Style Truths with Stacy London

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STYLE SAVVY STACY LONDON is not your average fashionista. While she can fire off the trends of the season and runway must haves, London is less concerned about making sure women keep up with the latest fashion and more about helping them create a personalized look that makes them feel good from the inside out. In her recent memoir and style guide, The Truth About Style, London opens up about her own personal battles while working with nine ordinary women struggling to overcome their own. Using style transformation as a tool for recovery, London explores how regaining control of one's individual fashion resonates in the greater aspects of life. We caught up with London at her October 12th book signing at Westfield San Francisco Centre where, after commenting that her hair looked especially magical in person, we got down to business, talking style truths, Derek Lam, and how most photo spreads end up as fish wrapping.

Q:

What have you found to be women's biggest hurdle to overcome when it comes to creating their personal style?

A:

Oh my god, there's more than one! But if I was going to generalize I would say that the biggest hurdle women share in common is getting outside their own heads. It has nothing to do with body shape, it has nothing to do with age, it has nothing to do with budget. We say those are the things, but those are the things that we've told ourselves are the problems. So I really think part of the problem, and part of the reason that I wrote the book, was to talk about the mindsets that will put us in a place where we can't get to our style, where we get in our own way. So that is the biggest dilemma; that women psych themselves out with a myriad of different types of issues but it's the fact that they're doing that instead of getting out of their own head.

Q:

As you say in your new book, and as we've seen on What Not to Wear, fashion can be a really intimidating thing for many. What's a first step someone can take towards style without feeling too overwhelmed?

A:

First of all, fashion and style are two different things which is one of the things I say at the beginning of the book and that is really important for me to make clear. I love fashion as an industry. I think it's great. I love that it's creative . I love that it changes every six months. If you have ADD it's one of those things where you know you're always going to see something new. But style is really about starting with yourself. It's not about what the fashion industry is necessarily doing. Trends are going to be there whether you want them or not. That's what's going to be in stores. Style comes from self knowledge and self acceptance. That's where you start. Whatever the fashion industry is doing doesn't matter that much. I don't want to get into the whole thing about how we live in a culture that prizes youth and weight and wealth. There is a problem with that, but that's a separate conversation. When it comes to creating your own style I think it really does start with you. We have lost a sense of our own autonomy when it comes to fashion. We've become slaves to fashion in the sense that we allow the industry to dictate how we're going to feel about ourselves, and that to me is insanity. There's a zillion other industries going on that are exclusive or that we don't have anything to do with, and we don't let that dictate the way that we feel about ourselves. So for me, what we should be taking from the fashion industry is seeing what's available to us every season with the trends and saying, "I pick and choose this for me. This is what works for me." Not being told you have to wear orange, because orange is the color of the season, if it's not your color!

Q:

Now you're everyone's "go to" for style 101, but what's the best style advice you've ever received?

A:

That's a good question! What's the best style advice I've ever received? I don't know! I need to think about that one! I've been giving style advice for so long I don't remember! Let's come back to that.

Q:

Ok we'll come back to that! We'll do a fun one-what's your last great purchase? Is there one that stands out? A recent one?

A:

Oh, don't even get me started! There's a couple. I was wearing a jacket yesterday that I'm kind of obsessed with. It's tweed, three quarter sleeves and green white and navy, which for some reason I think of as old lady colors and I never thought I could pull them off. It's by Derek Lam, and I just loved it. And I wore it with two different outfits yesterday. One that was with a Derek Lam silk printed skirt in the same color palette, so it was mixing print and texture. But then I wore it with a burgundy leather skirt and a green sweater last night, and I thought "God, for something that looks like it can only do one thing it had so much versatility.

Q:

Sounds very cool. Shall we go back to the best style advice question?

A:

I'm really trying to think! I've had so many great style mentors over the years and I feel that the best advice I ever got wasn't about what to wear. It was about how to feel. I was complaining to an old boss who I assisted. He was a stylist. And I was saying that I had just started doing my own work. I had just started testing with photographers. And I'd get all this great clothes in and we'd discuss and have a vision for the story. But the photographer, in the middle of the shoot, decided she didn't want to do what I wanted to do. We planned this whole studio story, and she takes it outside in the streets of Chinatown. And I was like but the clothes don't work in the streets of Chinatown. I was so frustrated. And my boss, who was an incredibly successful stylist, said. "Stacy, seriously, you can't get your knickers in a twist over things like that. You're the stylist. You're not the photographer. You're not the boss. You can only do so much. And even when your pictures are printed in magazines, the next day someone is going to wrap fish with that paper! So don't take it all so seriously!" That was some great advice.