The secret weapon that separates Project Runway from all other reality shows is, in fact, a Gunn. Tim Gunn. Mr. Gunn, for whom I believe I have professed my love on this blog at least once before, plays the role of mentor to the contestants on the show and is famous for his terribly proper but somehow warm and self-aware persona. (Here he is on YouTube.)
Caitlar gave me Tim Gunn's book, A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style for my birthday, and obvi I've already read it cover to cover. The book is great, and probably the best part of it is the various historical, philosophical, and mythological allusions Tim makes when explaining the concepts of fashion. Below are a few of my faves.
On the "language" of clothing:
"Although I'm not a fan of Roland Barthes, I do subscribe to his theory that language is a self-contained system of signs."
On dressing one's age:
"The only thing sadder [than women trying to look like teenagers] is an older man, lifted and tucked, dyed and coiffed, and all dandied out. These Gustav von Aschenbachs make me want to weep."
On avoiding the pitfalls of emotional shopping:
"The Calvinists out there may shudder at such a shallow thought, but even another $25 lipstick is a better deal than a $250 sweater bought out of frustration, boredom, or unhappiness."
From the section, "The Theoretical: Kierkegaard in Your Closet:"
"Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Danish philosopher, opera lover, and the man Ludwig Wittgenstein called 'the most profound thinker of the nineteenth century,' can actually be a huge help when it comes to curing one's closet."
On smart shopping at discount trend stores like H&M or Forever 21:
"The key to shopping these bargain Ngorongoro Craters is to have a plan. Let us stay with our crater metaphor for a moment. The Ngorongoro, by the way, is in Tanzania, adjacent to the Serengeti. All sorts of animals live in or pass through the crater: it is a busy place, much like H&M. The question you must ask yourself as you prepare to shop is this: Am I an ungulate or a big cat?"
Yes, that is exactly the thing you should be thinking as you walk through the doors of H&M. That and, "How do I get past the woman at the kiosk with the $20 nail buffers who is impossible to say no to," of course. But the latter might just be my own problem. Either way: I love you, Tim.