Putting Together A Cute Outfit Doesn’t Mean You Have What It Takes To Make It In Fashion, Says Stylist Chris Rivera

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Christopher Rivera of Gold and Guns has taken a long road to get to where he is today. From reverse gender discrimination in the work place, to questioning himself and his goals, in our interview he provided us with a wise look at the fashion and entertainment industry from the perspective of a veteran stylist and blogger. He didn’t shy away from dishing on hitting rock bottom, on why you might not have what it takes to make it in fashion, and what is wrong with the blogosphere today, but even his most hard hitting comments were followed up with a giggle and smile, the same signature humor that he writes his blog with. Read on for wisdom, insight, and plenty of laughs.

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On Getting His Start: I got my start in fashion in high school. I took some photography classes as an elective at my high school in LA and also took some graphic design classes after school at Art Center of Pasadena. Whenever I had photo essays, photo assignments to do I would always do something fashion related. I would want to mimic what I saw in magazines, or, this is kind of embarrassing, what I would see on America’s Next Top Model, because that was still cool back in the day. From there, I realized it was what I wanted to do, so I went to USC and I studied photography and graphic design. I still love it, but it’s a little too stressful to do on a day to day basis. Styling was a happy medium, where I still get to practice my photography skills now and then. I’ve loved it ever since. 

“To survive in the fashion industry, you need to be able to do more than just put an outfit together.”

On Being A Guy In Fashion: Looking back at when I was in high school and starting college (I’m kind of laughing as I’m saying this because it’s like “I’m so old”, but actually I’m only 26) it was a little harder to make it. There is this misconception that guys don’t have what it takes to work in fashion. When I started I remember I was always the one guy in a room full of 12, 15 girls. My bosses thought I didn’t have knowledge of the industry, or I wouldn’t understand trends and what flatters the female body because I’m a guy. My fellow interns and coworkers were just pretty girls who loved to shop and could put a cute outfit together, when in reality to survive in the fashion industry you need to be able to do more than just put an outfit together. You need to know your skills, your shit, you need to know the names of editors, creative directors, photographers, you have to know brief histories of all the major fashion houses and most importantly how to pronounce designer names! I’ve had to constantly prove I’m not just some dude whose bored, or just wants to be around pretty girls. I’m not even into girls!

On Blogging: When I started my blog it was the same way. Female style bloggers are a dime a dozen, and I thought that there weren’t enough guys in the blogosphere. The few male style bloggers were showcasing too much women’s clothing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with experimenting with your fashion sense, and that androgynous thing is really trendy right now. But for me and my guy friends that’s not very relatable.

With my own blog, I try to make it fun to read and try to mix pieces. If there’s something very high end, I’ll pair it with a piece from, say, J Crew. I try to make it maintainable. It’s helped in that sense with my business. And most of all I try to get across from my blog that I’m a stylist, I’ve been doing this for years and years. Often blogs are just run by beautiful shopping addicts with tons of extra money. I like to showcase my own style tips, and also write it with my signature sass and crass humor, because it’s fun. It’s a serious job, but at the end of the day it’s for fun! 

A lot of bloggers who have really made it and begun climbing the latter of success kind of act like their $hit doesn’t stink. Because it takes hard work, but if you’re lucky or good looking that helps a lot, or you just know how to spend money on expensive clothing. Three years ago, blogging was much more humble, now a lot of bloggers feel very entitled. At the end of the day, as long as you’re sweet, that helps. Manners matter.

I came to this realization that a huge aspect of blogging is social media. One of my girlfriends, who is a huge fashion aficionado (but again, she works investment banking, she just likes to shop) sent me a screenshot of an Instagram photo, asking me to help her find a certain pair of sunglasses that she had been searching for and couldn’t find anywhere. I went to the girl’s blog, and the sunglasses were in the first post! When I told my friend, she said “I don’t even read the blog, I just follow it on social media.” That’s when I realized most bloggers now are just all about social media, Twitter, Facebook, and now Snapchat! 

“I’m not curing cancer. This is just about clothes.”

On Getting Yourself Out Of A Downward Spiral: I don’t talk about this often because it was kind of a bad nine months when I took a break from styling. I was fresh out of college, doing freelance here and there. I don’t hesitate to say I was being very lazy about it. I was expecting work to just come to me through word of mouth or through contacts I had met at my past internships and positions. Six or eight months after graduation I was like “screw this” and decided to look for something more corporate. I took a job in PR as an account coordinator at a firm in West Hollywood. I HATED it. I was working my a$$ off, staying in the office till ten or eleven at night, and there were a lot of days that I would think “What am I doing? I don’t love this.” I was doing nothing but pushing papers and sending emails. I missed styling. When we would work with fashion and jewelry clients, stylists would come in and tell me about their great projects. It made me remember how fun the job was.

I finally thought, “Okay. If I quit and go back to styling, I need to be proactive about it. I need to be in contact with everyone I know and get myself jobs.” I was able to admit to myself that I was doing it wrong before, and that’s what landed me in this shitty position. I bit the bullet, put in my two weeks, and had the idea of starting a blog as well to showcase my talent and garner attention to the work I’ve been doing. I had found myself in a downward spiral, but I picked myself up again and turned it around. Since that, I’ve been so much happier. Life is a constant circle, and when you break down you will rise back up and hit a high point. I even try to remind myself of that whenever I have a hard day on set, or I’m dealing with a horrible client. I always tell myself, “I’m not curing cancer. This is just about clothes”. I think there’s not many people who have adopted that sense of humor yet for this industry.

Even though my time at that job was a low point, it was also a blessing because I made a lot of friends there that I kept in touch with after leaving. We still work and collaborate together, so it has opened a lot of doors. Keep your eyes open, because you never know what’s gonna happen in two or three months.

On Giving Up: When I first decided to study photography and graphic design in college, I just thought “oh my gosh, am I gonna be living out of a cardboard box?” The arts and entertainment industries are tough to get into, and it’s a really scary situation. But just work hard, know your stuff, and pursue it. You’ll get there. 

But on the other hand, in these industries you either have it or you don’t. I don’t want to sound mean, but sometimes I come across an individual who I’m sort of like “honey, maybe you should just go into the corporate world and give up.” If you’re that person, you’ll know. And if you find yourself producing some good work and getting positive feedback and praise, just keep pushing yourself and you will reach your goals. If you want to give up, don’t give up!

On Role Models: Having a role model helps, because sometimes you can get lost in doing something like this and trying to find your own path. It helps to have someone to look up to, who has had a career in the public eye, and you can look to them to see their ups and downs, and how they picked themselves up when they are down. But I also think you shouldn’t look at your role models so closely. At the end of the day, you need to take the right path for yourself. You can’t be exactly like them. You gotta figure out your own place, write your own book.

On why 2015 will be the best year ever: 2015 is a big year for me. I think it’s a big year for everyone. Since New Years Eve I’ve felt this way. One huge thing I’m hoping for is to be on the Hollywood Reporter’s top 25 stylist list. Well, actually that’s my five year goal: I want to be on the list by the time I’m 30.

As told to Stephanie Janetos

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