From Maywood To Hollywood–Stylist Gen Bell Sits Down With Cindy Pearlman Of The Sun-Times

February 6, 2014 || Cindy Pearlman || Get In Touch Blog || Chicago Sun-Times

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Gen Bell

Before she was working on productions for Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, Gen Bell was just a stylish kid at Proviso East High school.

“Yeah, now that I think about it, I was really stylish. My parents made sure I kept up with the latest trends and fashion styles,” says Bell. “The only problem was I never really felt inclined to follow the trends.”

So what was she wearing?

Bell laughs. “In high school, I was that girl in the striped shirt and red pants. I did the plaid shirts before they were back in. There were a few horrible mistakes along the way,” she admits.”

No matter, now that she’s one of Hollywood’s top stylists with a growing celebrity client list.

Q: What horrible mistakes did you make as a teenager growing up in Maywood?
A: There was a time in the late ’90s when baggy pants were in. I did participate in that fashion trend and now I regret it. Terrible!

Q: Let’s talk a bit about spring fashions, because we need something to brighten up a snowy day. Should we ditch the all-black look soon?

A: Absolutely no to all black. I’m from Chicago and I know how easy it is to fall into your all-black rut. Start buying some brights like lavender or fuchsia for all. Even try yellow. Those colors are going to be huge this spring. It’s all about happy colors. You don’t have to invest a lot of money. I love H & M because they are getting all the vibrant colors.

Q: What are other spring “must have” purchases?

A: I would definitely add some comfortable, beautiful flats. You can get them from DSW. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. I’d also invest in a couple of great blazers for the transition, but buy one in yellow. I just got an aqua color. You can also get skirts in all shapes and some peplum blouses to add some variation to your wardrobe. Everyone should have some great pearls and a handbag that they love.

Q: What is your favorite skirt type for spring?

A: It’s all about getting a skirt that fits. I can’t do mini-skirts, so I have skirts that are just above my knee. Or try a flared skirt that goes out just above the knee. They have a lot of skirts in cotton fabrics at American Apparel. Remember short skirts are not for everyone. If you feel uncomfortable and are always tugging your skirt and trying to pull it down, then go a little longer. If you want total honesty have someone take a picture of you in that outfit. Does it really look good? It’s a great test.

Q: What do you expect to see at the Academy Awards this year?

A: I think we’ll see some whimsical dresses along with some stunning gowns. With awards shows, I think less is more. Keep it simple. If you have a big event in your life, do a color that really fits your personality and makes you stand out. You don’t need too many adornments.”

Q: Who do you think will be the Oscar standout when it comes to fashion?

A: Lupito Nyong’o is killing it! She keeps it simple.

Q: Tell us about working with Jennifer Lopez.

A: I worked with her on her recent music video for “Live It Up.” She is a lot of fun and has great energy. She’s also a really nice person and a very hardworking woman. She was the first person to the set in the morning and the last one on the set at night. She always looked amazing even with no makeup on. She is radiant. Good skin is the best accessory, then you don’t have to cake your makeup on. Jennifer Lopez has that great skin. She also looks good in everything from a gown to a T-shirt.

Q: How do you become a top stylist?

A: I was born and raised in Maywood, and I guess I started styling people in high school. I would style all of my friends and everyone said, “You should do this for a living.” It dawned on me that everyone doesn’t have a friend who helps them get dressed. Then I realized that you could actually get paid to do this for a living.

Q: But didn’t you almost go to medical school?

A: I went to UIC to study to be a pharmacist because my dad thought that would be a good move for me. It wasn’t for me, so I became a flight attendant for six months. Then I got a job in Miami working for the government. I overheard a woman talk about a career in styling and I asked her to coach me. She did and helped me get started. Basically, I helped her do a few photo shoots and she helped me learn how to put looks together for them.

Q: What is a stylist’s secret weapon when it comes to finding clothes that not everyone has?

A: When I lived in Chicago, I would go to all the thrift stores. I still love them. You can find amazing pieces there. So often, I’ll find the greatest dress or jacket and say, “I can’t believe someone got rid of this!” VFP

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