Saturday, January 26, 2008

looking good

My new favourite TV program: Tim Gunn's Guide to Style
I'll come out of the closet and confess that I love clothes makeover shows, and I never miss a Friday night date with (the very gay) Tim Gunn. Don't worry, there's no physical attraction [unlike, say, beautiful Jack on LOST - but that's a whole 'nother (homoerotic) story] but Tim's such a charming and charismatic TV presence. He could recite a book of random numbers and I'd slobber. I have this queer fascination with him. Ok, enough with the cheap gay jibes. But it's true, I could sit on the couch with a beer and a fag (and a cigarette) and watch Tim all day.

As a fashion professor, mentor, advisor and critic, Tim's emminently credentialed to discourse on all matters chic and elegant. Even at first glance, the ever suave Tim has enormous cachet. Would you trust a hairdresser with an unkempt mop? a make-up artist in clown face? or a stylist with a vinyl, polka-dot jacket? Exactly! Tim, always impeccably attired, knows his stuff. We love and laud both him and sidekick, model Veronica Webb, as they weekly rescue a woman from dowdy, slovenly self-doubt. Along her journey, old habits, attitudes and wardrobe are discarded. A pep-talk, shopping spree, haircut and facial later, she emerges butterfly-like into jubilant luminous goddess-hood.

Tim the guru teaches us many things. The ugly-duckling turned Cinderella motif is more than mere fairy tale; transformation is an archetypal experience. We all undergo metamorphoses from infanthood, through adolecence to adulthood and beyond. I went from skinny kid, to athletic teen, to hefty young adult, to become a 'man of substance' in my middle years (rather a lot of 'substance' actually). You could say I'm 'beefy,' which is kinda like 'beef-cake' (if English is your second language). We gain more than just wisdom with age.

Anyhow, Tim helps us recover from our shrinking aversion to haute couture, a widespread affliction in down-to-earth, egalitarian NZ. C'mon Kiwis, don't be shy to don high-class clothes. There's nothing wrong with top-end fashion labels, we should wear them without demur. I routinely sport clothes with labels (they might say "Made in Taiwan" or "100% polyester" - but they're still labels.)

Although the show's aimed at women, there's lessons aplenty for us blokes. Tim's helped renew my joy in dressing up. I cut quite a figure in a tux, if I may say so, myself (a round-ish figure, that is). But I do look forward to family weddings where I can step out in confidence and in style (and spend the entire reception terrified some drunken fool will spill red wine on my suit, or a cousin's baby will throw up on me).

Most importantly, Tim dispels that most common misconception: "looks aren't important." Whether your apparel is a statement, an armour, a veil, or a uniform, our vesture connects us to nature. Primping, preening, and showy displays of courtship are our biological heritage. The animal kingdom, too, regularly moults, sloughs skin, discards shells or (like my sister) sheds scales. Yes, it's true that our bodies are but temples (or in my case: a multi-storey temple with a courtyard, gardens and an adjoining carpark) in which inhabits our souls. But still, let's try to keep our temples well-coiffed and immaculate.

Revamp yourself, and your wardrobe, and your TV schedule! Watch Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. You have nothing to lose but your tastelessness... and your platform boots... and that canary yellow waist-coat... and those gawdawful crushed-velvet harem pants!

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