Sunday, April 19, 2020

Weekend Review: Tim Gunn: a Guide to Quality, Taste & Style

New York: Abrams, c2007.
201 p.

Although not a book with patterns like the last two I've shared, this slim little style guide from the early days of Tim Gunn's style guru status is also quite dated! It is lightweight but not too bad overall. It covers a bit of closet diagnosis, style mentor discovery, posture, affordability, identity and finally also shopping.

I actually found the chapter of posture and fit most interesting. He notes that standing correctly will always make your clothes look better on you, and I definitely have to work on that. Like most North Americans (in his judgement) I do slump and lean a bit too much!

This book provides an interesting look back at style from over a decade ago -- not for the actual clothing discussions but for the assumptions. Things have really changed in the last decade. He states right out, early on, that good clothes should make you look slimmer and taller. I think even Tim Gunn is far more aware of body positivity and the changes in perception about clothing that has occurred over the last few years.

I did like his differentiation between style and trends. He recommends against buying fast trends that will languish in your closet after one wear, and also against being sucked in to buying overpriced and inefficient purchases like the "It" bag of the moment. It's a bit unusual for a fashion guide to say so.

He does talk about body shape and what clothes are 'best' for short chubby people like me -- but I don't agree with never wearing big prints or bright colours. So I will dispense of that advice; once again, it's tied to the desire to make a person look taller and slimmer, neither of which are primary goals in my own closet. I'm not ever going to magically become taller, and I am perfectly happy with my shape. In this section he also mentions that the tall, long-legged, slim figure has hit the lucky jackpot... clearly it is the ideal. Despite that, he does say that sizes are just numbers, and in wardrobe building you should be focusing on fit and not a random number. I think most sewists would agree that fit is paramount!

He also talks about tone, ie: making sure your clothing and makeup/hair styles and accessories all match, in the sense of being at the same level of casual or dressy. I agree with this -- for example, I dislike seeing gorgeous gowns on the red carpet on someone who is wearing normal everyday hair and aren't really dolled up with any makeup or jewelry to go with it.

Anyhow, for a book so old, I still enjoyed it. He is so entertaining, and I like the erudition in his books. He invokes Kierkegaard and the dilemma of choice in his chapter on closet cleanouts, which amused me. But it also kind of makes sense!

As an addition to my study of personal style and wardrobe building this year, this one had some useful tidbits.

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