Have you ever wished you had enough fashion sense to dress your dog up in the trendiest of outfits? Or have you pondered fluffing up your puppy’s ensemble with some high-fashion couture, the likes of which even celebrities would envy? Well, if you don’t know your left paw from your right, or an argyle sweater from a cashmere one, your plan to make your dog the neighborhood’s sharpest pet fashionista may hit a few snags.
Not to worry, pet style junkies. Luckily, the fashion world has bestowed upon dog lovers the ever effervescent, and bow wow chic, Dara Foster, pet stylist extraordinaire and co-founder of PupStyle.com. Established in 2003 in tandem with Foster’s own brand of boutique dog collars, PupStyle.com has since become the online universal center of luxury dog products. Though her collars became a popular accessory among New York’s elite, Foster soon shed the neckwear and focused her attention on selecting only the most perfect dog fashion trends to highlight on Pupstyle.com.
Instantly popular, Pupstyle.com catapulted Foster into pet fashion stardom, positioning her as the premiere pet style expert. Though a powerhouse of dog fashion, Foster’s sweet nature isn’t lost in this “snobby dog blog.” The woman behind the trendsetting comes with an exemplary background that any dogvocate would applaud.
Foster began her career loving on dogs in the most selfless way possible, by participating in animal rescue. As volunteer and fundraising coordinator for Animal Care & Control in New York City, Foster was able to work closely with her first loves – dogs – and successfully advocated on their behalf. Her charismatic nature as their representative, and her love for the artistry of high-fashion clothing, led to the creation of Foster’s fantasy job.
“I had a dream of always combining my passion for fashion and dogs in some way, but never imagined it would organically turn into me becoming a world-renowned pet stylist,” said Foster in a written interview. “I live my life by the old saying ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’”
Growing up as an only child may have clinched Foster’s fate to hold true to that saying. Without siblings to roughhouse with, Foster had to turn to the dogs, who, as is true of all dogs, gladly became her best friends. “I remember dressing my dogs up in my own clothes starting at about age five,” said Foster. “It’s funny where little things like that lead you.”
More than just funny, her curious passions led Foster straight toward becoming the face of pet fashion. She’s the regular pet style contributor for NBC’s TODAY Show, the go-to style tip expert for Dogster.com, the resident pet fashion expert on Tibesti.com, and host of her very own radio show “The Pet Set” on PetLifeRadio.com. Foster’s guest appearances are innumerable and include Animal Planet, E!, and QVC.
With so much in her dog bowl, it’s only natural that her days are swamped with ever expanding tasks. To stay on top of pet style trends, Foster keeps her eyes glued to the computer screen.
“I spend more hours surfing the net than any sane person ever would,” she wrote. Thankfully, her career in pet style that spans over eight years has streamlined this process for Foster. She explained that many items come directly to her, since publicists send her hundreds of press releases pitching products they hope she’ll feature. She’s then able to sift through them and make her decisions.
It’s impressive how well she’s able to balance both family and work life. She’s mom to two lovely daughters, and dog mom to a Jack Russell Terrier named Flo (a fashion junkie!) and a Flat-Coated Retriever named Mr. Jenkins (who can normally be spotted in a flattering bow tie). But like many work-at-home moms, she multi-tasks with the best of them. She goes from checking emails, rushing her dogs out to potty breaks and her kids out to school, to working frantically in her home office, cooking dinner, cleaning house, and pawing back to work until bedtime.
“My life is nuts!” she says.
In fact, Foster’s been working double-duty these past few weeks preparing for her much anticipated appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, which airs Tuesday, March 2 on FOX (check your local listings). The pup fashionista will dazzle the audience with a fashion show where pooches will don outfits reflecting her interpretation of various celebrities.
Though Foster can’t divulge any details about the fashion show (tune in to watch!), it’s clear that one lucky pooch will be wearing i Love Dogs Diamonds’ La Jeune Tulipe from La Collection de Bijoux, which features six extravagant diamond dog collars. Foster first heard about the line in December.
“I was blown away by the diamond collars,” she said. She was especially taken by La Jeune Tulipe when it was showcased at this year’s 2nd Annual PETaPOTTY Westminster Experience fashion show.
“They’re stunning pieces of art!” Foster wrote. “I knew the right television opportunity would eventually present itself where I could show them to the world.”
Fortunately, Wendy Williams is a dog and fashion loving diva who requested Foster come onto her program to show off her expertise. Williams’ request gave the perfect setting for Foster to show off the collars. She automatically knew that the diva-esque pooch representing Ms. Williams in the fashion show would don the coveted diamond dog collar.
“Wendy loves accessories and sparkle,” wrote Foster. “She mixes high and low fashion together. So when I was asked to put on a dog fashion show for her, I knew right away she would flip out over the collars. They just scream ‘Wendy’ to me.”
There’s an enormous amount of preparation that goes into putting a segment like this together. The prep time usually consumes Foster’s life, and as she described, everything in her life “comes to a halt.”
“I have to book the dog models, handlers, create and source the fashion, and request all of the fashion,” she explained. “I have to memorize the product, and lastly get myself looking cute too!”
Foster’s fashion sense does stretch beyond canines to humans, but for this particular chapter in the life of Dara Foster, she’s opted to hire a personal stylist to help ease the burden. Her job during a guest appearance, she says, is to make everything run as smoothly as possible during the segment. It also doesn’t hurt that her on-camera charm likely keeps audiences glued to the television.
For those pet stylist wannabes at home, she offers the following fashion tips for sprucing up your pooch:
Make sure your pet’s health and safety always come first.
Don’t go overboard with clothing in warm climates; instead, have fun with dog accessories.
Dogs are not human accessories; they are family members and should be treated as such.
Obviously, Foster hasn’t strayed too much from her original dedication to the well-being of all dogs. Yes, she’s come a long way from her days in animal rescue. She’s gone from being a 10-year-old girl rescuing strays and lost dogs from the streets, to guest appearing on big, network television shows discussing what’s in dog vogue. But despite the fame, Foster continues to stay true to her roots.
She continues to support rescue efforts by donating products for silent auction to charities supporting important dog causes. She also spotlights companies whose proceeds go to animal rescue by taking their products onto national television. The more products Foster can help them sell, the more they can donate to animal rescue. It was with her help that brands like Found My Animal and Project71 gained success.
“My dream is to create my own low cost spay/neuter foundation, nationwide,” wrote Foster. With such a good heart and such intense dedication to her craft, she’s well on her way to realizing this next dream.