How Toronto native Jessica de Ruiter became a stylist to the stars

The down-to-earth mom (and this month’s Ms. Chatelaine) gives us a peek into her laid-back L.A. life — plus a few coveted fashion tips from the top!

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Jessica in the kitchen with her daughter, James. The drawing on the wall is by Canadian artist Michael Snow; Photo by Jed Lind

Jessica in the kitchen with her daughter, James. The drawing on the wall is by Canadian artist Michael Snow; Photo by Jed Lind

It’s a good day for a fashion stylist when the Olsen twins come calling. But when the designer sisters invite you to star in an ad for Superga, the iconic Italian shoe company they oversee as creative directors — well, that’s a career milestone. Just ask Jessica de Ruiter, the Canadian expat who’s front and centre in Superga’s new “If These Shoes Could Talk” campaign. “It was flattering,” says Jessica. “I think the Olsens have fantastic taste!”

It’s easy to see why Mary-Kate and Ashley are so taken with the in-demand stylist, who decamped to L.A. more than a decade ago when her partner (now husband), artist Jed Lind, left Toronto to pursue a master of fine arts degree. With her sun-kissed locks and effortlessly chic style, this Canadian embodies the quintessential California-girl vibe. To see Jessica on a Sunday morning wandering among the veggie stalls at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, her hubby and two-year-old daughter, James, in tow, you’d never know she hasn’t always been a local.

Jessica honed her fashion chops working in editorial in the West Coast offices of Women’s Wear Daily, W and Vogue before heading to New York to take a job at Teen Vogue as accessories market editor. “In New York, it’s all fashion, all the time,” she says. “I missed the balance in my life that I had living in Los Angeles.” So she decided to become a freelance stylist and return to California, a locale more in line with her elegant, less-is-more esthetic.

Jessica's shoe collection reflects her pared-down aesthetic; Photo by Jed Lind

Jessica’s shoe collection reflects her pared-down aesthetic; Photo by Jed Lind

“I like to keep a well-edited closet,” says Jessica, whose wardrobe is a crisp sea of button-down shirts and other classic silhouettes. Her tip for culling your clothes? “If you don’t instantly love and want to wear it when you see it, then get rid of it.”

Like all working mothers, Jessica walks a tightrope, balancing the needs of her A-list clientele (she’s dressed everyone from Zooey Deschanel to Sissy Spacek) and her young family, which she hopes will include another little one soon. “Part of what I love about living in L.A. is getting to go to those fabulous events that mix fashion and Hollywood,” says Jessica. “But as soon as I’m home, I’m in my sweatpants — I love my heather-grey Roots ones best!” she says, her Canadian pride in full effect.

Jessica’s place is the perfect spot to lounge about too. Designed by renowned mid-century architect Gregory Ain, the gorgeous, sleek home was built for an artist. “I love the studio where she used to paint,” says Jessica. “It has these huge windows and great light.”

Jessica adores their set-up in the über-hip Silver Lake ’hood just east of Hollywood (between the vintage kilims, family heirlooms and art acquired from Jed’s creative pals, what’s not to love?). But she can’t shake the pull of the Great White North. “If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you we’ll definitely move back,” she says, laughing. “That was always the plan. But I really like L.A. I’m trying to get my mom to move down here from Toronto, so then it’s easier to stay.”

Jessica in her light-filled living room, built as an artist's studio; Photo by Darcy Hemley

Jessica in her light-filled living room, built as an artist’s studio; Photo by Darcy Hemley

Jessica’s telling details:

My proudest moment was… the birth of my daughter.

I define downtime as… lying poolside in the sun.

I wish I had more time for… reading and cooking.

My favourite quote is… “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.” —Gore Vidal

I wish I was better at… tennis.

My favourite moment of the day is… 6 a.m., when everything is still quiet and fresh.

My perfect day would be… at the beach.

I describe my fashion sense as… feminine/masculine.

Becoming a mom has taught me… patience and grace.

Five things Jessica can’t live without:

1. Fresh flowers: “Lily of the valley, peonies, dogwood or any blossoming branches.”

2. John Masters shampoo and conditioner: “It’s all natural, it really works and it looks pretty in my bathroom.”

3. Au Lit Fine Linens: “It’s a Canadian company, and the white cotton sheets are perfect.”

4. Acne Needle jeans: “I always have a black pair in my closet. I love that they’re high-waisted — much more flattering than low-rise.”

5. Eres bikinis: “They’re expensive but last forever and are so flattering. I like to mix and match the tops and bottoms.”

Best shopping in L.A.:

1. Barneys: “No explanation needed.”

2. Lost & Found: “This Hollywood shop is actually five small storefronts in a row each specializing in one category of women’s, men’s, house wares, kids, accessories. I always a find something special and unique at this off-the-beaten path boutique.”

3. Mr. Freedom: “Amazing, rare vintage denim, cotton sweatshirts and work wear.”

4. Isabel Marant: “Her new space on Melrose Place is inspiring from an interiors standpoint and the clothes are of course a favourite. I live in her T-shirts, sweaters and jackets.”