Tim Gunn knows that when it comes to looking your best while losing weight, you’re more likely to get stuck in your own head than in a size too small. Check out his secrets for looking your best no matter where you are on your journey.
Weight Watchers: When you're in the process of losing weight, what would you recommend as a starting point for rebuilding your wardrobe?
Tim Gunn: The wrap dress is such a wonderful piece because it will adapt itself to your shape and size. And it's knit, so it's very forgiving in that regard, too. It's what I like to call a "sweat suit alternative." You can run down the street to pick up coffee in it and still look great. I know so many women are hesitant to wear a dress but it's so flattering. I always say to women in this process—boast. Don't hide it until you're in the size that you want to be—show it off!
WW: So if you're starting with the basic wrap dress, what can you do with it to change up your look?
TG: I love a big graphic cuff. Around the neckline, a statement necklace or pendant makes the eye go there. It should be all about comfort. In terms of shoes, I celebrate the flat. I know lots of fashion editors who wear them because they're constantly running around. You can always update a basic look with accessories. In the summer for example, I like to wear Transitions lenses. They're glasses indoors and sunglasses outdoors.
WW: When cleaning out your closet after losing weight, what do you want to stock your new wardrobe with?
TG: I have a list of basics I recommend for every woman: a basic black dress, a day dress, a skirt that fits your body type, a top for that skirt, a pair of classic dress pants, a pair of dark-wash jeans and a trench coat.
WW: How do you go about cleaning out your closet?
TG: I ask women to divide their closet into four categories: the "soulsters"—things they really love; replenishment—things that aren't really fashion items but are serviceable; the giveaways and the throwaways. Just get rid of them if you don't need them anymore! You should definitely go shopping before you clean out your closet. It cuts out the fear of having nothing to wear.
WW: How do you find a size that fits your new body? It can be an emotional process.
TG: And I hate it! When I'm helping women with this, I just want to cut out the size label. I can assure her that she's smaller than she thinks she is. Take several sizes into the dressing room and try them on, but don't look at the size until after you've found one that fits. It's important not to go through it alone. You need to have someone with you who is a cheerleader but also a truth teller and will deliver tough love when you need it.
WW: How do you deal with trying out new trends once you've hit your goal weight? It's easy to get discouraged if a certain trend doesn't work for your body type.
TG: What I want people to know about trends is that it's fashion and retail's catnip. They want you to buy stuff. It's an allure, a seduction. And I always say pay as little attention to trends as you possibly can. I mean, unless something is really plucking at your emotional heartstrings, just ignore it altogether—because it's a trend. Spend as little money on it as you can if you are inclined to buy it. If it doesn't work for you, it's the garment—not you.
WW: How do you go about finding your personal style if you're new to the fashion world?
TG: Well, I say find a fashion icon. This isn't necessarily someone you admire, but someone who is your shape, size and at your station in life. A good place to start is to have someone to look to and ask yourself: "Would ____ wear that?"
The elements of style
Follow Gunn's rule of three to always look your best:
- Silhouette: "You want clothes that follow your shape—nothing that's baggy, nothing that's a scuba suit."
- Proportion: "It's about looking at yourself from your shoulders to your toes and dividing yourself into thirds. An example is your dress—you're two-thirds on top, one-third on the bottom. If you were wearing pants and a top, you're two-thirds on the bottom, one-third on top. What you want to avoid is cutting yourself in half."
- Fit: "Plain and simple—your clothes need to fit you!"
Tim Gunn is the co host of Project Runway, a leading fashion expert and an author. For those beginning a new relationship with their closet, Tim recommends his first book, A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style.