Meet fashion stylist Tiffany Gifford. You may not know her (yet!), but you definitely know her work.
She’s the talented lady behind-the-scenes who makes stars like Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies, and Thompson Square (just to name a few) look fabulous.
Gifford is at the top of her game, but she didn’t get there overnight. The Texas native’s success story is truly inspiring.
After getting a degree in Early Childhood Education, Gifford did the unthinkable. She decided it wasn’t for her, picked up, moved to New York City, and entered Parsons School of Design where she earned a degree in Fashion Marketing. From there, she began her career as an editorial stylist where she interned at Glamour magazine. The position opened up many opportunities for Gifford, whose next gig was a freelance assistant to a stylist at Marie Claire.
While working with Marie Claire, Gifford also freelanced with groundbreaking stylist Andrea Lieberman, whose impressive list of clients included Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Lopez. It was then that she found her calling. Gifford realized that working in the music industry would give her the artistic freedom she’d been longing for, but she wasn’t ready to break out on her own just yet.
Next, she spent five years as Fashion Editor and Stylist at Condé Nast Traveler magazine where she got to travel the world and attended the coveted Paris Fashion Week every year. While it was “fun,” Gifford admits it was “exhausting.”
When it came time for a change, Gifford knew exactly what she wanted to do a refused to let anything stop her. Her roots brought her South where she landed in Nashville and met with each of the record labels and Country Weekly magazine. Her first Nashville gig was styling Ashton Shepherd for the 2008 CMT Music Awards. She wasn’t able to pursue styling full time until she took a big chance that led her to Miranda Lambert….
CMIL: How did you first get your foot in the door with Miranda Lambert?
TG: Just before the ACM Awards in 2010, I reached out to Tree Paine, as I did every few months. I said, “listen, I am here and if you need any help for wardrobe for any of your artists for the ACMs, let me know.” She was always so sweet about responding to me. She said, “you know I am really trying to take care of Blake Shelton right now.” I was just gonna send clothes blindly to Vegas, which is so not ideal, but at the same time, I wanted to do what I could to get my foot in the door. I sent her pictures and also told her that I would really like to work with Miranda and asked if she knew of any way I could get my foot in the door. She said, “ya know, she really pays attention to what Blake wears, so if you do a great job with Blake, she’ll probably notice.” I figured I should be prepared. I started looking into getting samples for Miranda, just in case.
As an editor, I got probably 200 emails a day of people pitching stuff. I had been emailed by this evening wear brand so I asked them if they offer their samples in sizing for celebrity red carpets. They told me that they had just sold a dress to Miranda Lambert’s manager for the ACM Awards. And they said, “here’s a picture of it,” which is crazy that they’d offer this much information to me because I had never contacted them before. I was like, “that’s so ironic, that’s exactly who I am referring to, I am really trying to work with her right now.” I took one look at the dress and knew it’s not right. It just wasn’t right. So, I tried to Google her manager’s information to try to send an email to her. I had her name, but could not find her contact information. I tried for days. I contacted the evening wear PR company and they actually shared it with me. In my mind, I am thinking, “she already has a dress, so I’ll just pitch accessories.” I emailed Marion, her manager, and pitched accessories and told her I would fly myself to Vegas. We met within a few days and she asked me to draw up a budget based on pulling accessories. They told me they’d give me a shot and they ended up paying for me to come out to Vegas. In my mind, because I didn’t feel right about that dress for her, I ended up bringing a whole bunch of other stuff. She ended up ditching the dress that she bought and wearing four different dresses that night. That night was huge for her. She sang “The House That Built Me” for the first time and won four awards. I had no idea that it was going to be her moment. To have been there at that time…I remember hearing a radio interview that she had done right after that and she said, “I have this new stylist named Tiffany, she’s great, she brings sizes that fit me.” It was such an amazing feeling for me. Her mom, Bev, pulled me aside after and said, “Tiffany, I’m going to tell you, my daughter has never looked better than she did tonight..and I’m a bitch, I’ll tell you if she doesn’t look good.”
Later that night we went to Miranda’s after party. She and her manager told me that they wanted to chat and they said, “So, we want to pay you double what you estimated and we want to hire you for the CMT Awards.” Waterworks. I just started bawling. It was a dream come true. Someone finally gave me the opportunity. I like telling this story because I feel like it’s so inspirational. I come from a very strong faith. I feel like it was God saying, “don’t give up.” I was ready to move back to Houston and give up on styling…and I have been working with her ever since. She’s just a great person and she loves giving people like me opportunities to be successful.
CMIL: That’s a great story! Now that you’re working with her on a regular basis, what do you normally style her for?
TG: I do pretty much everything that she is photographed in. There have been a few editorials that I haven’t done lately. She actually did a spread in “W” magazine last year. That was huge. I was doing back flips when I found out. She’s so funny. She was like, “Tiff is shitting her pants because I am doing ‘W.'” and she didn’t necessarily understand how big of a deal it was. I don’t think any country artist has been put in “W.” I might be speaking out of turn there, but I don’t think it has happened and that’s less commercial than “Vogue.” There’s definitely a huge fashion stamp on that magazine. People really look at it and respect it. They have their own in-house people to do the styling on those shoots. Having worked in the editorial world myself, I obviously realize that generally they want that consistency and they’re not going to pay for someone outside to do something when they’re already paying for someone on staff to do it. She dresses herself on tour, but we do tour shops together.
CMIL: In the beginning of her career, Miranda was usually sporting a tank top, jeans, and boots. How would you say her style has evolved over the years?
TG: I think that that’s certainly who she is. When you get down to it, she definitely would one hundred percent want to be wearing jeans, tank tops, and boots for sure. I think that we’ve honed in on the ability to glam it up a little bit. Certainly on red carpets and things of that nature, we really have changed things and made it super glam. Is that her every day thing? No way. I don’t think there’s anything she’d probably rather not do that sit in the chair for two hours and get hair and makeup. There’s just a million things she’d rather be doing. She’s great though. She’s willing to try anything. I actually did her last album and got her to put on a suede bathing suit. She was cursing me the entire time. We wore it as a top with jeans, but it was a body suit, suede, in the desert, in July. It was like a hundred and ten degrees and she was having to put on leather. She was not pleased about it, but she’ll try anything. She’s just great to work with because she knows exactly who she is which makes my job a lot easier.
CMIL: People have definitely started to notice Miranda’s fashion evolution. How does it feel to have played a role in that?
TG: When I first started working with Miranda there were a lot of people in the editorial world and in the fashion world that did not know who she was. Certainly, I’m not saying that’s all because of me. Clearly it’s because of how talented she’s been and successful she’s been for the last three years and a team effort, but she is getting exposure that she wasn’t getting before. We’ve been on a few of these best dressed lists every Grammys she’s been to. That’s eight slots, across all genres. In my world, that’s a big deal. That’s a really big deal. It’s something I’m really proud of.
CMIL: If you had to pick, which of Miranda’s red carpet looks would be your favorite?
TG: One of my favorites definitely was at last year’s Grammys. We did a Roberto Cavalli navy gown and I think it just looked gorgeous on her. I was obsessed with her jewelry too. I know her personal favorite is the first time I ever dressed her. It was a Pamella Roland it was the first time she ever wore a deep V and everyone was like jaw dropping. It was a light blue and it had a skinny paillettes and capped sleeves. That was probably one of my favorites also because it was the very first time I worked with her.
CMIL: What promoted you to expand your country clients beyond just Miranda?
TG: As a freelance stylist, you just never know. Miranda could decide to take a year off. Anything could happen. Since I’m a freelancer, I always want to make sure that I’m prepared and have other things going on. Miranda will always be a priority for me for obvious reasons. I do as much as I’m able to take on. I have assistants that help me sustain all of that. I also have an assistant that travels with me to the award shows. Last year for CMAs, I did Miranda, Thompson Square, Gwen Sebastian, and Katie Armiger. We usually divide and conquer.
CMIL: Since the CMA’s are upon us, can you tell us what you think we’ll see a lot of on the red carpet this year? Maybe some trends to look out for?
TG: In terms of what we may see on the carpet this year – I feel like we will see a lot of bold colors and a lot of black and white. Black and white has been a huge trend on the runways for the last 2 season, so I think that will definitely spill over onto the carpet. Also, bold colors are something I definitely see and you might even see a few of my clients in some showstopping colors!
To learn more about Tiffany Gifford and her work, visit her official website…and be sure to tune in to ‘The 47th Annual CMA Awards” to see her work!