“Make it work.” The simple yet punchy phrase coined by Tim Gunn has become a mantra for fashion lovers the world over. Not surprisingly, Gunn knows a thing or two about making it work even when things seem uncertain. A graduate of Washington’s Corcoran College of Art and Design, Gunn spent his early career as a sculptor before taking up a position at New York’s Parsons The New School for Design. By 2000, Gunn was chair of the fashion department and shortly thereafter a little show called Project Runway came knocking. Although he was not initially impressed with the idea, the charismatic producers convinced him to give it a shot and he allowed them to film on campus even appearing as mentor to the contestants. When the show debuted in 2004, it quickly became an international phenomenon catapulting Gunn to celebrity status overnight.
With multiple TV shows and appearances under his dapper belt as well as two books including his latest, Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible, it would seem that the talented star has it all. Surprisingly, Gunn remains humble and candid always striving to be better and to make it work in his life. We recently caught up with everyone’s favorite style guru to discuss his habits, from the trouble with snacking to the importance of cleaning out your closet.
What’s the one habit you have that changed your life for the better?
I never snack; I only eat at mealtimes. I spend a good portion of my life on sets where heaping mounds of craft services abound. It’s so easy to open a bag of chips. The next thing you know, you have cupcake frosting around your mouth. I have a refrain about this matter and it pertains to donuts: one is too many and a dozen aren’t enough. Don’t get started.
What’s the one habit you have that’s not so great?
I buy way too many clothes and accessories. I use being a fashion guy as an excuse, but it troubles me. Furthermore, I live in a closet-challenged NYC apartment. So, when a new item enters, something has to leave.
What’s your naughtiest habit?
Fibbing to people about why I can’t meet them for dinner or other evening get-togethers. I spend my days engaging with myriad people at a fairly frenetic pace. When I have nights to myself, I do all that I can to protect the awaiting solitude. People don’t understand the truth (trust me, I’ve tried it), so I lie.
What’s your secret (or not-so-secret) style habit?
When I find a brand that I love, I become an addict.
What’s a habit you wish you had?
I wish I had the desire to acquire a larger inner circle of friends, the habit being to constantly expand that circle. I have a handful of people who are close to me. I feel emotionally sated by these great individuals, and possess no desire to have more. Those are limiting circumstances.
What three habits should every person adopt?
Accept responsibility for what you wear. No excuses, ever.
Conduct a regular closet inventory (ideally every six months), the purpose being to prioritize items in your wardrobe and purge yourself of things that you don’t wear. Give them away if they’re in good shape.
Be mindful of personal health: Have an annual physical and exercise regularly, even if that is just walking (my regimen of choice).
What three habits should every person break?
The comfort trap: I’m not uncomfortable in my clothes, but it’s not like wearing pajamas, either. If you want to dress to feel as though you’ve never left your bed, then don’t!
Fashion inappropriateness: If you’re asking yourself, “Am I too old to wear this?,” then you probably are.
Fashion slavery: Just because skinny jeans are in, doesn’t mean you have to wear them. Ditto the color eggplant, the gladiator sandal, or Uggs. Be yourself!