Monday, May 21, 2012

Meeting Tim Gunn and Summer Dressing Dos & Don'ts

Kate Spade dress.

This weekend I was lucky to go to a fashion show up at Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and see Tim Gunn of Project Runway. I totally owe this to my husband who was sweet enough to tell me about it  and take me too. It was a fun time and if you aren't from the Bay Area, you should definitely check out this pretty shopping area if you get to Palo Alto or Stanford University. It's just a wonderful place to stroll with the most gorgeous plants and flowers. Stanford also has my favorite place to have lunch, La Baguette a French bakery. They have the best baguette sandwiches with butter just like in France and also pastries to die for...Okay sorry enough about my addiction to all things bread, and on to Tim!

Tim's suit was impeccable.  The grey-blue was handsome on the silver fox!

Can I just say I love this guy? I really do. He has so much integrity. If you see him on the show you know why. He really tries to guide and help these young designers. He does hold fast to his commitment to good taste, appropriateness and being a good person. Even with what he call his, "Old stodgy," standards, the fashion world has embraced him. We need more people like Tim who tells it like it is, designers be damned.  He is the Mr Blackwell for our times, but a heck of a lot more likable.

I thought this Kate Spade outfit was rather funny given all Tim's directions. :)

Saturday he was giving commentary on a fashion show that featured Kate Spade, Juicy Couture and Lucky brand clothes. After, he held a question and answer session. I really enjoyed the fashion show. The Kate Spade outfits were adorable and totally embracing that color-blocking trend. This brand is all about fun with kitschy items like purses made of astro-turf, tennis ball shaped purses and a wicker handbag in the shape of an armadillo! Fun. There are also some gorgeous wearable pieces and dresses that will be classics and are worth the investment. They also had Juicy, a luxury resort brand and Lucky Brand which is very California and boho.

Some Kate Spade color-blocking and a cute dress.

There were men's clothes from Lucky brand.

The astro-turf purse above with more Kate Spade dresses.

Dresses above from Lucky and Kate Spade. Lucky Brand outfit below. 

Tim said straight from the start he wasn't a fan of all the looks from some of these lines. He's honest and called out the dresses and shorts from Juicy and Lucky that shouldn't even be considered by women closer to my age. One cute set featured full-length rompers from Juicy. Anyone with an age of double-digits shouldn't even think about wearing these, Tim admonished. I kind of agree. He also said many of these looks need to be reserved to for the pool and no way should be worn in town by any women.  He also didn't dig the capri pants that are so ubiquitous on American women in warmer months. He thinks they cut off a women's leg where they end and make most women stumpy looking. Long pants or skirts are more flattering he says.

Tim's co-host Leah Salak was wearing a Kate Spade dress and necklace.

When it came time for Q&A, no one raised their hands at first. I jumped right up of course. I wasn't going to pass up a chance to chat with this guy! My question, was if women over 40 should wear shorts at all? What about longer shorts? Tim says he likes longer shorts and they can be quite chic. Soon, people were getting braver and asked more questions. He really spent a lot of time with each person and their question and chatting. He made each person feel special and I guess that is part of his charm. I also learned a lot more about dressing for warmer months and I thought I'd share with you readers too.

The wraps that go over these Kate Spade suits have pom-pom trim. Love that!

Tim Gunn's Tips for Summer Dressing

Rompers- if your age is over single digits, probably not.

Short shorts can be vulgar on women of all ages. The short ones should be reserved for the pool or beach only.

Long shorts can be chic.

Balance skin exposure on your outfits. If you are wearing shorts or a shorter skirt, wear a top that is more covered like a T with long sleeves, a blouse or a jacket. Also, with a sleeveless or more skin-baring shirt, you need a more covered bottom half, like long pants. Exposing too much skin can change a cute look to vulgar quick.

Short dresses are for the young and the pool area. Even young girls should be discouraged from wearing these too short dresses as they can be quite tasteless. Do not try to dress up a long maxi-dress with jewels. He says these and other sundresses are for the pool and are really in the cover-up category, not for a formal occasion at all. (Note to self, maxi-dresses you are now cover-ups! )

Half-tops?!?  Well, I guess these are coming back in style in New York. Tim says it's one of those trends that looks horrible and then people start adopting it. Forget it, no matter how great your body looks. It's about good taste. (I wasn't even thinking of trying this one! Didn't want to scare anyone ;P)

Capri pants are attractive on tall women, but longer pants are always more flattering. Longer capris look better than shorter boxier ones.

Bustier women need to stay away from higher cut necklines in dresses (see the dress in the first photo he used as an example to stay away from),  and tops. These just make you look too top heavy and you are better off wearing a v-neck or something that breaks up that area and therefore, minimizes it. Note he is not talking about a deep plunging neckline here if you were wondering..

Men need to own a few nice ties and every man should have a suit that fits him and he is proud to wear. Fit is huge for suits and you should have help selecting one that can be customized to your body. Too many men wear clothing that is one to two times bigger than they need. This is a real problem and men walk around in horrible baggy clothes. Fit cannot be underestimated for men. He also says men should find a way to express some flair like a pocket square or tie. Men seem to take pride in the fact that they don't own a tie. A sad statement about how our society has become slackers.

Tank tops (never call them wife-beaters, a horrible term, says Tim), are French in origin. In France, the term tank referred to pool, and tank tops were pool attire. They should remain such for men and women, men especially so. These are okay for beach and resort too.

Bottom line on all Tim's advice, is really cover-up a bit more and you'll look a bit better. Don't be compelled to strip it all off as soon as the weather turns warm. Use Europeans as your guide when going out of the home in warm weather. Wear clothes like skirts or dresses, long shorts or button-ups in linen or lightweight fabrics. Don't dress for the pool when you are out and about.

On a side note, another person asked his take on bloggers and their influence on fashion. He said it has really changed the face of fashion and who is shaping it. Bloggers and ordinary people are having such huge influence on blogs, Facebook and even Pinterest and are setting trends now. That said, he thinks it's ridiculous that 13 year olds with fashion blogs are sitting next to Anna Wintour at fashion week and I totally agree.

Loved the Kate Spade swim wear and cover-ups. See the armadillo bag?

It is exciting that regular women are sharing their ideas with us all, and frankly, I'd rather read and see how they look good versus another celebrity in In Style. If I hear again about how J Lo wears her makeup, well, you know what I mean. I like to see how people like myself get it together without a make-up team and stylist. It's much more interesting to me.


You may not agree with all Tim's tips, but looking around me this warm weekend, a few need to take heed, people. I am amazed how quickly everyone bares it all as soon as it gets a bit hot. One of my other pet-peeves is heels with short shorts. My mom always told me that looked a bit tacky. What do you think? I'm not a fan. I always think shorts look chic with flats.

"Make it work!"

Kim :)

Kate Spade trench.


  1. Nice photos Kim. Also great tips from the fashion expert. I will take note of the La Baguette and try to visiti it when we go to San Francisco this summer.

  2. Kim,

    How fun! These are great ideas. I think a sophisticated, airy approach is a good one. Funny that he is recommending we cover more ~ I do agree in most cases. With the tank top.. if your arms are attractive, I think they look great with shorts or jeans.

    Fun post!


  3. LOVE reading all his advice and so agree...I don't feel comfortable wearing shorts and skirts that short - however cute they are! He really does have integrity!

  4. I love Tim! He seems like such a lovely person. Great fashion advice, too!

    Kim |

  5. Cute clothes - I love that red flouncy dress. Not too sure about turf or armadillo-straw purses ... Good for you re speaking up and asking Mr. Gunn such a relevant question about women and shorts. Excellent recap and tip sharing. Thanks again for another great post -

  6. looks like so much fun you were there!! love all the items ;)

  7. AWW thank you for sweet words on my blog:) I like yours to and Im following.

    I hope you will follow me also..I have more swedish inspiration for you:)

    have a great week

    LOVE Maria at

  8. How fun was this...I adore Kate Spade and just tried the trench in the last image. Now I'm obsessed with the dress on Leah!!

  9. How exciting that you got to ask Tim Gunn a question - he is really knowlegeable, but also very kind, and I think he gives Project Runway a quality it wouldn't otherwise have. I read his last book, and there was a hugely funny anecdote about Anna Wintour which has changed how I think about her! And how lovely of your husband to take you.

    His rules are well worth noting, although I have to say we're not so perfect in ol' Europe! You definintely see things on the street that should remain at home! Keeping covered up is always a good idea as you get older, but I don't think you're in that category yet Kim!

    Oh, I have nominated you for an award over at my blog! xxx

  10. I really like him but being a small fry, I suit capris - no heels required hurrah!
    Oh, you should see the topless men here the minute the sun comes out - us Euros aren't what we seem.

  11. Thanks everyone for your kind notes! I appreciate it so much.


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  13. Amazing fashions. I am loving the color red and yellow.

  14. Kim! I don't know how I skipped over this post - love Mr Gunn!

    And now your sweet husband is at the top of my "best guys" list - one thing to point out something he knows you'll enjoy - quite another to escort you to the event! :D