For Fashion Stylist Tracy Shapoff Taking Risks Pays Off in a Big Way

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A career in fashion is a risky venture. Unlike more traditional 9 to 5 jobs, most jobs in fashion don’t have set hours and often you go from gig to gig. If stability and job security is what you are looking for, then fashion may not be for you. Well, not at first!!Risk-taking is a natural state of being for Tracy Shapoff. After achieving as a fashion designer and trend forecaster, Tracy took a huge leap in career trajectory, moving from New York City to Los Angeles in pursuit new career as a fashion stylist. And all the risk-taking and hard work is starting to pay off. And her current appearance on this season of “The Bachelor” is sure to make her rising star shine even brighter.

Tracy Shapoff knows what wants and she’s is willing to do what it takes to get there. Not frightened by the risks and adversities of a creative career, Tracy meets challenges head on with tenacity and perseverance.

Tracy Shapoff sat down with Fashion Reverie and graciously spoke about her life, her passion and her bravery.

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Fashion Reverie: How did you first become interested in fashion?Tracy Shapoff: My grandmother was an incredible designer and seamstress. I learned how to sew from her and there are lots of creative people in my family. I very quickly realized that I had a strong passion for fashion.

FR: How would you describe your personal style? 

Tracy Shapoff: I would say my personal style is clean eclectic. I am kind all over the place. I love being trend forward and taking risks; but that all depends on my personality on a given day. Sometimes, I might wear very clean, crisp clothing that is monochromatic in scope. Other days, I could dress down, and other days I could be really trend. It just depends on what mood I am in. I am also a big theme dresser.

FR: So, you went to Kent State and majored in fashion, why Kent State, and what was that experience like?

Tracy Shapoff: I looked and considered some fashion schools in New York City—FIT and Parsons. However, my grandparents live in Cleveland and my mother had worked for a woman whose daughter attended Kent State. I knew that Kent was an amazing school. And at that time Kent was ranked in the top five when it came to fashion schools.

I wanted to have a complete college experience and I fell in love with Kent State at my first visit to the campus. I knew I would eventually move to NYC to work in fashion.

Kent State is very much a part of a college town, lots of partying, of course. I immersed myself in college life and activities. I joined a sorority while I was at Kent. I was able to study abroad in Florence, Italy because Kent has a campus in Florence. I had so many amazing experiences at Kent State.

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FR: How did the job at Sam Edelman come about?Tracy Shapoff: Prior to working at Sam Edelman, I had done trend forecasting for Kohls in New York City. My first job in NYC was designing for a private licensing company which didn’t pay well. Later, I got the opportunity at Kohls to do trend forecasting. I was there for three years.

I found the opportunity at Sam Edelman online. When I went in for the job interview the job was in retail, which I wasn’t interested in. The interview went so well that I was offered a trial job designing for Sam Edelman.

After only being there a few days, I realized Sam Edelman didn’t really have a fashion design department. I presented a proposal to the company about me creating a design/trend department. They bought the idea, and I ended up being at Sam Edelman for three years.

FR: You switched careers and became a wardrobe stylist. How did that all come about?  

Tracy Shapoff: While working at Sam Edelman I got to go on lots of editorial and magazine shoots that were using the footwear in editorials. I found out how much I loved styling from those opportunities. I knew that I had reached a ceiling at Sam Edelman, and it was time to move on.

I went out to Los Angeles for about a month to figure out if I would like to live there and to see if I could launch my styling career in LA. I researched a bunch of stylists that I loved and reached out to them about working with them as a styling assistant. I got a lot of positive feedback and started my new career from there.

FR: How did you sustain yourself in fashion as you are pursuing this new career in LA?

Tracy Shapoff: I have always been able to fall back on bartending to sustain myself between jobs or to supplement my income. I work a lot of hours between styling fashion jobs and bartending, when I need to. Sometimes, there is a long layover between styling jobs, so I have always been able to supplement my income with other work. Recently, I have had a lot of styling work, so I haven’t had to look outside of fashion for more income. 

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FR: How did you navigate this big career move?Tracy Shapoff: When I first moved to LA I thought I wanted to be a wardrobe stylist in film and television. Once I got to LA, I didn’t have the contacts to land styling work in film and television. So, I reached out to celebrity stylists for assisting work and quickly got work as a styling assistant for celebrities and over time I have acquired my own clients.

I am in a place in my career where I am still building as a fashion stylist, so I take on jobs that pay well and some that don’t pay so well. I am very fortunate to have a great relationship with showrooms and fashion PR firms where I can pull clothes from some of the best designers and brands in Los Angeles.

FR: What shows have you work on as a wardrobe stylist, and which celebrities have you dressed?

Tracy Shapoff: I have worked mainly on reality television as a wardrobe stylist with such shows as MTV’s “Undressed”—which was a dating show—“The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Champions,” and “Baker’s America.” I have dressed Channing Tatum, Gillian Jacobs, Octavia Spencer, Constance Wu, Toni Trucks, Claire Holt, Elizabeth Banks, and Jermaine Fowler, just to name a few.

FR: What has been your best experience as a stylist?

Tracy Shapoff: My best experience was working on the 2018 Golden Globes and getting to dress Dany Garcia whose company, The Garcia Companies produced the “Baywatch,” “Jumangi,” and “Rampage” movies. I was also to witness the Golden Globes red carpet up close and personal. 

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FR: How did “The Bachelor” come about?Tracy Shapoff: I was randomly looking at information on reality television shows and I noticed that “The Bachelor” had an online application for contestants. And I thought, “why not, give this a shot.” I didn’t think anything would come it. I got a call to come in for casting and the rest is history.

FR: Now you have worked mostly behind the scenes, but on “The Bachelor” you are in front of the camera. How was that different? What was that experience like?

Tracy Shapoff: I didn’t think I would like being in front of the camera, but I have to say, I had so much fun on the show. I really enjoyed staying in the house in Los Angeles for the first four episodes. Then I went with Colton to Singapore, and after that I was eliminated.

FR: What was Colton Underwood like, what was your experience of him? 

Tracy Shapoff: He is a sincere and genuine person. I was very comfortable around him from the first time I met him. I wasn’t sure what to expect from him, but I had watched him on his season of “Bachelorette.” He went beyond my expectations. We talked a lot with each other, which you don’t get to see on the show because most of it is edited out. We had a lot of fun together. 

FR: Did Colton pull your heart strings.

Tracy Shapoff: Yes, he did pull a couple of strings.

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FR: What were your expectations of being on” The Bachelor,” and did the show come up to your expectations? Tracy Shapoff: I wasn’t sure what to expect because you could get sent home from the first episode or you could become engaged. I was completely open to whatever happened. I am very ready to be in a long-term, stable relationship. 

Honestly, I had only watched one season of “The Bachelor” and when watching the show, you think that the premise of the show is kind of crazy; however, once you are there is a very different experience. You are spending so much time with each other—which mostly gets edited out—that you really get to know the other person and that is your main motivation. Remember, there is next to no outside stimulation because you are in a cloistered environment and what is actually a few weeks feels like a much longer time span.

FR: Did you get what you wanted or expected?

Tracy Shapoff: I am not sure what I was expecting. That said; I learned things about myself that I did not realize I needed to know. The show opened me up to areas about relationships that I didn’t know I was closed off to. Of course, I would have loved to end up with Colton, but it didn’t happen. But I think “The Bachelor” got me one stop closer to meeting the right guy because I know now what I want and don’t want.

FR: Did being on “The Bachelor” ignite something in you that made you want to be in front of the camera more?

Tracy Shapoff: Not necessarily. I did like being on camera; however, I am very committed to my styling career. I would be open to hosting a fashion television show or being on a show about fashion and style or doing fashion commentary.

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FR: What’s next for you? Tracy Shapoff: Well, “Women Tell All” already premiered. The finale of “The Bachelor” airs on Monday and Tuesday. I would be open to do another “The Bachelor.” Other than that, continuing to work hard as a stylist. I would love to collaborate with a fashion brand, helping to build that brand.

—William S. Gooch

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