My Tim Gunn Top Ten
In 2009, I started The Style Geek Book Club, a book club that meets both virtually and in real life to discuss the books we read and how they affect our every day life. Below is a summary of my thoughts on chapters 5-9 of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Quality, Style and Taste.
Well, Mr. Gunn and I have come to the end of our journey together, and yet, I feel that the knowledge he has imparted will stay with me—and make me all the more stylish—for years to come. Seriously. I learned something new or was inspired in a different way in each chapter. Since I haven’t posted since chapter four, I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so in the interest of time and the spirit of David Letterman (who I am still boycotting due to his personal and moral failures), I will attempt to make a top ten list of the lessons I learned from Mr. Gunn in chapters 5-9.
1.) Any outfit can be ruined by poor posture. Proper posture feels like you are pinning your shoulder blades together. Pull your shoulders away from your ears, drawing the shoulder blades down and back and making the collarbone as open as possible. And don’t forget about your lower body: tuck your bottom under and draw your navel into your spine.
2.) If you have to keep tugging on your clothing to get it on, or fiddling with it once you’re wearing it, it’s either poorly designed or doesn’t fit at all—and you simply shouldn’t be wearing it!
3.) When evaluating a potential purpose, ask yourself: Is this item appropriate for the season it’s being marketed for? If the item is not seasonally appropriate, you will look either under or over dressed. (Remember: Cotton and Christmas don’t mix!)
4.) Always try before you buy. Twenty dollars is too much to spend if you are never going to wear it!
5.) The individually owned boutique is often the most exciting and inspiring place to shop. (I have found this to be true in every town I’ve lived in. Even if I can’t always afford the wares, it’s worth taking a peek.)
6.) You should never buy something on sale that you wouldn’t buy at full price.
7.) Before you leave the house on a shopping trip, ask yourself: Why am I shopping today? Shopping after a bad day at work or a fight with your significant other might not be good for your bank account. If you are constantly tempted to shop for emotional release <ahem, I’m talking mostly to myself here> take a friend who will act as a good conscience—and a good listener.
8.) Purchasing a purse is like purchasing a pet: You must assess how much (closet) space you have, how much maintenance you can handle, and you must remember that it will be with you for many, many years.
9.) If you receive an invitation to a party without dress code instructions, you must do as much research as possible. The first (and best) option should always be to call the hostess. If he/she is not available, however, you must ask yourself questions like: Where is the even being held? What type of space is it? What type of people are the hosts? What percentage of the people will be tattooed?
10.) There’s no point in having long, beautiful hair if you are going to wear it pulled back 90 percent of the time. A haircut can make or break an outfit.
At the end of his Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, Mr. Gunn waxes eloquent on the virtues of being stylish. Personally, I could not agree more:
Style…is about who you are…The secret to keeping your style hop, hop, hopping along is to be forever expanding your cultural horizons. Since style is ineluctably related to the culture in which you live, the more you see, read, sniff, hear or eat, the richer your engagement with the world around you becomes. So, perhaps the real secret to style is filling yourself to the absolute bring with engagement.
*Top ten list paraphrased from Tim Gunn’s Guide to Quality, Taste & Style