It’s got to be every fashionista’s dream come true-a style consultation with fashion guru Tim Gunn, that savvy, cool, oh-so-chic co-host of “Project Runway.”
Baton Rougean Aim?e Broussard and her fellow Louisianian Erika Lehmann recently experienced that dream. The two bloggers were the lucky winners of the Tide Wardrobe Makeover, which whisked them away to New York City for an amazing 24 hours of fashion, fashion and more fashion.
In her blog, http://alilblackdress.blogspot.com, the 31-year-old Broussard describes herself as a “Southern newlywed with an out-of-control obsession with shopping, baking and entertaining” whose blog is an attempt “to live, learn and laugh along the way.” The Alexandria native has called Baton Rouge home since the end of 2008. For six years she lived life out of a suitcase as she traveled for State Farm Insurance. Last June, she married husband Brian, and, with the pressure of having to work full time eased, quit her job in November to “try and figure out what makes me happy.”
Now in the blogging world, Broussard received an email from the New Orleans Marketing Association inviting her to a bloggers conference in Mandeville. Torn as to whether to make the trip, she looked at who was on the panel and discovered they were all bloggers living in Louisiana. “I follow a lot of popular bloggers but I didn’t realize we had people here with ?out-of-control’ followings,” added Broussard.
Back home after meeting some of the bloggers at the conference, she started pulling up some of their websites, including Lehmann, of Covington. As the creator of http://www.chicshopperchick.com, Lehmann, who also blogs for http://www.lifetimemoms.com, had been approached by the makers of Tide detergent to share her spring cleaning resolution for her closet and wardrobe with her readers for a chance to win a trip to New York City with one of those readers for a spring wardrobe makeover with Gunn.
Broussard took the bait and wrote a “little blurb” about how she was going to stop fearing her closet and was going to seriously go through it and follow that old adage, “don’t put anything new in unless you throw something out.’’ Then she quickly forgot about it as she went about living her life. She was reminded, though, when she got an email from Lehmann that read, “I won the Tide Wardrobe Makeover? and so did you!”
“I really didn’t believe it at first,” said Broussard, adding that not even the exchange of several emails with the public relations people for Tide’s parent company, Procter & Gamble, requesting photos and more information drove the point home.
“One day, I get an email that says Tim Gunn’s stylist needs more detailed information about my measurements and sense of style, lifestyle, etc., and that’s when it started to become real,” she said. “His stylist was shopping for us. It was a snowball effect from there.”
From the time they were notified they had won the wardrobe makeovers until they left for New York City was a short two weeks. They didn’t even have an itinerary until the day before they caught their flight.
In the 24 hours spent in the Big Apple, they had to try on every piece of clothing the stylist had pulled to determine which looks worked best. Broussard and Lehmann each got five looks that defined her individual styles: an everyday “go-to” look, the obligatory little black dress and three other “basic spring-related” ensembles. One look, “Keep your Whites White,” had to include a major white-element “since it was a Tide event.”
“Without ever having met us, the stylist really got it right. She had read our blogs to get a feel for our personalities,” said Broussard. “Erika’s more dressy; her clothes had more structure. Mine are very wearable. I was the fun factor of the little black dress; Erika looked like she was ready to go to someone’s wedding.”
In one of the women’s ensembles, Gunn talked about mixing patterns with stripes. “That was kind of a biggie,” added Broussard. “He also talked about wearing bold colors and skirt length, where to aim for your height.
“In one of the looks I’m wearing a navy and white almost tweedlike skirt, then a navy and white top and a red blazer,” said Broussard. “It looks busy apart but works when you put it all together.”
Gunn reminded Broussard and Lehmann that style is always evolving, even admitting that several years ago he probably wouldn’t have worn the outfit he was sporting the day of the taping. “They put me in a red eyelet dress I never would have worn,” confessed Broussard. “It was way too busy the way they had it styled, but everyone who’s seen the photo of me wearing it, loves it. I’m having to re-think how I dress.”
Gunn also shared his golden rule of fashion, a succinct three words: style, proportion and fit. “He said you should shop for clothing that fits your personal style and body proportion, and make sure it fits your body shape,” shared Broussard.
Lehmann, who is planning her second wedding, inquired about wearing white the second time around. While Gunn said it’s her day and she can wear what she wants, he advised that no bride should ever wear white because it doesn’t look good on anyone. Instead, opt for an ivory- or champagne-colored gown.
One of the many questions asked in the emails to try and determine Broussard’s sense of fashion was what was her staple piece. At first she didn’t have a clue but, as she looked back over the photos she was sending them, she noticed a trend-cardigans. “Cardigans are my staple piece,” she said. “A lot of my outfits (selected by Gunn’s stylist) were separates-skirts, tops and 10 new cardigans.”
You see, not only did Broussard and Lehmann get to spend the afternoon getting great spring/summer fashion advice from Gunn, they also got to keep the clothes and the shoes-$5,000 worth. “Anything the stylist had chosen we could take,” said Broussard. “I don’t know where the stylist shopped because they had an insane amount of stuff. I had 10 pairs of shoes, I know because I was photographing them all. I get real excited about shoes.”
It wasn’t until she was back home that Broussard had time to really process the entire adventure. “It’s one of those stories you really have to pinch yourself and say, did this really happen?”
Yes it did and it was all she hoped for and more. After a less-that-perfect experience with Martha Stewart while attending one of her “Dreamers into Doers” seminars in January, Broussard knew firsthand the danger of putting celebrities on a pedestal.
Well, Gunn surpassed all of her expectations. “He’s the most genuine down-to-earth, nicest man; a complete gentleman,” said Broussard. “He talked to us like we were supposed to be there talking with Tim Gunn. He asked our opinion, as women from the South, about nude pantyhose, and the way he processes everything is just like he does on ?Project Runway’ (hand to chin, his arms folded, that pensive expression).”
One of Broussard’s favorite photos from the shoot is when she’s explaining to Gunn about doberge cake. “He’d never heard of it and in this photo I’m moving my hands to explain about the leveler and he’s looking all serious. He’s a really nice guy.”
Neither the clothes nor the shoes have arrived yet and Broussard said she’s getting a little anxious. She’s also waiting for Tide to post the video of the consultation with Gunn on its Facebook page in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, she’s making sure she doesn’t have to apologize for how she’s dressed. She said Lahmann’s blog explains it best.
“According to Tim, there really is no excuse for a lack of style. If you aren’t going to put effort into your appearance, then fine, but don’t make excuses for it later. Either you make an effort with your appearance or you don’t.”