Meet the Bergen County woman behind ‘RHONJ’ Jacqueline Laurita’s style transformation

jac-laurita-melissa-poloMelissa Polo Landau

Jacqueline Laurita and stylist Melissa Polo Landau

Ever wonder how Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita dresses so perfect all the time? Her secret is Franklin Lakes resident Melissa Polo Landau. The celebrity stylist and founder of Vetir Femme has been dressing her good friend for the past year and has totally upped Jacqueline’s style game to the next level.

The Staten Island native started Vetir Femme, which means “to dress woman” in French, in January 2015. After moving to the North Jersey suburbs from New York City, Melissa’s chic and feminine style drew significant attention, with many Bergen County ladies who were busy with work and kids, inquiring who she was wearing and how they too could attain her look. Melissa tells me, “I found a great group of women, but they were distracted with their lives and their kids, and they didn’t really have time for themselves. They always asked me how I dress so well.”

melissa-poloMelissa Polo Landau

Melissa knew she wanted to work in fashion since she was 16 and got her start working on the sales and manufacturing side of the industry. Upon graduating from Berkeley College in Manhattan, she worked for top designer brands like Vera Wang, BCBG MAXAZRIA, and Erin Fetherston. After a successful career and traveling all over the world, she realized she was ready for a change.

“My passion was women and fashion, not the company and fashion,” she tells me. “I wanted to connect to the client, the one-on-one experience. I love to help people, it’s in my nature.”

Right now Melissa have over 100 clients, ranging from stay-at-home moms to corporate CEOs. The 30-year-old’s diverse roster includes lawyers, doctors, nurses, estheticians, PTA moms, and even a ballroom dancer. Melissa’s services aren’t just limited to New Jersey women, she travels all across the tri-state area, from Manhattan to Long Island for her clients. And she even does men! “My specialty is women,” she says. “But men are so much fun because they don’t realize how much fashion there is for them. That’s a good challenge.”

Melissa offers a wide range of affordable services and packages from a complete style session to red carpet styling. Her most popular is the wardrobe edit, where she goes through everything in your closet. “We start in baby steps. We clean out for the current season and then there’s things, if you haven’t worn, I reinvent them,” she says. “My whole goal is to make 50 to 100 outfits of your current wardrobe. If you have the wardrobe, I can do it.”

Then she likes to play the let’s make outfits game. “If there’s things that are beautiful that I feel we can recreate like cut off sleeves or pin it, I do that too. I have a seamstress that works for me and we alter some of your pieces,” she says. “Like if there’s pants that are too long, I’ll turn them into a culotte. If there’s a jacket with an awesome panel but bad sleeves, I would cut the sleeves off and make it a vest. You’re using your current wardrobe and we haven’t spent a dime yet.”

Melissa also dresses her clients for events, luncheons, and charity events. “Women in New Jersey are busy,” she says. “I always have events in mind when we buy. One outfit can be worn three different ways:”

Melissa, who counts some of her favorite designers as Valentino, Chloe, Sonia Rykiel, and Stella McCartney, says she can transform her clients into any look they desire, whether they want to look like they stepped out of a magazine editorial or a bohemian-chic fashionista like Millburn native Rachel Zoe.  “It’s really what they want. We can create any look,”  she says. “Fashion can be over the top or completely muted. Sometimes I give them a little risk. I push a little bit when I see there’s a leeway.”

One of Melissa’s first clients was Jacqueline, who she met through their mutual personal trainer Samanta Bianco. She tells me, “I started with Jacqueline because she was the perfect role model, the perfect housemom, and working mom. I learned her body type, I learned what she liked and didn’t like. Jacqueline was easy, she loved everything.”

Melissa tells me Jacqueline is not into fashion, beauty is more her thing, so she taught the mom of three all her tricks. “She wouldn’t wear a long vest because she felt she would get lost in it cause shes only 5’3″. So I had to show her all the short celebs wearing them and now she loves it,” Melissa says. “She’s got it now. Now she can pick out her own looks, and now my job is to get her into the new stuff, the new trends.”

One of Melissa’s favorite looks she styled the new glamma in was her RHONJ Season 7 Premiere Party outfit. “That was a perfect outfit because it captured feminine and edgy.”  she tells me. “She doesn’t like to show her arms, so I paired a blouse with an edgy skirt, so she didn’t look like she was going to the office.”

Jacqueline was rocking a fab Alice + Olivia skirt and top, with OMJ's Kelly DillonNicole Musa/OMJ

Jacqueline was rocking a fab Alice + Olivia skirt and top, with OMJ’s Kelly Dillon

She also styled Jacqueline for the reunion in a stunning Badgley Mischka dress and Fallon choker. “That dress was originally just a long gown, so I had a seamstress make that slit down the middle because I love her legs,” she tells me. “She’s got great legs. She reminds me of Tina Turner with her legs, so I try to always show off her legs.”

Melissa says the dress spoke for itself, and it was super comfortable for Jacqueline to sit in for the 10 hours of filming. “It was so flattering and fitting and she looked great in that color,” she says. “I told the hairstylist to do her hair long, so she added extensions, and gold-tones for makeup. It was perfect. I like to take a risk with colors for her. That color with her skin tone and hair color was perfect.”

Jacqueline's reunion lookHeidi Gutman/Bravo

Jacqueline’s reunion look

The Real Housewives of New Jersey -- Season 7Heidi Gutman/Bravo

In addition to Jac, Melissa also styled Season 7 newbies Siggy Flicker and Dolores Catania for their promo pics. She had all three ladies don fabulous La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni gowns. She tells me, “I didn’t want to go over the top and get embellishments. For me they’re not in Beverly Hills where they can do that, so let’s give their gown a muted style. You have to think about geographics.”

The Real Housewives of New Jersey - Season 7Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Successful day at @lapetiterobemi with Chiara Boni and @jaclaurita #rhonj #bravotv #nyc #wardrobestylist #chiaraboni

A photo posted by Melissa Polo Landau (@vetir_femme) on

For the future Melissa envisions herself opening up a full service salon where women can get out of the home and use the space for all their styling needs and charity events.

“Fashion is fun. Everyone women has their inner girl talking to them, saying things like ‘I don’t like my arms.’ It’s like the devil on the shoulder saying ‘you can’t wear that,'” she tells me. “But you can wear that, or find another way to wear it. It’s my eye that helps them get it.”

To learn more about Melissa’s styling services, go to VetirFemme.com.