Reality show stardom is not the easy road to mainstream success. The genre, with its catfighting and, in the early years, bug eating, is seen by some as the bottom of the barrel when it comes to talent searches. Even the use of the word “star” in relation to reality TV makes me chuckle just a little inside.
That being said, a handful of reality alum have segued into other projects and, as a result, broader success. Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes popped up on scripted TV this season, fellow Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel is in a bit of a rough patch but has seen success beyond what many of us imagined, and Lauren Conrad of Laguna Beach/The Hills fame is now a lifestyle guru.
But I would say the most surprising winner of reality show roulette is Olivia Palermo. The City star memorably served as the Park Ave princess antagonist to Whitney Port’s sunshine-y Cali cool girl, all while wearing the hell out of her clothes. She was the girl we loved to hate and now she is the face brands are stumbling over to hire, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.
One of her most lucrative partnerships is with sunglasses brand Westward Leaning who just recently announced an eight style collection designed in collaboration with Palermo. Westward Leaning co-founder Robert Denning explained to WWD their attraction to Palermo as opposed to the other major celebrities at their disposal:
Keyword searches featuring Olivia or some derivative of her name are the only individual-specific keywords in the top tier of revenue-driving organic searches related to Westward Leaning. No other person makes it into the top echelon, [or] has the kind of conversion power that Olivia has. When Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez broke up, he left wearing the pair of sunglasses we’d gifted Selena. I thought it would lead to a huge spike in sales, but didn’t move the dial at all.
Palermo has sashayed her way from reality show villain to bona fide fashion insider and her long awaited nuptials promise to be a much buzzed about affair. Makes you wonder if Palermo graced the cover of Vogue as the blushing Spring bride instead of another reality show star, would the uproar would have been so loud?
Palermo’s rise seems meteoric, but she used a lot of the same tried and true advice career counselors dole out on college campuses everyday. Here are five career tips you have all heard before and flawlessly utilized by Olivia Palermo to become the style star she is today.
Get Your Foot In the Door
Like I said, reality TV isn't the best entry, but Palermo used every second of her screen time to make you remember her. Once she burned her name — and fashion sense — into our pyche, she parlayed her new found stardom and TV show platform into a position at Elle and the rest was history.
Use Your Connections
We all knew Palermo was connected, being a socialite and all, but we had no real idea until she began "dropping in" on her friends on the show. If you got it, flaunt it...and the girl has got connections.
Dress for the Job You Want
Did I mention that girl can wear the hell out of some clothes? She was dressing like a style star from day one.
Play to Your Strengths
You will never see Palermo wandering outside the world of style because she knows that is her bread and butter. There's no moonlighting as a DJ or a cooking show. Her blog is set squarely in the realm of fashion and each of her designer collaboration boosts her street cred.
Keep it Classy
While others are working overtime trying to make a statement — looking at you, Rihanna — Palermo maintains an elegant timeless style persona. More Audrey Hepburn, less Madonna. Cheers to that!