Boston-based fashion stylist Tara West has clients who run the gamut — including A-list celebrities whose names she is not at liberty to disclose, but whom she has made camera-ready for everything from magazine cover shoots to red carpets. “I think because I’m from California, I have a little bit more of a relaxed, elevated style,” said West when asked what about her style sensibilities resonate so strongly with people. And even though she worked as a marriage and family therapist/mental health counselor early on in her career, West said her childhood passion for fashion never faded. “I was the best-dressed therapist ever,” she joked. Now West, 49, can be seen on TV shows like “Extra” talking about everything fashion, and she was just hired by Raffles Boston hotel to be its in-house stylist. “It’s exciting,” said the Los Angeles native of the new partnership. West, who cohosts (with Jill Kravetz) a business, fashion, strategy, and style podcast called “Shorts with Tara and Jill,” said she loves to travel and share her experiences. And even though she dreams of going on a Kenyan safari, her go-to travel destinations closer to home are Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. We caught up with West — who lives in Brookline with her husband, Kevin (who owns Klogix, a cybersecurity company), their three teenagers, and Stella, their Havanese rescue puppy — to talk about all things travel.
If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go? I’d love to go on safari in Kenya. There’s something so peaceful and inspiring being among the animals in Africa … seeing them in their natural habitat and taking in the sounds of nature. The colors of the sky and the culture of Kenya is inspirational.
Where was the first place you traveled to after COVID restrictions were lifted? It was a big one: I traveled to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. It was an incredible trip — a trip I’m thankful I was able to take and will cherish forever.
Do you prefer booking trips through a travel agent or on your own? For a big trip, like the ones I mentioned above, I find it easier to work with a travel agent; someone who is privy to the place and has insight into the country. If it’s a more low-key vacation, I don’t mind booking on my own. There are so many resources now to help one navigate and put together the perfect vacation.
Thoughts on an “unplugged” vacation? I typically give myself a bit of an “unplugged” vacation, but part of my job is to share my vacation. People like to see what I’m wearing, where I visit, etc. as it inspires them and gives them guidance on how they should pack and where they might want to travel. (Her Instagram account, @tarawestfashion, has nearly 40,000 Instagram followers.)
Do you use all of your vacation time or leave some on the table? When I have an opportunity to go on vacation, I’m all in.
What has been your worst vacation experience? My worst vacation was two years ago. We went on a family vacation to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was great and our hotel was fabulous, but it was a calamity of errors. One bad thing happened after another and then there was a snowstorm that canceled all flights to Boston. We were determined to get out. It took us 20 hours, two flights, and a two-hour hotel stay in New York City to get home, but we did it.
Do you vacation to relax, to learn, or for the adventure of it all? When my kids were younger, we would go on “relaxing” vacations, which typically took us to a beach resort so kids could swim all day and I had a moment on a lounge chair. Now that they are older and love adventure, we tend to go on vacations that are exciting. With every new adventure, we learn about a new a culture, new food, and more about ourselves.
What book do you plan on bringing with you to read on your next vacation? I’d like to read, “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach on my next vacation. I’m always interested in learning about best practices when it comes to finance. As a business owner, I find financial tips beneficial and extremely helpful.
If you could travel with one famous person/celebrity, who would it be? The celebrity duo I’d like to travel with are The McCartneys — Paul and Stella. Paul because his songs are the soundtrack to my life and if I could hear him sing a tune, that would be the perfect vacation. Stella … well I’d love to pick her brain about fashion, style, and what inspires her. If I could get some tips, that would be a bonus.
What is the best gift to give a traveler? A stylist. If you can have a stylist come and style outfits for your vacation, you will be thrilled. You will pack less, be organized, and of course will look fabulous.
What is your go-to snack for a flight or a road trip? Michele’s Granola. Its gluten- and dairy-free and tastes delicious. I also always must have a green tea whether it’s hot or iced.
What is the coolest souvenir you’ve picked up on a vacation? When I was in college, I studied abroad through a program called Semester at Sea. I traveled around the world for a semester on a boat with 500 college kids. It was amazing. When we were in Vietnam, I had a traditional dress made called an ao dai, which is a tunic with pants. I had mine made in a beautiful blueprint and a white pant. It’s stunning.
What is your favorite app/website for travel? There are so many websites available, but when I have a travel question or need feedback on a hotel or a region I want to travel to, I always ask Tiffany Dowd, a local travel expert (www.luxetiffany.com). She knows global luxury and I trust her advice.
What has travel taught you? Travel has taught me perspective. No matter what’s going on in your life, when you travel and learn about other countries and cultures, your perspective changes. When introduced to other cultures, your world expands and things don’t seem so trivial. I recently traveled to Spain and left feeling lighter and wanting to enjoy life more. People in Spain enjoy their life and their lifestyle. The focus there is on being happy and enjoying meals, friends, and family. It was a wonderful perspective — one that I’d like to embrace more.
What is your best travel tip? Best travel tip is to try everything. You learn so much about a place and people when you eat their food. We always go on a local food tour when we are in a new place. The local guides know the best places to eat with the most authentic food. They also know what’s safe and are a great resource to learn about a region.
Juliet Pennington can be reached at email@example.com.