I could have picked a timeless classic to celebrate National Book Month, but instead, I decided to nominate Tim Gunn’s “Fashion Bible,” which details the fascinating history of everything in your closet. National Book Month, as alive now as it was during its conception 63 years ago, is all about recognizing literary excellence. Gunn achieves exactly that in his odyssey through the history of fashion. “It’s rare that people think about what their clothes signify about their place in the world or their priorities,” he writes. “To me, dismissing fashion as silly or unimportant seems like a denial of history.” I couldn’t agree more with his opinion that “your clothes reflect how broad your life is … Get out there!”Moreover, in his book, Gunn doesn’t leave guys out of the picture: “There is nothing mutually exclusive about being manly and putting some thought into your appearance.”
In the early 1940s, no one dreamed about being seen in public wearing a T-shirt, which is one of today’s central constituents of people’s clothing. Rebellious actors and celebrities acted (no pun intended) against society and transformed the seemingly basic piece. “The T-shirt has often been a symbol of raw sex appeal and also of liberation for women,” Gunn writes. He jokes in the book, “I once had another fashion victim tell me, ‘This T-shirt cost twelve thousand dollars!’ What difference does that make? If that’s the message you want to send about yourself and your fashion sense, you should wear the price tag, or that should be the message on your T-shirt: ‘Hi. This T-shirt costs more than a semester of college.’ Or: ‘Hi. I have money to burn. Please help me get rid of all this wealth.’”
It’s not often that we question the color of denim jeans that lurk in our closets. But according to Gunn, it turns out people today could be spotted walking around in gold jeans if the use of indigo dye in clothes hadn’t originated 80 years ago. Imagine that. Just a few decades ago, these versatile bottoms were looked at quite differently. “When I was a kid…jeans were even on my elementary school’s list of forbidden apparel and accessories,” Gunn writes about the pants. “It was like walking with two leg braces; I couldn’t bend my knees.”
To celebrate the incredible fashion expert and author Gunn, my friends and I hosted “Project Runway” night. Food and drinks completed the experience as we watched him mentor the designers and save them from disaster on the show. As some of the weirdest and unexpected designs were born, he uttered a few of his famous lines from his book. In his “Fashion Bible,” Gunn sure made it work.