Fashion expert Stacy London says personal style starts with self-acceptance.
"You can't have style unless you are willing to accept your body. That's the only way to dress yourself. Style is not something that you wave a wand over somebody and make them look better," Ms. London said.
Yet Ms. London works makeover magic weekly on TLC Network's hit "What Not to Wear." She and co-host Clinton Kelly are the network's fashion police, showing style-challenged women how to dress appropriately for their age, occupation or body type.
Ms. London will be in Chattanooga on Saturday as a featured presenter at She, An Expo for Women sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. (The featured guest Sunday, July 12, is cooking expert Paula Deen.)
"Stacy will do a 45-minute presentation on fashion at 2:30 p.m. (Saturday) followed by a 15-minute Q&A with the audience," said Angela Doggett, events manager for the newspaper. "She'll also have a book signing/autograph session at noon that day."
Combining a keen wit with unabashed opinions about fashion that her fans rely on, Ms. London talked style in a recent telephone interview.
"I love to talk with the audience. I warn you now, if you are coming to see me, dress well. And if you don't, we'll have a big fat discussion about it," she promised.
Q: You've dressed stars (Kate Winslet, Katie Holmes) and the average woman on the street ("What Not to Wear"). Who's more difficult to please?
The celebrites by far. When you're a celebrity, you're always under a microscope; in particular women. Not only are they looked to as icons on what's the most trendy style, they are under so much pressure to look a certain way for their job. That takes the fun out of style.
Q: Do you believe in following fashion fads?
As a rule, I do not believe in trends. They are not the predictor of what you should be wearing. Trends should be filtered through your personal perspective. I use three filters: age, lifestyle and body type. If the trends works for you on all those levels, wear it.
Q: The worst fashion fads?
Shoulder pads, even though they were on all the runways for fall, and stirrup pants.
Q: What were some of your fashion mistakes?
I'm not gonna lie, there are too many to count.
But when I was 10, I had a Norma Kamali romper I was really proud of -- in baby pink with balloon shorts and removable shoulder pads. Basically, it was like a big, pink onesie. I wore it with opaque white tights, black shoes and big button earrings.
Q: Although black separates are the staple of New York City wardrobes, women in the South love bright colors. What's your advice for wearing color to the best advantage?
I celebrate the fact the South is known for brighter colors. What I worry about is when you put too many bright colors together, or wear all-over huge patterns that detract from the natural beauty of the woman. The best way to wear bright color is keep it focused. Wear color on the most flattering part of your body.
Always mix bright colors or patterns with a neutral, which will anchor the outfit and give it more life. For spring/summer I like lighter neutrals: khaki, pale gray, even light blue. Denim jeans or a skirt are great options.
I'm not big on patterned pants or bright solid pants. Most women carry weight in tummies, thighs or tush; why would you want to call attention to that?
Q: The economic downturn has made it cool to shop consignment stores. What tips do you have for buying second-hand apparel?
The same tips for women going to the most expensive couture houses: Make sure whatever you are buying fits well or can be altered to fit perfectly. Don't buy something because it's on sale, buy it because it looks good on you or will work with other pieces in your closet. You can find great stuff at consignments as long as you are a smart shopper. Otherwise, you're just throwing away money.
If You Go
What: She, An Expo for Women
When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 11; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 12
Where: Chattanooga Convention Center
Two-day tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at door; $10 children ages 6-12
For tickets: www.timesfreepress.com