Any fashion designer will tell you how important it is to be comfortable in your own clothes. But fashion icon Tim Gunn believes it is even more important to be comfortable in your own skin, especially as we grow older.
“How you dress should reflect who you are,” said Gunn, the 68-year-old producer of TV hits “Project Runway” and “Making the Cut.” “But the fashion industry is so youth-obsessed that it can easily leave you confused as to what you should wear and how you should present yourself.”
Gunn suggests choosing styles that make you feel confident.
“Know who you are,” he said, “and feel proud to present that individual.”
Prior to stepping in front of the TV cameras, Gunn had been an instructor at the Parsons School of Design and was chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne. He assumed that is where his career path would remain.
Tim Gunn’s life-changing phone call
“Who knew that at the age of 50 I would receive a blind phone call from the producers of ‘Project Runway?’” he said. “You never know where life is going to take you, so never say, ‘I’m too old.’”
Gunn never dreamed his high-profile TV career would lead to being named one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive. Nor could he have imagined being turned into a superhero fighting crimes of fashion by Marvel comics. Add to that, he won an Emmy award for ‘Project Runway.’
“All of this has happened in my 50s and 60s,” Gunn said. “I just believe our society’s obsession with youth is such a mistake.”
While Gunn’s life since then has been like a dream, part of his life before was like a nightmare that included a suicide attempt.
“It was many decades ago but feels like it could have been yesterday,” Gunn said. “In those desperate, dark days, I really thought I didn’t need anyone; and I isolated myself in a rarified bubble. It took quite an intervention from many people to turn me into a healthy, positive-thinking person.”
It is why Gunn now has such an appreciation for life now.
Looking forward, the Golden Rule
“People assume I’ve always led a charmed life,” he told Growing Bolder. “But it has mostly been in my 50s and 60s. Even if I could, I would not turn back the clock. Not even one, single second. Because with each day on this planet, I have more experience, I’m a little wiser — I hope — and I feel more confident in navigating the world.”
After all his years as an educator, and now as a mentor, he feels he has much to teach the rest of us — not just about fashion but also about living a good life.
“It sounds so cliché, but it is so important: Practice the Golden Rule of doing unto others,” he said. “Even when you’re frustrated, angry or afraid, take the high road. It is so easy to lash out, to fight; but the only one who gets hurt is you. Be cognizant of your place in the world and always be respectful. We are all in this together. Life is not an individual act; life is a collaboration. Treat each other with kindness and sincerity.”