Patrick Guertin has the envious job of styling celebrities and public figures. His goal isn’t to make these people stop traffic: it’s more about defining their personal style as it relates to fashion, and discovering a look that matches their lifestyle.

It’s an underground industry where he doesn’t reveal his clients. “I want what I created to be their style and for them to own it. I really enjoy letting them have all the glory,” says Guertin.

After working a variety of jobs, Guertin found his calling as a personal stylist at a high-end retail boutique in his home state of Minnesota. “I felt like it was always in me,” says Guertin. As a child, each autumn’s back-to-school clothes-shopping spree excited him. “My mom would call the person at the department store, drop me off and I would do my own shopping. I didn’t want help. They would call her to come pick me up and I would walk out with my bags. I planned all of my outfits for the school year. All I wanted for Christmas was clothes. I loved style. I loved fashion magazines. I never realized that people struggled with it.”

He moved to Los Angeles to take his career to the next level. One day he finally knocked on the right door, that of a Midwest-born agent. “She called and said, ‘I have this job and it’s on Sunday. It’s pro bono for this new up-and-coming actor Jake Gyllenhaal for Premiere Magazine,’” says Guertin. After styling celebrities, movie extras, musicians going out on tour and red-carpet Oscar nominees – as an employee of an agency – he decided to only work with private clientele.

“You’ve got less than 10 seconds to make an impression. It’s really important, the power of dressing. It’s not about money and how much money you’re spending. You can be on an H&M budget and do it right,” he says.

What is your personal definition of “style”?

It’s “your” style. Some guys like to wear a really good pair of sneakers with a suit, like Justin Timberlake. He makes it look hot. He’ll put on a tuxedo with no bowtie and wear a cool shirt and a sneaker and he looks GQ-ready. That, to me, is style.  Style could be the way I like to drink my coffee or the kind of car I like to drive. You could be like ‘I love everything navy,’ but how do you enhance that? That’s where style comes in. How do you individualize?

What techniques do you use to help someone develop and define his or her personal style?

I ask a lot of questions. What do you do for a living? What are the things that make you happy? How do you see yourself? How do you want other people to see you? Where do you go? Who do you hang out with? These are very important questions. Even if we are Skyping, you should stand out. Wear something that people will remember you by, like a navy sportscoat and a white shirt, with a bright-yellow pocket square in the top pocket.

As a celebrity image consultant in Hollywood, you are more often than not dealing with body types that more closely match the proportions of models. For the average population, how do you recommend minimizing flaws and determining what type of clothing is appropriate for your body type?

Nine times out of ten, the people who walk the red carpet do not have the perfect body. It’s master tailors working to make it visually what you think it is. Everybody has a body issue. If it’s a guy who has a little bit of a belly, wear a suit with a vest. The vest will act as a corset and pull him in. For a woman who wants to minimize her bust, use different fabrics and colors, where you style it back a little bit. Never try to hide flaws. It’s always the worst when you see people try to hide flaws.

If you want to downplay your arms and neck, go with a darker color. However, color is great: we remember it. Let’s say I’m a size-14 girl and I don’t love my arms. I would wear a pink shirt with a navy blazer over it, with little piping. Red shades are too passionate and not great for interviewing. Keep it very simple for the first interview. It’s respectful for the person interviewing you. When you are meeting someone for the first time, you want to get this job and not have your outfit criticized.

For interview #2, keep it consistent. You want the hiring person to read you consistently, not ‘Oh my god, she’s wearing this crazy printed floral dress and the other day she wore a very simple white blouse with a pink blazer in the first interview.’

Once you define your personal style, how do you maintain that style and distinguish what’s appropriate dress for work, casual and eveningwear?

Dress for the people you are around. I’m not going to show up in a tuxedo for Thanksgiving Day at my family’s house. We’re going to watch football and eat turkey. Meet your audience in the middle.

You never know whom you are going to meet – it might be your next boss. If I’m in a nice polo shirt and khaki pants and a boat shoe on my day off and I’m next to a guy in a tank top, shorts and flip-flops, I might have a better advantage. You never want to let your guard down.

How important is it to incorporate the latest fashion trends into your personal style and how can you accomplish that task without breaking the bank?

Find out who the trendy designers are, but don’t buy the trendiest pieces from them, just the staples. I’m not going to buy the red coat with the zebra collar. I’m going to buy the camel coat and the black suit. When you’re on a budget, trends move too quickly. Buy things that will continually work for you. You should be able to take them from day to night easily, such as separating a suit from the pants.

Our Cruise Career Coach theme this month addresses virtual interviews via webcam. Many of the celebrities you assist spend much of their time in front of the camera. What advice can you share in order to maximize that first impression on camera for the best outcome in this virtual environment?

Color stands out, for sure – just be authentic. Don’t wear patterns or prints. For women, put on that bright-print fuchsia dress because it will pop. Solid colors always read really well. White will wash you out. Black can be a little harsh. It’s great for evening but not for daytime. Choose a softer navy instead of black. Dress according to the seasons. Do not wear floral in the middle of winter. It’s a mental thing for people.  I never put clients in black for daytime unless it’s for a funeral. No paisley shirt, no shirts with pineapples on them. There’s no need for you to look like you’re on vacation. You want to look like you’re looking for work.