It was a real treat to interview Stacy London from TV show “What Not to Wear” at the Westfield Style Tour. She is warm, fun, bubbly, exuberant, passionate, knowledgeable, instantly likable and a complete natural in front of an audience.
One of the first things that we did after official introductions was high five that being in our forties was extra fabulous (Stacy is 43 and I am 42). I loved that! It was a perfect bonding moment. I also loved Stacy’s openness about herself. I never knew that she had spanned sizes 00 to 16 in her style life. She also happily admits that she had an awkward style stage from age 9 to about 30. She feels that now is the best style stage of her life and it just keeps on getting better. And I’ll high five to that too.
Stacy’s very relatable persona paved the way for a delightful interview that went something like this.
Angie: What is the best thing about your job?
Stacy: Great question! Think outside the box, sister! Well, the more people I meet, the more women I interact with, the more I evolve. There are very few careers where one’s personal development is completely attached to what they get to do every day. It’s SO gratifying and eye opening. It makes me feel connected to people, in a way that I actually didn’t feel very much when I was younger. It’s really very nice to be on the other side of 40, and start to feel a bigger sense of community than I had growing up.
Which are your favourite trends for Fall 2012?
That’s so hard! Okay. I will say that I am having a bit of a leather moment. I got this insane, almost the colour of a cardboard box leather trench coat. It’s SO AMAZING. Truly. And it’s from Helmut Lang. From far away it looks like dull canvas. That’s the thing you know, a few years ago I was feeling things that were a lot harder. I was really into all things Rick Owens. Black leather, black shoes, all dark, and wanting everything to look tougher. But things changed for me last Spring. All these beautiful soft pastels, peplums, the florals and lace felt like fashion was more optimistic. Not that fashion was reflecting our economy, but it was trying to change the psychology of being in this growth recession, which, let’s face it, is still a recession. I loved that it was like fashion leading the charge towards feeling better, instead of you know, hemline lengths depending on whether the stock market was doing well. I started to change and soften my look quite a bit. Now I am much more interested in mixing colours and patterns. A lot less black for me. I’m loving lace. LOVING lace! I love its femininity and want to mix a little soft leather with lace.
I really turned a corner when I turned 40. It’s so much better than my 30s, when I was a lot less certain of myself. I am much more confident and secure with my own power in a way. At 40 I really started to own it, own my quirkiness. I own what is weird and difficult about me, instead of feeling this need to apologize for everything. I see women do this all the time, and it makes me crazy because oh god it took me so long to get here and I want to tell everybody be who you are! Love who you are! I feel like I try to empower women with clothes.
What do you think of all the fun flat shoe styles that have emerged over the last few seasons?
Totally love them! I’m so into a man’s brogue I can’t even say.
(Then Stacy notices my shoes)
Look at your spectators! Okay, SHUT UP! LOVE them! And they aren’t flat! I’m still rocking my heels, you know. But your shoes are so, so incredible. I have my eye on two pairs of flat brogues this season. Back from the ’80s!
We are in an era of fashion that has taken the best elements of decades past and added to it a good dose of ”modern”. It’s up to us to take what’s fashionable and make it reflect who we are in our own way.
Yeah! Yeah! ABSOLUTELY. I really agree with you that 21st century style is becoming something very personal, instead of trends ruling the way people dress. We keep on trying to pinpoint what it is in fashion that is new because trends keep on recycling themselves. But I feel that now, just like you, it’s so much more about what the individual decides to do with fashion that has become the reigning principle.
What is your viewpoint on age appropriate dressing?
It’s essential and I feel very strongly about this. To be completely honest, it’s very tricky when there are a lot of women out there, particularly in their 40s and 50s, who look fantastic for their age. And then it becomes a lot more difficult to navigate that water. These women look so good, have worked hard to look so good, so they want to wear things that show off how much work they have put into exercise and healthy living.
You can never take the age factor away. You always want to look good for your age, but not like you are chasing your youth. Because that has an air of desperation to it. When you think about aging, there is no alternative. The only alternative is to be in the ground! Why don’t we revere aging more? Why don’t we dress in a way that really honours who we are, at whatever age we are. In other societies, age is so revered, but in our culture we prize youth above so much else. At a certain point, no matter how much plastic surgery and botox you have, you are either going to look old or weird. Those are your options. Personally, I would rather age with grace. I’m not against anyone doing anything to look younger. I’m saying just do it with grace. You can’t avoid getting older. Your personal style has got to evolve along with your age and reflect your own self respect.
What are your top wardrobe must haves for Fall 2012?
Oh! Leather, brocade and faux fur for sure! Tweed, pattern mixing, and lots of texture mixing. Lace and tweed, Brocade and tweed. And colour! All sorts of colour, from jewel tones and earth tones to brights and metallics. There’s also a great Asian pattern trend. So chic!
If you could share a quick style tip or two with us, what would they be?
I guess my number one thing would be, (and I am tired of saying make sure your clothes fit and wash your hair): don’t waste a waist. It sounds so obvious but women forget that they absolutely have to define their waist in order to create body shape. Women have waists. Even if they have tummies, you can still define the waist!
And the second one would be, don’t get stuck in your own story. That means don’t get stuck believing things about yourself that may or may not be true – until you try something new. Push yourself into your discomfort zone. Don’t say never, and always try.
And on that note, I asked Stacy what she thought of the oversized trend that has created another very acceptable fit.
The very oversized look is really hard for real people. So, I think the oversized trend has its place. I love a boyfriend jacket, oversized trenches, a boyfriend jean and slouchy trousers, and all these fun things that remind me of thrifting in the ’80s. But my argument is that if you are going to do volume in one place on the body, you have to define the body in another place. Baggy pants with fitted tops. Baggy coats with fitted suits. There are always ways to translate things from the runway back onto real people. It’s this all important interpretation that needs to be made between what the designer is showing as their art, and what we can actually wear as real people.
Stacy and I also had a huge chuckle about wanting a pair of those fashion forward flat high top sneakers because we have fond ’80s fashion memories of them.
I could have yakked with utterly delightful Stacy all day, and was sad to see our time together end. It was extremely enjoyable and I found myself nodding along with Stacy’s answers throughout the interview. A very big thank you to Stacy for taking the time to speak with me from the heart, and for shouting her valuable message from the rooftops. Style can be learned, and we can ALL look and feel fabulous.