Joe Zee may be one of the busiest men in fashion. In addition to being the creative director of Elle magazine, he’s also an in-demand stylist for celebrities and ad campaigns and the star of All on the Line with Joe Zee, the fashion-rescue series on the Sundance Channel, which begins its second season on Nov. 25. While he’s based in New York, Zee’s hectic schedule means he spends many hours in the air, and he says he “only flies American.” So naturally, we had to have a chat with the Executive Platinum flier about personal style, travel and how he earned the “nicest guy in fashion” moniker.
American Way: How do you dress to travel?
Joe Zee: My friends accuse me of being a comfortable nerd. I am on a plane so much, I have a routine: J.Crew jeans (no belt), T-shirt, sweatshirt and high-top sneakers (laces undone). Makes security easy and allows for comfort traveling. I did always wish I could be that Mad Men–type of guy and travel wrinkle-free in a suit, but that’s just not me.
AW: What are the three things every woman should always pack for a trip that involves business but also free time?
JZ: The little black dress is a lifesaver. Go for one in jersey and maybe a wrap style. It works for meetings, casual moments or even a night out. Pack a pair of ballet flats and simple heels, and the dress will work either way. [Also] roll the dress and put it in your carry-on, so if your bag is lost, you’ll always have this dress.
AW: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to dressing?
JZ: The biggest mistake I would say is fit. So many times — and I see this with both men and women — clothes just do not fit properly. Shoulders on jackets are droopy, suit pants are too baggy or sleeves are too long. For women, hemlines are a big issue. Wearing the right length can automatically make you look and feel taller. A proper fit is an easy fix that almost any dry cleaner can do.
AW: Any favorite, under-the-radar stores you recommend we check out?
JZ: Some shops I love include the Webster in Miami, Confederacy and Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles, and Odin in New York.
AW: Finally, you’ve been called one of the nicest guys in fashion. How do you manage to keep it real in an admittedly crazy industry?
JZ: I think I am who I am. I can see the value and excitement of fashion, but there is so much going on around me — and I never lose sight of that. I’m influenced by so many different things, and I love that. Otherwise, you live in a bubble, and you forget about the outside world. Plus, I can be tough when I need to be.