13 Life-Changing Fashion Tips From Tim Gunn

Reddit AMA

Take notes. You can thank him later.

Feb 12, 2014 | 10:39 PM

If you're like us, you're feeling a little less than stylish after looking at pictures from New York Fashion Week. Look no further: fashion guru Tim Gunn, known for his mentorship of aspiring fashion designers in "Project Runaway," "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" and "Under the Gunn," took to Reddit to answer all your burning questions about fashion in an eye-opening AMA. Here are his 13 best answers:

1. "What advice would you give to someone less-advantaged financial who wants to build a solid wardrobe? (by Godrics)

Tim: I believe that more fashion mistakes are made by people with deep pockets than by those who shop on a budget. Begin with a closet inventory, and assess what it is you need.

2. Is there a moment in your life that stands out for you as a turning point? (by NotMyCats)

Tim: My friends and I started a group in college called "Tim Gunn: Life Coach". We basically discussed our problems and thought "What would Tim Gunn say?" There was a lot of "make-it-work", but it was fun!

3. Say a girl is moving to NYC and has to cut most of her wardrobe. What pieces should she be taking with her? (by Esyla)

Tim: A basic black dress, a blazer, a day dress preferably wrap, a pair of dress pants, a classic white shirt, a pair of dark wash jeans, a cashmere sweater, a trenchcoat (you can wear it to the opera, you can wear it to the grocery store), a stiletto, a pump and a ballet flat.

4. When did you first begin to say, "make it work"? (by Brenswen)

Tim: When I was teaching, probably that phrase was about 20 years ago. And I've found that it's always been very useful, especially in a teaching context.

5. What's your best life advice? (by TheTimGunn)

Tim: Take the high road. No matter how much stress, or strain, or consternation you are facing, take the high road. You will never regret it.

6. Do you have any advice on how to maintain poise and class in the face of adversity? (by Sciencebro)

Tim: Well, it goes back to what I said earlier about taking the high road. And it's very disarming to the other party when you are calm and poised through adversity. And what happens is, your attitude and disposition is an unexpected dimension that enters into the whole dynamic, and it tends to disarm people. They are not expecting that.

7. What general advice you'd give to heavier guys who are interested in dressing well? (by Jdbee)

Tim: Well, regardless of your size or shape, I subscribe to 3 elements that must be in harmony and balance at all times: Silhouette, proportion and FIT. Don't wear the untucked shirttail. It cuts you in half, which is a very bad proportion. Think of yourself as a series of thirds. So when the shirt is tucked in, you're 1/3 on top, 2/3 on the bottom. Avoid any prints that are large scale, because you will look like the print is wearing you, as opposed to you wearing the print. And at all costs, avoid clothes that are too big. The more volume your clothes have, the more volume you appear to have.

8. How to get out of a fashion rut? I work in an environment that requires business casual dress. Lately, I've been stuck in a pattern of black or gray slacks, ballet flats, and a plain but nice-looking top. What can I do to jazz it up? (by Kdemps1020)

Tim: Well there's a lot of colorful chinos, if they're acceptable in your workplace, those would be a fun addition. And play it up with accessories! Maybe a scarf, a great graphic cuff, a colorful statement purse, even using color in footwear, in shoes.

9. What are the 4 things that any man should have in their wardrobe? (by T-Durka)

Tim: Blazer/jacket, a pair of dark wash jeans, a dark suit, a necktie.

10. What are 5 situations men should suit-up for but often don't? (by Andot_L_Pab)

Tim: Going out to dinner, weddings, funerals, job interviews and a first date.

11. Do you believe that the fashion world helps or hurts bigger people, and do you see any encouraging trends of designers not just catering to more typical body types, but embracing those differences and showcasing them? (by Policyadvocate)

Tim: The fashion industry at large has been the worst public relations vehicle for larger women and petite women, they are both maligned and neglected. And I honestly do believe it's getting better. I do. And I'm doing all that I can to prod the industry and get them to pay more attention. Because I find it to be reprehensible and repugnant that two populations that are so pervasive in this nation should be so badly neglected.

12. Do you think deconstructionist fashion has a place in the standard american workplace or are office drones doomed to dress the part? (by Trashpile)

Tim: Well it depends upon your workplace. And I want to say to anyone who works in a drone workplace, raise the bar! There's no reason why you have to dress to the lowest common denominator.

13. What are your thoughts about sweater vests? (by Superslayer

Tim: I love them! I wear them myself. If you're wearing a jacket, as I always am, the sweater vest always needs to be buttoned, with the exception of the bottom button. But if you're going sans jacket, you can leave it open."

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