Tim Gunn is more than qualified when it comes to fashion know-how. After serving as the associate dean of Parsons The New School for Design, Tim signed on to mentor fledgling designers on the hit reality show, Project Runway. Tim is also the chief creative officer of Liz Claiborne, is a published author, and hosts the show Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style. Everyone wants advice from Tim, so we asked him about a few things that every woman should to know.
What are the three things women need to have in their closet now?
A basic black dress, a blazer, and a trench coat. Why? A blazer is the easiest way to dress up a T-shirt and a pair of jeans and go almost anywhere. A trench coat can be worn to the grocery store or the opera. And who doesn’t have an occasion when a basic black dress is the only appropriate apparel choice?
Tell us the three most common fashion mistakes women make.
When it comes to fit, I find that most women wear clothes that are either too large or too small, usually the former. Frankly, the proper fit of any garment is wholly related to proper-fitting undergarments, and on that topic I find that most women are wearing an improperly fitting bra. Let’s begin there!
Poor clothing maintenance is another frequent crime against fashion. I see clothes crammed in closets with such force that removing a single item is like triggering a jack-in-the-box. Imagine what that does to those items! I always find knits on hangers, which stretches them out of shape—anything that has stretch needs to be folded and laid flat. And all too frequently I find a profusion of stains. Why?
And then there’s age appropriateness: We all wince at a Grandma Jezebel; they’re easy to recognize. A more subtle issue is women who shop in the juniors department. Clothing designed for the junior market isn’t intended to be worn by anyone out of her teens. Adult women who do are confronted with serious proportion and fit issues that can’t be resolved without having to deconstruct and rebuild the entire garment.
How do you step outside your fashion safety zone and try new things?
This is possibly the biggest fashion conundrum that most women face. So be cognizant of your fashion rut, go shopping with an open mind and pull items that speak to you, and try things on!
Do you have any secrets you can share on how to take your style from day to night?
I love style that transitions! And it’s a lot easier than people think. Let’s take something classic like a skirt and a blouse. By day, wear flats or a pump, maybe a cardigan—if layering is appropriate—carry a hobo bag, and wear understated jewelry. By night, don a stiletto, remove the cardigan, trade out the bag for a clutch, and glam up the jewelry. And guess what? All of the items that you need for this day-to-night transition can fit into your hobo bag!