June 21, 2007

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Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style, by Tim Gunn with Kate Moloney (Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2007, 201 pages)
Reviewed by Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com

Tim Gunn is magnificent.

Not just his perfect silver hair, impeccable clothes and ruler-straight posture. These things are wonderful but what really makes Tim Gunn Tim Gunn is the way he terrifies and comforts, inspires and criticizes the contestants of Project Runway. Inevitably one competitor per episode on Bravo’s reality show will hold up some sad fabric remainder in front of some unfortunate couture creation and Gunn will sigh and instruct him to “make it work,” in a tone of voice somewhere between “good God, stop right now” and “go out swinging, li’l solider.”

Gunn brings a similar “make it work” philosophy to me and you and our closets. I regularly commit the sin of buying clothes that fit some singular part of myself but are way too big everywhere else. The result, as Gunn points out, is in making all of me look doughier than necessary. Gunn’s pep talk about fit and sizes is perfect for someone who is convinced that none of the sizes are flattering anymore. As with his advice to designers, Gunn is all about making the raw materials that you have (your doughy self, your limited budget, the clothes in your closet) work and making them work specifically for you (his commentary on the overly tucked women who dress like their granddaughters is deliciously catty). He recommends a few high-quality pieces, sticking with a personal style that works for you (trend-chasing is for teenagers and Sarah Jessica Parker) and a good set of undergarments.

Gunn’s book offers great advice for everyone at every time — which is perhaps the only problem with it. Unlike Lucky’s shopping guide, for example, it doesn’t offer specific style advice (nothing beats being able to take a picture to the department store and tell the clerk “one like that, please”). Short of having Tim Gunn shop with me personally, however, this book offers the next best thing. B+