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SewStylish

Tim Gunn Does It Again

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A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style by Tim Gunn and Kate Moloney (Abrams Image, 2007)

A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style by Tim Gunn and Kate Moloney (Abrams Image, 2007)

Urbane: ur-bane adj. showing sophistication, refinement, or courtesy
(source: Encarta World English Dictionary)

Any dictionary worth its salt should put a picture of Tim Gunn next to that definition. Gunn, the former Chair of the Fashion Design Department at Parsons The New School for Design and current Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne, Inc., is probably best known as the gentle mentor to aspiring designers on Bravo TV’s Project Runway. He and his former Assistant Chair at Parsons, Kate Moloney, have penned this slim tome, which attempts to impart urbanity to the reading public.

Chapter by chapter
In general, they succeed. This book is filled with sartorial advice, much of which has been written before. But the tone and the examples are geared to a modern audience, and delivered in a style that is more “elegant acquaintance taking you under his wing” than “grandma telling you to stand up straight.”

The book consists of ten chapters:
1. Who You Are
2. The Fit Conundrum
3. Diagnosing the Common Closet
4. The Fashion Mentor: Beyond Audrey
5. Shoulders Back: Style from the Inside Out
6. Preparing to Shop
7. Let’s Go: Shopping at Last!
8. Accessories: Say No to the “It” Bag
9. Not Your Everyday Occasion
10. Appendices

Any of these chapters have lots of information for sewers and non-sewers alike. Most sewers understand inherently the issues of fit. We’re fortunate that we are able to address these issues before the garment is complete. It’s a good reminder to read about different styles and how they (and the design ease) affect fit.

Another great reminder comes in the “Shoulders Back” chapter. Gunn does tell you to stand up straight. And he gives great examples of how to elongate yourself. I walked around a full half inch taller after reading that!

Style gets personal

The underlying tone of the book is “to thine own self be true.” He follows this rule while advocating that you choose a fashion mentor (a la Audrey, Jackie, etc.) and keep her in mind as you venture through the fashion jungle. He uses it to encourage ruthless editing of your closet and pitching things that are “out,” don’t and won’t fit, or just plain aren’t you.

Gunn does a great job of wittily prodding you to think about style and how it affects your image and reflects back upon you. And the last chapter contains an excellent glossary of terms that should be familiar to every sewer.

A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style is a quick and enjoyable read. This book makes me want to check out his new show “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style” on Bravo TV (www.BravoTV.com/timgunn) to see what other excellent advice Mr. Gunn will dispense!

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