This has been a week of interesting synergy for me.
I’ve been watching commercials for the new season of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style during my weekly Project Runway fix, the other day I was in my friendly local bookstore when I spotted a copy of Nina Garcia’s new book, The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own, and I keep running across references to What Not to Wear, How Do I Look? and all those other makeover shows.
I do consider Tim Gunn’s show (call me, Tim! I’ll bake scones!) several cuts above most makeover shows in that the person being made over is the one who makes the call, rather than being ambushed by her nearest and dearest, and is mostly given the tools to figure out how to choose clothes that will show her off to her best advantage. It does, however, have something in common with most of the others that I really dislike: the assumption that there are certain clothing pieces that every single woman must own, no matter what. Even if I were willing to allow someone to root through my underwear drawer, I’d still never call Tim for this purpose because I absolutely refuse to own a ‘little black dress’ or a trench coat, and those are the pieces the show will pay for me to have.
The concept behind the little black dress is actually fine. A relatively simple dress in a neutral color that can be worn in a pinch at a wide variety of functions is a nice thing to have. The problem is that everybody has concentrated so hard on little and black. I’m in no way a minimalist, and that includes with clothing. Black is…okay on me, but not particularly flattering. I don’t feel happy in little or in black, so if you combine them I’m going to disappear into a fashion funk that will suck the joy right out of me, and can easily take the room with it.
As for trench coats, well, put me in one and I’m a walking bad Humphrey Bogart joke.
Luckily, Tim has only ten things he requires of all women, most of which aren’t too bad once you look at the reasons behind and choose your own way to fill that need. Nina Garcia insists on a hundred! A quick flip through her book showed me that many of those one hundred things will never find closet or drawer space in my home. In all my life I’ve never been drawn to animal prints, and I didn’t care for bikinis when I was thin. Now that I have quite a prominent belly, I see no reason to suddenly take up a clothing style I’ve never been a fan of that will emphasize something I’d rather not make the Most Important Thing about me. Again, the little black dress (this time required to be an A-line, no less!) appears and insists on my owning it.