It takes bold taste and a keen eye to spot the perfect look for someone you've only just met, but this is exactly what OC stylist and founder of Gladstone Lifestyle & Clothing, Lori Gladstone, does day in and out.
Born and raised in New York City, Gladstone lived and breathed fashion from a young age. During her high school years, she’d sneak into her brother’s closet trying on boyfriend jeans and experimenting with different styles.
“I think New York [offered] invaluable experience just by virtue of the fact that it’s like the center of the world," she says. "Well I think most New Yorkers think that. It’s just everything is in New York and it’s such an important part of the fashion scene that it’s really hard not to just have a competitive advantage over others."
Gladstone studied fashion merchandising and retailing at the reputable NYU as a liberal arts student. While there, she had the unique opportunity of sitting through exclusive lectures from fashion experts like editors of Vogue.
While in college, Gladstone began working with luxury clothing company Linda Richards. She started as a salesperson, but was allowed to wear different hats in the company by being involved in manufacturing, production, sales, and distribution.
“There was no limit to what I was able to do,” says Gladstone. “They said, ‘If you can come up with an idea, just go with it.’”
The experience didn’t end there; she went on to work for a small rep that imported suits from France, selling the lines all over the world. She eventually decided she wanted to move on to big-name showrooms so she interned at DKNY then worked at Calvin Klein.
In the midst of juggling life and fashion, Gladstone decided to make a big change and move to Southern California. The Laguna Beach resident discovered a new, more toned down style that she needed to blend with her East Coast-influenced wardrobe.
“I came to California with designer from head to toe," she says. "All I wore were Gucci shoes, Prada shoes, this and that. My idea of the casual dinner was a black, tailored suit and heels and people looked at me like where are you from?… It took a while for me to really understand Southern California lifestyle and living and I traded in all my shoes for flip-flops from the surf store and I went down the other road. Now I’ve been here 14 years, so I get it.”
Along with a new location came new interests for Gladstone. Once settled in Orange County, the fashionista jumped into serious fitness after being encouraged by a friend to participate in a triathlon. With no experience and her first race five weeks away, she joined a health club and began training intensely every day. She started off by taking part in sprint races, and then decided to challenge herself along the way by hiring different coaches, including an Olympic cycling coach who helped her move up to longer distances.
Five years later, Gladstone has completed three half Ironmans and two full Ironmans. “A lot of people say an Ironman is the microcosm of your whole life because you just go through every emotional state you can and you have really 12 to 13 hours where it’s just you and yourself - you get to know yourself very well,” she says.
Taking part in such extreme races has helped Gladstone overcome fears and gain mental fortitude that crosses over to other parts of her life.
Gladstone, a single mother of an 11-year-old, says she found inspiration to continue with her goals as a fashion maven through taking part in these races: “I think it just empowered me, every time I conquered a fear or challenged myself in a new way it empowered me and that strength just carries with me every day. I mean when I accomplished that Ironman, I felt invincible. There really was not much else I couldn’t do in life.”
The Laguna Beach resident surpassed her own expectations when it came to fitness, and says she cannot imagine it not being a part of her life, but she hopes to shift much of her focus into helping her styling company grow as well.
With her New York edge and background, Gladstone helps her clients experiment with clothes and find their personal style.
“I think of fashion as a vehicle, really to express your identity, your character. I think of fashion as a way to enhance your personality to project your individual style and it’s something I would say is a very personal part of someone’s character with how they put themselves together,” she says.
Gladstone L&C offers various services including style makeovers, personal shopping and gift shopping assistance. Her most popular and favorite service is tied to South Coast Plaza. As part of its styling team, Gladstone is able to rent out the mall’s suite and pull clothes from every store in order to provide her clients with a unique shopping experience.
“A fun experience is to let me spend the day with you. We have a pre-counsel, then I pull all these looks that I think you would like and you just meet me in the access suite at South Coast Plaza and we have drinks and we can have lunch and we just play,” says Gladstone. “You just see what works and what doesn’t. You have shoes, accessories and handbags from the entire mall. And that is just a lovely experience that I think is unique to me as a stylist.”