Tim Gunn: How to Dress for Different Body Issues

The Project Runway style guru answers all your style conundrums. This month, he talks about looks that work for everything from skinny legs to athletic frames.

Slim Pickings

"I have skinny legs. For years I've been self-conscious about them. But now I'm finding the courage to wear skirts. Any advice on what cut of skirt and shoes I should wear so that my legs are not so noticeable?"

At this point in my life, I'm grateful for any part of my body that's skinny! At the same time, I have empathy for anyone who is self-conscious about body issues. So wear your skirts to the knee. If you wear them higher, then you may exacerbate the thinness of your legs. If you wear them longer, then you risk looking dowdy and matronly. Regarding footwear, boots are very in this season, and you're lucky enough to be able to wear any of the on-trend styles. (Many women's calves are too wide to accommodate high boots.) Enjoy!

Hard Body

"I'm a firefighter/EMT, and I've come across some fashion issues as a result of bulking up at the gym for my career. My body has taken on an athletic, masculine form, yet I still maintain my feminine features. I can't find any silhouettes that flatter my figure. Any advice?"

Believe me, I feel your pain. What's wrong with retailers these days? How many women are a size 6? The key to getting your fashion correct has to do with the harmony and balance of three key elements: silhouette, proportion, and fit. With pants, you will be best served by those that fall straight from the widest part of your hip (no flare or taper). If you choose a dress, I recommend wrap styles because they can be adjusted to accommodate the particulars of your shape, and they're feminizing, too. You should avoid anything that is menswear tailored, boxy, or oversized. Silhouette! Proportion! Fit!

Classic and Eclectic

"I love classics like striped shirts, polos, and chinos. But I can never incorporate these pieces into my everyday style without looking like a J.Crew catalog. Can you suggest some pieces I can wear with these classics without abandoning my more eclectic side?"

Frankly, I aspire to look like a J.Crew catalog model, so perhaps I'm the wrong person to respond to your question. In fact, I find it difficult to conjure what you can pair with a polo other than chinos or denim. I suggest that you channel your inner eclecticism through the use of accessories, especially jewelry. Consider one-of-a-kind pieces that really speak to you and resonate with who you are. The same is true for shoes, handbags, and other accessories like scarves. I love a scarf: It can be used as an ascot, it can drape from your shoulders, it can be used as a headband, and it can be tied around your waist as a sash. Just be you!


Send Tim your questions at marieclaire.com/asktim.