Tim Gunn Shares Tips on Closet Must-Haves and Creating Personal Style

Style icon, fashion consultant, host of Project Runway: Tim Gunn is a man who wears many hats. Take a look at what he has to say about blazers, sheer fabric, trench coats, and more.

On and off the runway, Tim Gunn is helping people "see life through a new lens" by partnering with Transitions Optical in a campaign aimed to educate and encourage people to see the world of fashion and their personal style differently. We sat down with Tim, and he shared some secrets on staying true to your style in a world of never-ending fashion trends.

Q: What are 5 pieces a woman must have in her closet?

A: Oh, easy. A basic black dress, a blazer, a dark-wash pair of jeans, a classic white shirt, and a dress pant. Keep in mind, these items should be personalized according to one's taste and lifestyle.

Q: When purchasing clothing, what pieces are worth investing in?

A: A trench coat is probably one of the most versatile items a woman can have in her closet. You can wear it to the grocery store or you can wear it to the opera. I want people to not think about the classic khaki trench; that certainly is an option, but you can get them with all sorts of extra construction detail, or even stripped down of the appellants and the buttons and the belt.

I'm also going to encourage women to do the following: Try things on. I know it's a nuisance, but it's worth it. And, when necessary, have things altered. In the menswear world, this is something we just do because we look better when the clothes fit us well. Women should be doing the exact same thing.

Q: What is the best advice you can give to women who are on a tight budget but want to keep up with fashion trends?

A: I think everyone is best served by shopping on a budget. The first thing anyone should do before shopping is to examine your closet inventory and ask yourself a couple questions: Do I wear this frequently? Do I not wear this at all? Will I never wear this? What do I actually need or actually want? What are the heartstring-pullers? Build off those items. Interacting with your wardrobe should be fun and engaging; it shouldn't be an arduous task. This emotion helps propel us forward and gives us a boost of confidence.

Q: What fashion tips do you have for any woman who wants to look ageless and modern?

A: My advice is to do good with accessories such as handbags, shoes, perhaps an item of jewelry -- you can demonstrate to the world that you know what is relevent in fashion without cleaning out your entire closet and starting from scratch. Wear what you look great in, and stick with it.

Q: What is one item in your closet you can't live without?

A: This is technically two items, but I would say a suit. I can't imagine being without a suit. I've evolved into a suit person, and I've become very comfortable with it. I have to tell you one funny anecdote. When I'm home in New York and I have a free morning, I go to my local city diner for breakfast. One day, I went in wearing just an open shirt and a blazer and a pair of khakis. This man stopped me on the street and he says, "Someone call 911. Someone get an ambulance." I said, "What do you mean? For me?" And he said, "No, for me! I can't believe I'm seeing you dressed like this. I'm about to have a heart attack!" After he walked away, I said to myself, "That guy needs to get a life."

Q: Is there a trend that you wish would just go away?

A: Sheer. It is so vulgar and just shows way too much skin. Women think they're "covered up," but you're really not. It's like they're wearing a translucent shower curtain; we can see right through it. Look at the red carpet. How many celebrities on the red carpet actually look good in it? I can count on a couple of fingers.


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