Recently, I discovered the Man Repeller chatroom interview with Stacy London, a stylist/fashion consultant known primarily through her reality television program What Not to Wear. Before transitioning into being a stylist, London graduated from Vassar College as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In short, London started her career as a fashion editor at Vogue (#goals). London’s life seemed smoother than a morning avocado paleo smoothie until I read her book The Truth About Style.
The Truth About Style consists of ten case studies about the obstacles that hold women back from dressing in the best authentic way possible. The obstacles include fear of judgement and failure, but also, London includes a case study of a woman who suffered from an eating disorder.
London opens the book with a case study of herself; that’s when I first encountered her adversities. London was diagnosed with psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that forms thick scales and itchy, red patches. Consequently, London’s been bullied in her teenaged years. Luckily, medication helped her to recover from psoriasis as she transitioned into adulthood. However, in short, London struggled with an eating disorder called anorexia. In her skinniest years, 5’7″ tall London only weighed ninety pounds. When she was accepted to Vogue, her colleagues suggested that she gain some weight, and London gradually became fleshy, and eventually, she became the fleshiest woman at Vogue.
During her overweight years, London felt extremely insecure about her body image. At Vogue, she tried hard to cover three assistants’ job as well as trying to be the class clown. Furthermore, London displaced her insecurities into defensive dressing. She tried to conceal her new body curve by wearing flannel shirts or big peasant skirts, without knowing what defensive dressing was actually doing.
The overweight era didn’t last for a long time. London came back to her normal size, and she’s healthier than ever. London dealing with weight fluctuation helps her to better understand what it is like for women to feel discouraged or depressed when trying to dress up in the best authentic way possible. Through the show What Not to Wear, London has definitely learned what most women were doing to conceal their flaws. It’s defensive dressing.
Now, London definitely empathizes with her clients in What Not to Wear, because she too tried to dress in a defensive way while working at Vogue. However, she brings up an interesting point in the Man Repeller chatroom interview. London says,”When people dress in an extreme way, the message they want to convey is actually the message that’s being conveyed.”
Here is an example: I have a curvy body shape, and I feel insecure about my big butt, so I decide to wear a pair of boyfriend jeans with some long black t-shirt that completely conceals my butt. But it’s most likely that people will think “Wow, she hates her ass.”
And I certainly don’t want people to know that I have a big ass, right? According to London’s advice, I need to spend less time on trying to conceal my big butt. Instead, I need to be a little more self-aware of my long neck or slim waist so that I can highlight them with a signature v-line white top and a pair of high waisted jeans.Ultimately, London’s point is that self-awareness is key to great style. Knowing what fits right for your body type and picking/choosing from trends is important.
I want to end with an excerpt from the interview. These are London’s words:”The fashion industry is built on insecurity. They want to sell on the idea that we’re not good enough, but we can change that by taking a little bit of the autonomy and saying, “this is what works for me, for my body, for my shape, for my age, and for my style.“