Ever wonder what it’s like to be a stylist for a very successful corporate company? Today we are interviewing Erin Rittling, Senior Manager of Aerie styling. Read below to learn about the (fun) hustle as a stylist and how to develop the skills to break into the fashion industry.
When you were young, what was your dream job?
To be honest, I wanted to be an actress, which is hilarious now that I have been doing Aerie stylist videos. Two worlds colliding! My grandmother was a dressmaker; she taught me to sew as soon as she trusted me with a needle and thread. Eventually, my love for being on stage transitioned into wanting to design the costumes.
How did you get to where you are today? What were the key steps or relationships that led you here?
I have a master’s degree in Costume Design from Carnegie Mellon. When I was in graduate school, one of our tailors asked me if I would assist her on a job tailoring for an American Eagle photoshoot. The rest is history! Over the last nine years, I have done everything in the American Eagle Photo Studio. I was a tailor for Martin & Osa and a still life stylist for American Eagle, Aerie and 77 Kids. Aerie didn’t have a full time stylist or shoot their product on bodies for the website for the first few years, but as the brand started to grow, they needed someone in-house to manage all of the styling needs. This brand has grown quite a bit over the last five years and I am so proud to be a part of it!
What is your process as a stylist? Do you have a specific creative process that you work through?
Working as a stylist in a corporate environment is probably very different than what some people might expect. It definitely isn’t a free-for-all. At Aerie, we truly work as a team! We have a concept team and design team that deliver amazing product, photo shoot and outfit inspiration each season. We are always keeping an eye on the runways, fashion editorials and cool street style for inspiration. I work very closely with our Design, Merchandising, and Marketing departments to make sure we are creating inspirational outfits for our girls who are cool and casual. We want Aerie Girls to feel stylish and comfortable. She should be able to roll out of bed, throw on her favorite Aerie leggings, then go to the gym or class or brunch and be confident all day that she looks and feels great.
The longer you’ve been in your career, what’s something you’ve realized can’t be taught but must be learned through experience?
There are a lot of very talented people in this world! Getting a foot in the door is sometimes tricky. But I truly believe that hard work with a good attitude is what makes you indispensable. If someone has a bad attitude or thinks they are too good to do the manual labor, people don’t really want to work with them again. You can learn a lot on a job—such as how to fit a garment, etc.—but being ready to roll up your sleeves and dive in makes you a great asset to any team!
How has working for a brand like Aerie changed how you view women and/or yourself?
I think Aerie is creating a space in the industry that helps women start to respect and love their bodies. Changing the way we look at beauty in fashion helps us to see ourselves in a more positive way. When we aren’t obsessing about our bodies we gain so much power! More importantly, I am reminded each day that when we work together as a team and not in competition with each other or aren’t jealous of the bodies, careers and successes of our colleagues, we can create even more. I never hear my colleagues talking negatively about one another behind their backs. I have worked with a lot of different people in my career but what I am most impressed by is the Aerie culture of respect, highlighting one another’s strengths. It is not a show that we put on. Aerie truly practices what we preach. Everyone is beautiful but everyone has more to bring to the table than beauty! We are smart, talented, strong, confident and challenging the status quo. I am so inspired each day by the women AND men I work with. We work hard, we love each other and we respect each other!
As a stylist, what would you like to say to women regarding self-esteem and their unique body type?
Wear what makes you happy! Wear what makes you feel good! Wear confidence as your base layer! I still struggle with self-love just like everyone. For example, I’m bloated all the time. I have no interest in giving up cheese or bread, so I love Aerie leggings. I have developed an “Erin uniform” that everyone knows: a high-rise legging and an oversized shirt. Right now, I’m obsessed with our Aerie Real Soft distressed oversized BF tee. I add a bunch of accessories and great shoes so I can eat as much bread and cheese I desire and then balance it out with a lot of yoga!
This post is brought to you by Darling partner, Aerie. We’re proud to partner with brands that strive to create better, more realistic media for women. All thoughts and opinions remain Darling’s own.
Un-retouched Images provided by Aerie