I have always been fond of What Not To Wear, the long-running TLC show with Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. When I was invited to participate in a stylists’ training a couple years ago with Stacy herself, I jumped at the chance. It was interesting and wonderful to learn from such an incredible talent. (Read more about the experience and what I learned about styling here.) I didn’t show myself to my best advantage, second-guessing what she and her team were looking for from the participants and overthinking my outfit to such a degree that it was bland the first day and ugly the second day. (Hey, even image consultants sometimes make mistakes!) So I didn’t go on to become one of the Style for Hire stable of stylists, and in hindsight it’s probably for the best.
Flash forward to last week, when I saw that London has a new book out, The Truth About Style. I knew from the training that she is whip-smart and funny as hell, so I didn’t waste time buying the book. And I’m glad I did — it shows how insightful she is; how much empathy she has for other women; and how her work is an outgrowth of that desire to support and build up women. As she herself has said, her TV show is entertainment — styling with real people isn’t about biting, sarcastic wit.
The book is organized around a handful of clients, each with a core “problem” that is affecting her personal style — very tall, petite, plus size, just started dating, etc. In her approach to each one, London is matter-of-fact and kind yet direct, offering what I believe to be the best — only — approach to image: meeting the client where she is today, not 10 years or 10 pounds from now.
And if you don’t believe the sincerity of London’s empathy toward the women she “starts over” (no “makeovers” in this book!), you’ll have to read the bits in which she talks about herself and her own issues, starting with a severe case of psoriasis when she was 11 who went on to develop an eating disorder a few years later.
I highly recommend the book for anyone who wants to dig herself out of a style rut … while having compassion for herself about the reasons that got her in the rut in the first place.