on Making it Work


Tim Gunn, best known as the co-host of Project Runway, is a man of civility, style and grace. He is a consummate gentleman and always somehow, the best dressed man in the room. His book “Gunn’s Golden Rules; Life’s Little Lessons For Making It Work” is a peek into his particular kind of genius. It is part etiquette guide and part industry dish, but it is also filled with surprisingly solid advice for a well-lived life.

I originally picked up this book for my sister Bullish or at least I thought I did. After all, she is the family fashionista, while I am the queen of oversized t-shirts and sweatpants. It may seem strange then, that I am also the one who has watched every episode of every season of Project Runway. Initially, it was an ongoing interest in the creative process , which drew me to the show as well as the possibility of “figuring out” fashion once and for all. I’ll admit right quick, that I still don’t understand fashion, am perhaps more confused by it than ever, but I enjoy the show and the process nonetheless.

These last two years, I have coerced Bullish into watching the show with me. Her favorite bit is near the end of each season, where Tim Gunn visits each of the finalists and critiques their collections a couple of weeks before the finale. His ability to give an honest critique and encouragement to the frenzied designers has earned him big mushy props from us both. The “Make it work!” which has become his catchphrase simply encapsulates the idea of finding a solution to a dilemma with creative thinking and determination.Among the books “little lessons” are the following (each one elaborated upon with charm, wit and wisdom):

  • The world owes you nothing
  • Take the high road
  • Don’t abuse your power or surrender it
  • Get inspired if it kills you
  • Never underestimate Karma
  • Niceties are nice
  • Physical comfort is overrated
  • Be a good guest or stay home
  • Use technology, don’t let it use you
  • Know what to get off your chest and what to take to the grave
  • When you need help, get it
  • Take risks. Playing it safe is never really safe.

“Gunn’s Golden Rules…” cannot help but be a book about fashion, but it is likewise a book about living life with dignity, civility and of course, style. If anything can get me out of sweatpants more often, it just might be this:

“You’re navigating a world where you need to have your wits about you. If you’re in a lackadaisical comfort haze, you can’t be engaged in the world the way you need to be.”

Thanks Tim. Carry on!


*[cross-posted at Shoestring With Style]

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2 Responses to on Making it Work

  1. Patricia says:

    I love Project Runway, love watching the process and seeing the results. My favorite parts of the show are definitely Heidi and Tim though. Without either of them, I don’t think the show would pull me in much at all.

  2. M. says:

    And since you need someone to give you guidance- you pick a fashion runway for your wild feet to qualify? Tells me you couldnt be that lost. – just sayin’ skew-ca-bob.

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