Tag Archives: Courtney Rust Chicago

Gold Motel – Chicago Magazine

22 Feb

Here’s a recent portrait I styled with photographer, Brian Kuhlmann of Chicago’s own Gold Motel.  I’m usually not a big fan of using black because it creates a hole in the frame, but when you’re working in an old bank vault with walls of gold safety boxes, black is your friend, especially some good ol’ black leather (singer’s dress, although you can’t really tell.  It looked AMAZING on her!  Dress is by Elizabeth and James.)

Hair and make up done by the great Carley Martin.

Check out Gold Motel’s summer time jams, HERE.

My 5 Year Goal

17 Feb

I’m always amazed at what people can get away with when they’re really good at something.  For instance, I had got a reservation for my husband as a Christmas gift to go to the impossible to get into restaurant, Schwa.  The reason why it is so hard to score a reservation is not only because of chef Michael Carlson’s legacy for being a mind blowing amazing cook, but also because he’s a terrible business man.  When you call, there is about a 95% chance you’re going to get a voice mail box telling you it can no longer take messages because it is full.  If for some crazy reason you’re able to get someone on the phone and make a reservation, there is about a 95% chance they’ll cancel on you and make you reschedule.  This not only happened to me once, but TWICE!  The thing was, I wasn’t mad, because I understood it was part of the experience.  As much as his cooking, his otherwise known to be shoddy behavior, is part of his claim to fame.  Chef Carlson will only open if everything is absolutely perfect and he can present his best work to his guests.  Dang, I wish I could get away with that… I’ve worked while having food poisoning.

Next case and point, I recently got to wardrobe style for probably the most well known photographer I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with thus far.  I went to look at his website prior to the shoot, as I always do even though I’m very familiar with his work, to find that there isn’t one single image on his website, just a bunch of contact numbers to his agents.  Now that’s when you know you have made it; a photographer that doesn’t need to show any pictures.  “You know what I do,” must be a pretty comfortable place to reside.  He doesn’t need a website because you can see his work everywhere.  Awesome.

Last example and one you’re all familiar with; the artist formerly known as Prince.  Shit, screw names.  I’ll have an ugly tattoo represent me.  I don’t need to explain why this is amazing.

Now for my goal, and feel free to contact me if you’d like to collaborate on this.  I want a portfolio exclusively consisting of “real” people, butt ass naked, posing with no props, on a white sweep.  Use your imagination people.  Let my legacy as a wardrobe and prop stylist paint the picture for you.*  If you want to book me, you’ll have to get my address off of my contact page because I now only accept letters.  My 3rd grade dream can now be fulfilled of having the most pen pals.

*I feel I need a disclaimer out of fear for those who may read this that don’t already know my sarcasm.

Personal Shopper Confusion.

6 Feb

A weird thing happened the other day; I was parked outside of Target at the beginning of a hefty return day, pulling out a couple of Ikea bags and a woman stopped me and asked, “Are you a designer?”  I did a shady, “Um, uh… no,” without making any eye contact.  I then proceeded to do my routine return and the woman followed me in while accompanying me during my awkward moment at the customer service desk and said, “Have you ever thought about personal shopping?  I’m a really busy mom who’s also a massage therapist who would love to have someone shop for me.”  To be honest, there were a number of asshole responses that ran through my head.  First, and probably the least offensive, “I’m a busy wardrobe stylist that would also love to have someone do my ‘shopping.'”

I feel like I should first preface my explanation as to how my job is different, and why I would never be a personal shopper by saying, I have absolutely nothing against being a personal shopper nor do I think I’m better than someone who is a personal shopper/closet organizer type.  It’s a great career that I’m sure is challenging, and allows you to make people feel good about themselves and their surroundings.  Here’s how my job is different and why I wouldn’t take on personal shopping/closet organizer onto my roster.  I do what I do, not because I like to shop, not because I like to see the people surrounding me in clothes that they’ve worn within the last six months from their perfectly edited and sensible closet, and not because I feel like I need to fix the sometimes sensitive to the eye outfits I see on a daily basis.  I actually enjoy a hoarder, a wrinkle, an outdated capelet from Ann Taylor, and a pair of cargo pants that with a tug of a zipper becomes a breathable pair of shorts.  It’s telling of your personality, and it tells a little story, which brings me to the reason of why I spend a crazy amount of time filling my car with things from shopping establishments… I like to tell a story.

The reason why some stylists do both on set work and personal shopping is that styling is a mix of traits that lend itself to personal shopping; knowledge of everything current in every single stores, resourcefulness, ability to listen to your client to make a strong guess as to what they might like, knowing what is in style and works for someone’s body, and working within a budget.  Why being a set and wardrobe stylist is different is that you’re one single part of big team.   You’re shopping for the agency, the client, and the photographer, as well as all the variables you might run into on set, which will likely change  your original intentions.  What works in person, or what we thought worked during the pre-production conference call may not hold true once you’re on set, which in the end is the bottom line.  It all has to make sense and tell the intended agency and client’s story.  It’s a much different mind set when shopping; one that I personally think is tough to mix with a personal shopping client, or even my own shopping list.   Therefore, please e-mail me if you want to pick up my dog’s food.

Which wardrobe/and or prop stylist should I contact to assist?

20 Jan

Some people may disagree with me on this, but I personally don’t think you should be choosey on what wardrobe and/or prop stylists you want to assist.  You can learn from everyone, even if you think someone isn’t as talented or has a different personality.  Sometimes learning what not to do is just as valuable as learning the seemingly right way to do things.  It is best to team up with as many stylists as you can in order to pick up as many different techniques as possible.  We all do it a little differently.

More testing…

29 Jul

Photographed by the super awesome Brian Kuhlmann.  Hair and make up by the amazingly talented Karen Lynn.

Wardrobe and props by yours truly, Courtney Rust.

Guestimating sizes for models and talent

10 Jun

In a perfect world, you’d always have the models’ and talents’ sizes before you hit the streets and shop, but there are times where you have to prep without them and follow your gut to guess sizes properly.  In this case, I bracket and buy two of everything (sometimes three), to only look a little crazier to the sales clerk when checking out.  Here’s my go-to guide to guessing sizes.  It hasn’t failed me yet.


Male: Shirt- Medium and Large, Pant- 32×34 and 34×34, Jacket – 40L and 42R, Dress Shirt, 16 x34/35 and 17 x 34/35, Shoe – 10 and 12

Female: Dress – 2 and 4, Pant- 2 and 4, Shoe – 7.5 and 9.5

Real Talent

Male:  Shirt- Medium, Large and XL, Pant- 32×32 and 34×34, Jacket 40R, 42R and 44R, Dress Shirt, 16 x 34/35 and 17 x 34/35, Shoe – 10 and 12

Female: Dress – 4 and 6, Pant – 4 and 6, Shoe – 7.5 and 9.5

The Cuteness Factor

2 Jun

A stylist’s cuteness expertise does not play into why they pick certain wardrobe for a shot or scene.  If it was just a matter of things being cute, you would hire a cuteness expert.  I imagine this person only wears pink, gets really excited over the bi-annual Victoria Secret sale, and/or smells like a freshly bathed puppy.  Sure, I like cute clothing just as much as the next person, but that’s not my focus when making selections.  In fact, it’s rarely about the overall consensus of what’s the cutest item on the rack.  Deciding factors include how the item works in its environment, how it works with the other model’s wardrobe selects, how it plays into the overall direction of the story being told, and whether or not it compliments the product.  The cuteness, in my eyes, happens as a result of all the factors previously mentioned working together.


Maria’s Packaged Goods – Time Out Chicago

12 May

A big thanks to the super awesome photographer, Dave Rentauskas for asking me to style this entrepreneurial family who own the bar/liquor store, Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar.  Ed Marszewski, the creative engine behind the bar, a couple of art zines, and one of the coolest art spaces in town, Co-Prosperity Sphere, was chosen as Time Out’s Chip Off the Old Block.  The kicker behind this shoot was that we couldn’t tell the family why we were photographing them AND I was directed to dress them in matching outfits.  The challenge was to not make them feel like the Partridge family and finding wardrobe that still made them look like the hip people they are, while keeping the art director’s wishes.  They were great sports, easy to photograph, and in the end look like a band I’d want to be  part of.  If you haven’t visited Marias Packaged Goods in Beverly, I highly suggest you do so.  Killer Manhattans.