Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
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 3-4 of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Quality, Style and Taste.
The thing I love about Tim Gunn is that he is a man who practices what he preaches…and if you’ve read even a few pages of this guide, you know that he does preach. When I interviewed him a few years ago, he was decked out inhis very own uniform and looked perfectly comfortable in his skin. I have no doubt that he wears jeans and a turtleneck when “lounging” around the house and that he does, in fact, carefully evaluate every outfit in light of the day’s activities.
Therefore, when I started reading this book, I resolved to take his advice, though I had no idea how much that advice was really going to cost me. Enter chapter three: Diagnosing the Common Closet. I could tell from the illustration at the beginning of the chapter that I was going to be making a trip to Goodwill, but I never dreamed how many articles of clothing I would actually be parting with.
Gunn clearly states his intentions on the first page of the chapter: “The time has come to cleanse your sartorial palate.” (Sidenote: The word “sartorial” showed up numerous times in these next two chapters. For those of you who don’t know, it merely means “of or relating to clothes.” Don’t feel ignorant. I didn’t know what it meant either.)
But I digress…The purpose of chapter three is to rid your closet of the clothes that “do not truly make you feel happy or confident when wearing them.”Gunn references the term “personal style” in this chapter and notes that the word personal means that an item in your closet should not be in there because a celebrity was wearing it but because you feel that it represents who you are as an individual. His rule for what items we should keep in our closet and what items we should get rid of is simple: “if you have to ask yourself whether you should keep it, throw it away.”
Which leads me to the clothing piles…Gunn instructs us to separate our clothes into three piles: The soul-stirring pile, the repair pile and the giveaway/throw away pile. You get the picture.
As I went through chapter three and consequently my own wardrobe, I identified with every category of clothing TG told me I might find in my closet—from the horribly expensive items I felt guilty getting rid of (but probably shouldn’t have bought in the first place) to the pieces I keep holding onto in the hopes that they’ll come back in style. Perhaps it was his rule for “work clothes” that made me think the hardest about what items I have not only in my professional repertoire but also in my everyday wear: “If you wouldn’t want to run into an ex-lover (wearing it)that’s a sure sign that you could do better.”
In the end, I came up with two large paper shopping bags full of clothes togive away. I’d hate to total the hard earned cash that each of those bags represented, but I have to say that Gunn is right. When I entered my closet the next day, I was able to identify what pieces I have and what would pair well together rather than wasting twenty minutes of my morning routine trying to figure out “what I should wear.”
After cleansing our wardrobes in chapter three, Gunn points out some well-known women who could potentially serve as fashion mentors in chapter four. If you’re like me, reading some of the names he threw out meant nothing. I need visuals! And thanks to the magic of Google images I’ve found some of them and am sharing them with you. Throughout this post, you’ll find images of some of the women discussed in chapter four. (You can look up the rest for yourself…you’re big girls!) Prepare to be inspired!
Les Francaises- Carine Roitfeld, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Catherine Deneuve
The Sirens- Angelina Jolie, Nigella Lawson, Julie Christie
Masculine/Feminine- Katharine Hepburn, Coco Chanel
Les Gamines- Sophia Coppola, Natalie Portman
The Risk Takers- Sarah Jessica Parker, Chloe Sevigny, Kate Moss
The Rockers- Patti Smith, Cat Power
The Bohemians- Edith Bouvier Beale, Beatrice Wood, Donna Karan
Les Doyennes- Deeda Blair, Pauline de Rothchild, Lee Radziwill
Power Brokers- Martha Stewart, Vanessa Redgrave, Oprah Winfrey