Jet-setting ISU graduate sets off as personal stylist

Q&A With Celebrity Stylist Cassy Dittmer

Cassy Dittmer, an apparel, merchandising and design graduate, now lives in Los Angeles but is constantly jet-setting around the country for styling jobs.

Since Iowa State, Dittmer has worked under a celebrity stylist and recently took the leap to go off on her own. Now she gets to pick the who, when, where and how for all of her styling. She shared with us her clients, memories and favorite styles.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.

A: I grew up in Iowa and am a proud graduate of Iowa State.

I am definitely a travel, adventure and adrenaline junkie. A couple days after I graduated, I moved to Los Angeles and have been here ever since.

I am a celebrity and red carpet stylist, which basically means I dress people for award shows, premieres, press tours, music videos, etc. Sometimes I say I’m a middle man between designers and the talent. I help connect people to brands that work for them.

Q: What is your favorite Iowa State memory?

A: My favorite memory is being a design director for the Fashion Show. It’s something I still talk about today. I’ve worked at many New York Fashion Week shows and I still think the AEHSM department runs a stellar and professional production. It was a truly amazing experience as a student and some of my best work experience.

Q: What did you learn from your internships?

A: It’s really important to have internships and jobs that are well-rounded and in different areas of the industry. Knowing what you don’t want to do is just as important as knowing what you want to do. I remember being at Diane von Furstenberg and thinking how numbers-focused the merchandising department was. I was not into that at all, and it definitely led me to a more creative path.

Studying abroad at London College of Fashion was also a major eye-opening experience for me. That helped break me out of my shell and was a unique experience I couldn’t have had in Ames.

Q: At what age did you start becoming interested in fashion?

A: I remember being interested in fashion at a very young age. My mom has always been my inspiration. Fashion discussion was a normal part of my childhood. She always challenged me to wear things that made me feel individualized, happy and confident. She’s a lot cooler than I am. I’m pretty sure she’s the only person in Muscatine, Iowa, who is watching runway shows and following fashion news daily.

Q: What does a typical day look for like you?

A: Part of why I love what I do is because my day is never the same. I wake up around 6 a.m. and answer some emails from New York or Europe. I live in Venice Beach and am a stubborn west-sider, so I commute to West Hollywood most days, where most showrooms and shops are, and that’s where I am pulling clothes for clients.

Sometimes in there I will have a fitting with a client and will try to be getting returns done as well. My car and I are best friends. I try to finish up my day around 7 p.m., but it’s normally unpredictable.

Q: What was a defining moment in your career?

A: A defining moment for me has definitely been my transition to becoming self-employed. Clients and their teams start looking at you in a different light when you aren’t the assistant anymore. It’s important to put in the time and work under people who are very talented, but when it’s time to go, you have to jump.

Q: Tell us about your experience styling celebrities.

A: I have been fortunate enough to work for a stylist that has a lot of clients. I’ve worked with so many people: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Ty Burrell, Richard Armitage, Joel Edgerton, Donald Glover, Krysten Ritter, Laura Dern, Leighton Meester, Joel Kinnaman, Dane Cook, Dan Stevens, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, James Marsden, Kevin Costner, Lizzy Caplan, Nina Dobrev, Shailene Woodley and quite a few more that are escaping me right now.

Lady Antebellum is probably the client I work with the most. They have me working for them in Nashville all the time.

Q: Being a celebrity stylist and personal shopper sounds like a dream job. Is it just as fabulous as anyone would expect?

A: I don’t think there is a single job out there that is as glamorous as people think. If it was easy and fabulous, then more people would probably be doing it. Your schedule is crazy, unpredictable, and, normally, not up to you.

I love getting to work with talented and interesting people. Making them feel confident and well dressed when they walk out the door and onto the carpet or stage is always a fun rush. I am writing this interview as I sit next to Billy Ray Cyrus on a flight from Los Angeles to Nashville. I’m on this flight a lot and I think he is too. Moments like that happen sometimes, and it reminds me that my job is pretty cool.

Q: How would you describe your personal aesthetic?

A: My personal style is a little all over the place. Some days I’m a sneaker and T-shirt girl, and sometimes I’m much more polished. I would say my style is pretty edgy, trendy and constantly evolving. I love street style and not scared to be a little out there.

Q: What styling advice would you give to other women?

A: Invest in good pieces and don’t get too caught up buying fast fashion. Buy better and less. Try to start buying brands that are more eco-friendly and don’t have such a harsh impact on the environment. Information is so readily available now that we have a responsibility to influence in ways that are better for everyone.

There are so many good brands now that are really focused on quality people and products. Challenge yourself to work toward using good brands. Also, fit is everything. If it doesn’t fit properly, tailor it or get rid of it.

Q: What’s your proudest moment of your career and why?

A: My proudest moment has been going out on my own. It was such a leap of faith and is super risky. People talk about doing it all the time but don’t always act on it. I pride myself on follow-through of actions. I haven’t had a day off yet, so I think it’s going to work itself out.

Q: What do you foresee in the future of your career?

A: I would love to be able to eventually design. I’m working on a documentary right now about Stockholm Fashion Week.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to up-and-coming fashion stylists?

A: Work hard and show up every day. Being from the Midwest does not always give you the most street cred in the fashion world. That doesn’t really matter in the end. You will eventually earn it by out-working everyone else. Also, I can’t stress enough that the most important thing is to make sure you are styling for the right reasons.

Keep yourself in check. If you just want to be surrounded by famous people and be in a cool scene, you won’t make it very far. You need to truly love the work and have the right intentions. That’s how you end up booking the good jobs. Famous people, they’re just like us, right?

Q: What helps keep you inspired?

A: I am very inspired by street style and bloggers. I love following all the photographers at fashion weeks. Phil Oh is a legend. That’s where the pulse is. It’s also important to find inspiration not just in fashion. LA is an amazing city to live in for that reason. There is always a new art exhibit, band or feat of architecture right around the corner. Always someone or something to be inspired by. I am such a nerd and write everything down. A color, song, pattern, anything that evoked some sort of feeling. I will go back through my notes all the time and re-inspire myself.

Q: Who’s your style icon?

A: I love that supermodel fashion is happening again. I’m into the whole off-duty model vibe. Kendall and Gigi can do no wrong. They are always flawless.

Q: If you could have anyone else’s closet in the world, who would it be and why?

A: Even though we don’t necessarily have similar style, I would love to have Kate Middleton’s closet. All of the history and heritage in her clothing she wears is incredible and fascinating to me. I think in another life I was as polished as she is.

Q: Favorite place you’ve traveled?

A: Indonesia! Now if I fall off the grid, you know where to find me. Some of the most beautiful, untouched islands I have ever seen. The scuba, people and textiles are all next level. I love traveling to remote parts of the world. You have your whole life to go to Paris.

For more of her style and aesthetic inspiration, follow Cassy on instagram: @cdittmer.