the styling studio, which is a floor below my office. I like to work my way up in the building. Together, we skim the racks, discuss past shoots, upcoming editorials, and clients' schedules. We may be pulling for a premiere, a press tour, an editorial shoot, or an ad campaign.

11:00 A.M.: Next, I wander up a floor to meet with my product development office to check if the latest collection samples have arrived yet, or to show them a vintage picture that inspires me. (I get in trouble if I try to sneak by them!) Then, I wander over to my digital team. Typically, I'll meet with the editors of my daily fashion, beauty, and lifestyle website and newsletter, The Zoe Report, to discuss upcoming content, trends, likes, and dislikes. I love this part of my day, because I'm surrounded by dozens of twentysomethings who have their fingers on the pulse of everything that has to do with fashion and beauty. It's fascinating to hear about the new street trends and amazing products they discover. After that, I check in with the graphic design team to go over layout and imagery for the website and newsletters. You would be amazed at how much time and effort goes into selecting the size and placement of each headline, border, and image you may breeze over on any given morning. I'm picky… in a good way, of course.

12:30 P.M.: I typically break for lunch around this time, and Sky almost always joins us for the meal. As a mom and my own boss, I'm fortunate to be able to take a little time for lunch each day. Everyone needs what I call a "sanity break," because it gives you clarity when you go back to work. Lunchtime is now one of the most important and satisfying moments in my day—plus, I get to spend some time with Sky! Pre-Sky, lunch was always a walking meal.

1:00 P.M.: On any given day, I might jump right into a footwear sketch review or a resort color and concept preview. During this time, my team and I make edits to the collection while conceptualizing designs for upcoming seasons. I might choose between gold or silver hardware for a bag or examine how a certain fabric falls in a jumpsuit. I love making these creative decisions.

3:30 P.M.: The meetings continue, focused on bigger, broader business issues with the brand and the company. Even though Rodger and I work together, his office is around the corner from mine and we don't visit each other that much. We might walk into a meeting and say "Hi, babe"—but really it's all business during the day. We act like colleagues and always keep it professional. But every once in a while, I like to duck into his office and be a little silly to break up the day. Laughter is very important to me, and I think that's why our nine-to-five relationship works so well. During these larger brand meetings we might discuss prospective partnerships, strategic opportunities, or upcoming appearances at department stores or conferences, which I love to do, because I get to meet the women who wear my clothes.

6:00 P.M.: There are exceptions, of course, but I always try to go home to feed Skyler his dinner. Then later, when Rodger gets home, we give Sky a bath—both of us get splashed—and put him to bed together. Bath time and reading books is a family ritual that brings me so much happiness. Growing up, I remember my mom combing knots out of my hair after bath time and my father singing "Good Night, Ladies" every night to me before bed—until I was thirteen!

7:30 P.M.: In a perfect world, my husband and I sit and have dinner. I order in take-out and we drink a glass of white wine and try not to talk about work. Sometimes we are both in bed by 11:00 p.m. and watch reruns of Friends and Will & Grace while returning e-mails. But it's more likely that we go out to dinner or have an event three times a week. It's important to make time to support my peers by attending everything from editorial dinners to store openings to product launch parties.


On Sale
Mar 25, 2014
Page Count
272 pages

Rachel Zoe

About the Author

Having immersed herself in fashion and design for over two decades, Rachel Zoe has been heralded as one of the most influential forces working in the industry today. Through her work as a stylist, her eponymous contemporary collection, her digital media division which includes the online style destination, The Zoe Report, and many entrepreneurial endeavors, Rachel has made her own brand of everyday glamour accessible to all. Rachel’s first book, Style A to Zoe, debuted in 2007 and was a New York Times bestseller. Rachel lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Rodger, and her sons, Skyler Morrison and Kaius Jagger.

Learn more about this author