Wow, ladies. I am thrilled to have Carson Kressley, fashion makeover expert, TV personality, author, and Fairygodstylist as the kickoff guest of my new podcast, 7 Days to Amazing.
If you ever wanted to know how to add the right extra something in your wardrobe to make you feel sexier in your own skin and unleash your personal style, you are in the right place! Tons of fun and frank takeaway tips on amping the style in your life. You don’t want to miss this episode.
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Announcer: Welcome to the Seven Days to Amazing Podcast where you learn how to make your life, business and style even more amazing in the next week! Now your host, Sharon Haver, of FocusOnStyle.com.
Sharon Haver: Hello chicsters, I am Sharon Haver and you are about to be amazed. I have a very special guest on today’s episode of Seven Days to Amazing. I am sure he is a familiar face to many and actually to those who don’t really know him just yet; well you will most certainly want to read his new book, which is a play on words I know I say almost every day. I mean just ask my husband!
Carson Kressley is an Emmy Award winning TV personality, style expert, fashion designer and New York Times Bestselling author. Best known for his years as a fashion expert on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy where he was one of the show’s fab five. Carson has many current and upcoming projects including: Logo TV’s Rupaul’s Drag Race, All Stars Celebrities Family Feud and of course his new book “Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big”, a cheeky guide to feeling sexier in your own skin and unleashing your personal style.
Carson is also starring on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice scheduled for airing in January 2017 and he began his career as an independent stylist and worked with major designers including Ralph Lauren. A few years later he then took a leap into television in 2003 when he gained great exposure as the fashion savant on Queer Eye, which won him a Primetime Emmy.
Carson has frequently appeared on talk shows as a fashion critic, commentator, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly and Michael, The Queen Latifah Show, Bethenny, and The Wendy Williams Show.
Carson has also hosted multiple TV shows, including Lifetimes’ How to Look Good Naked, ABC’s True Beauty and competed on several reality competition shows, such as Big Brother Australia and the thirteenth season of Dancing With The Stars.
Whoosh! Let me catch my breath. Welcome Carson Kressley, I am thrilled to have you here with us today.
Carson Kressley: Thanks Sharon, I am glad to be here.
Sharon Haver: Thank you. So you’ve got quite the impressive bio. Everything from a gazillion TV shows, to an Emmy, to your new book and your other book. How did it begin, how did you start out being everybody’s best fairy godfather stylist? How did you start in here and just “tszuj” up America?
Carson Kressley: I always loved clothing and I grew up outside Allentown, PA in the 1970’s and I loved television back then and I loved Roda and I loved The Brady Bunch; all the stuff I didn’t really see where I was growing up I would watch it on TV and be like “Gosh, that’s so fabulous” and I just always loved it. I had a very fashionable mom, she still is, and she just would get dressed up because that’s what you did back then. We went to a friends cocktail party and I remember she would go in long Bob Mackey kind of cocktail gowns or hostess gowns to these parties and people just don’t do that anymore. So I just thought that world was pretty glamourous and I was fortunate I had a mom that said you dress up on the weekends to go to church, you know you wear this to go to dinner, this is what you wear when you’re playing. We had wardrobes for different things and we were very middle class, so not fancy, but it was a different time.
Sharon Haver: Yeah, I totally agree with you. I actually came from a background where we had, I don’t want to call it rules, but we had sort of situations, we didn’t come from a lot of money but we learned how to make the most of what we had. I was kind of raised on the floor of Loehmann’s trying to find the best designer clothes on the rack and judging things by their seaming. I owe my background in fashion to my mom too and I think it sounds like it’s the same with you, it just came naturally to you because it was just sort of part of your upbringing.
Carson Kressley: Yeah.
Sharon Haver: I think for so many women it’s different. They didn’t have that; they didn’t have our moms–they’re floundering.
Carson Kressley: I think I…I realized this too when I did Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, I would just give these guys just pretty basic advice, like a blue blazer is going to make everything look better, and if your jeans fit it’s going to be much more attractive, and of course everything needs to be clean and whatnot. So I think at some point guys lost their fashion role models because their dad’s didn’t have to buy them their first suits and they didn’t have to teach them how to tie a tie because no one, a lot of people don’t have to get dressed up anymore and I think probably the same thing has happened with our young women today is that you know, everything is so casual that they didn’t learn a lot of fashion rules from their mom or about clothing construction, or about style, so people are hungry for that information and that was one of the reasons why I wanted to write the book and get it all in there and just provide a road map to finding your own personal style. I didn’t want to tell people buy this, do that. I want to help them navigate this huge fashion landscape we have right now and figure out what looks great on them and what makes them feel amazing and what their signature look can be.
Sharon Haver: Absolutely, I totally agree with you. It’s just so many people I know when I have clients and when I go speaking, they are like “tell me what do I have to have” and it’s like you have to have what works on you, you need to be your own stylist, you need to have…
Carson Kressley: Right.
Sharon Haver: You need to have that ability before. Pick up a magazine you’ll read the three things to buy today, but that’s magazine, that’s editorial, that’s not getting dressed and that’s kind of what I loved about your book, besides the name of it because I was like a pre-Kardashian with “does this butt look big?” You know… so I asked my husband but you know when I was…my best friend Richard, when I was a size 2-4 he would look at me in white pants and tell me I was cinema one and cinema 2. I’m very used to “Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big” does my life make my butt look big? As I am reading your book it resonates so much to me and I know probably to other listeners. Style is more about feeling confident in your skin and not like, is it that shoe or this shoe, yeah those things are important but it’s all part of the big picture and that’s what I think you are trying to impart in “Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big.”
Carson Kressley: Yeah, I wanted to…first of all I wanted to have a funny title because I’m always taking pictures all over the place, a lot of times I’ll capture them “Does this camel make my butt look big?” It’s supposed to be funny and I wanted the tone of the book from the front cover and from the title to be disarming for women. A lot of women would say they are stressed in the morning, they don’t’ know what to wear, they have a million things and they can’t get dressed and the whole fashion things kind of stresses them out. So I wanted to just get people laughing from the start and relaxed and say listen, this should be fun, we’re not curing cancer here, we are supposed to be having fun with it.
So that was the idea, and then to your point about feeling comfortable in your own skin, that’s the start of looking good in anything, any kind of clothing, you really have to be confident in your body, in your skin and with who you are.
I did a show on Lifetime called How To Look Good Naked, in which we gave women these makeovers, they looked phenomenal, then when their confidence was peaking, we would say: You look so good why don’t we do a tasteful nude photo-shoot and then we’ll put your pictures up on a billboard and then all your friends and family will come and see it. And it sounds crazy and it was very “stunty” but it got the job done, because I learned to teach women how to minimize the negative thing and everybody has things they don’t like on their body, their thighs are too big, their butt is too big, or too small or too tall or too short or whatever; so really it’s about minimizing those real or perceived flaws and maximizing the great things that you have going on. I talk about that a lot in the book, that getting comfortable in your own skin is the first step to looking great in clothing.
Sharon Haver: And knowing what works on you. I know one of the things, which is really kind of crazy for me is way back when, when I was a stylist I did a shoot with a bunch of bathing suits… it was a bathing suit competition, I forgot what the name of it was, but like Miss America for swimwear. So here all these girls had these like perfect bodies, and I’m like “Oh my god!” They were shooting me too; I’m like “Oh, great!” I got to stand next to these women. And then they all came in and you thought they were all God’s gift to anatomy, but each one of them had their own little neurosis…”No I can’t wear that, it I’ll make my waist look too wide, no I can’t wear this”…So even though they had great bodies what was more interesting from working with them, is that they knew how to make their body look just incredible. They knew what to take control, where here people would be like “Ah, she’s got a perfect body she can wear anything” but nobody is perfect.
Carson Kressley: No, Everybody has that something and just like you said, learning to dress for your body type, learning what works for you can really boost your own confidence and always keep you looking great in everything that you wear and it’s something I help women navigate through on TV, on makeover shows, but also in the book, like finding those pieces that are right for you, and you alluded to it earlier in your intro. It’s not about what’s on trend necessarily, something might not be trendy, but it might be the best shape for you and I say go ahead and wear it, and you can do something trendy somewhere else, you can have a trendy piece of jewelry, or trendy bag.
Sharon Haver: Trendy haircut, yeah.
Carson Kressley: Exactly, you need a certain kind of haircut to make your face shape look best, you need to really embrace those things that truly rock it out for you and then you can have fun in other places and keep it trendy or keep it colorful, whatever you want to do.
Sharon Haver: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean especially I know when I work with older women entrepreneurs; they’re like “I can’t be trendy, I can’t be trendy” but it’s like but you can’t look like your 1982 high school yearbook photo either. You need to look modern and classic and contemporary and with it, otherwise when you look dated and your…especially it’s a woman in business; if you come walking into a room and maybe you can address this because I know I get this from a lot of women, they look dated, they look like their old yearbook photos, and it’s kind of scary, and they are so afraid to change but they don’t realize in today’s culture your Facebook photo is like someone else’s magazine cover, you are judged in a few seconds so if you come in looking dated and drab, people are just automatically going to assume whatever comes out of your mouth is going to be dated and drab and not with it, and you need to look current so when someone is in that situation where she’s just been ignoring her appearance for so long because she didn’t have to, how does she put the “tszuj” in?
Carson Kressley: That’s a great point, I totally agree that especially business women and people who are out there, your look is often times your calling card and whether we like it or not people judge upon their first impressions and what they see and I think you need to look on brand, you need to look with it and like you know what’s going on. We’re such a fast paced society, and everything is about digital media and you can text something to someone in two seconds, it’s about speed, so looking up to date is really important.
The way to achieve that, if you get in a fashion rut, if you’ve been out of the workplace for a number of years, if you’ve been busy raising your kids and you just haven’t taken the time to take care of yourself, whatever the reason you get out of that rut a couple of different ways. We all get our teeth cleaned a couple times a year, annual physical, you should do the same thing with your clothes, your hair, and your makeup.
For your hair you could see your stylist, you favorite stylist and just say “Listen I know we’ve been doing this for a number of years, if you had a clean slate and the world was your oyster, what would you do?” And then you probably might not want to go that extreme but there might be baby steps towards that, that gets you changing your look and updating.
Same thing for makeup, every town has a department store, we are very fortunate; they have pretty sizeable and impressive beauty counters that have a wide variety of products and beauty experts. They’ll be happy to give you a little make up update 101 and yes they’re going to want to sell you some of their products, you might fall in love with a new product that you didn’t realize, you don’t have to buy the whole array but it’s great just getting a fresh, a new opinion, a fresh set of eyes.
And then for your clothes, I mean I think it’s having, what’s really helpful is having a fashion role model, somebody you know that’s maybe in your field, in business or somebody that’s a celebrity that you relate to, or someone who works at one of your favorite stores who is always put together so beautifully, and see what they’re wearing. If they look up to date you can adapt some of those pieces, maybe it’s an asymmetrical jacket, maybe it’s a really geometric, cool black or gold earring that looks super modern, maybe it’s a stacked heel shoe that just updates what you already have. You can look to those people for clues or you can even see a personal stylist or personal shopper at one of those department stores and it’s something, it seems like a treat, but you should treat it like your medical care and your dental care. Something that you need to invest in for you so you can do your job better, you can feel better about yourself and you can take better care of your family and you can be hotter for your husband. It’s something that you do for yourself, but it has a lot of far reaching benefits I think.
Sharon Haver: Absolutely, and when you started a thing too it’s about your teeth, you go to the dentist. I think another thing that happens with women at a certain age you need to brighten your teeth up ladies. Maybe it’s just a clear red lipstick or maybe it’s just some white strips but that’s one of the easiest things, you can take a few years off your face by just brightening up your teeth right there.
Carson Kressley: I have a thing in the book, it’s called The Quick Instant Makeover Five, and one of those is get a teeth whitening, use whitestrips, brighten the smile, get a blowout, fresh manicure, things that are twenty dollars ish, that can make a big difference, and that’s kind of how I start out the book, and then we talk about obviously getting more in depth with your look.
Sharon Haver: What about if someone is just like, they just don’t even know where to start, like they are so fashion phobic and now it’s like their “Ca-ching” is on the table, they know that in their career they got to step it up. Where do you think is the best place someone can go to step it up?
Carson Kressley: I think if it’s regarding like a job, you have to kind of overhaul your look to really maybe get a promotion or god forbid even just keep your job, I think that’s when you want to…this is an investment, career clothing is a little bit different than just fun sportswear, it’s worth the investment because it’s part of how you make your living.
I think in that situation, really see a professional because they can help you from wasting your money on buying something that’s not appropriate, or that’s not going to last or that doesn’t have enough classic detail to live many seasons for you. See those personal shoppers at your favorite department store. Macy’s has them, Neiman’s has them, any range in between there will have them, and they really do know what they are doing and they’re going to want to do a good job to get you back into the store and to keep you as a client. They really are the pros. Do that.
If you can’t do that, then it’s about doing your homework, get a great magazine that kind of just lays it out, follow, like I was talking about style icons, or style muses or people that you want to be your role model, follow them on Instagram or Pinterest, see what they’re wearing. You just really have to educate yourself. Some people just have an inherent knack for style and they can put things together and they’re interested in it so they keep it up to date and other people need to study more…
Sharon Haver: It’s an awareness issue.
Carson Kressley: Exactly.
Sharon Haver: And I think I know also with style, especially for me and for a lot of people I’ve worked with in my programs and clients, the awareness issue goes beyond clothes, it goes into art, architecture, design, your home, the furniture around you. It’s just opening up your eye and I too believe that. Your own style icons and people to help guide you by just being inspiration, it’s inspiration and awareness. So style is everywhere, I mean you know, you could find Roseanne’s old couch and make it cool if it was in the right setting but if you’re doing a webcam video and you’re trying to sell yourself on Facebook and your entire backdrop looks like the set of Roseanne, you know it’s not…it ain’t gonna fly. So it’s just…style for me is all around, so if somebody just needs to be more aware in their life on a general basis, what do you suggest/to just take them, to just help them open their eyes?
Carson Kressley: I think it’s almost like you know, you almost have to meditate on it and not just sit there quiet and think, but look at images. For me it’s so visual, and Instagram and Pinterest for me are big, they’re really, especially Pinterest because you can follow people that have similar taste and it’s just to me such a rich kind of resource.
Sharon Haver: It is true.
Carson Kressley: And it’s free. Getting out into the stores. I love retail and I call myself a retail enthusiast and I love merchandising. I love that world, but even if I just go walk through Bloomingdales or walk through a good department store occasionally, I see how they’re putting looks together on the mannequins, I see what’s new, I see what trends are emerging and it just really inspires me. Now I don’t buy all that stuff, but I get inspired by seeing what’s out there and a lot of times I’ll say, “Wow I kind of have like a long camel coat that I had from the 90s,” and I’m going to reinvent that because I’m seeing on it display at Bergdorf’s now, it’s cool again sometimes even helps me. Just getting out there, opening your eyes and taking a few minutes in a day if you have an extra five minutes go to an art museum, go to a great store, go someplace that just inspires.
Sharon Haver: Even looking at the great outdoors, looking at flowers. I’m not a fan of pink but sometimes I’ll look at flowers and see that rich fuchsia and I’m like I really like that, and I’ll suddenly find myself wearing a pink blouse the next day that I didn’t even know I owned because I didn’t open my eyes and subconsciously it inspires you.
Carson Kressley: Some of the greatest color combinations in the world are just right outside your door. Like in the spring, daffodils and hyacinths, I love purples and yellows and greys and greens. So yeah, that’s a great point, it’s just you can find inspiration almost anywhere.
Sharon Haver: That brings me to color, I don’t know, this is one of my pet peeves. I have no idea what you’re going to say, so let’s find out. When people say to me “I went to a color therapist and she said I was…I don’t know, I know I’ve been the fifth season, but I’m a Fall or I’m a this. I could never wear black.” What do you think of that stuff?
Carson Kressley: I think some of those have some validity and it’s a good starting point, but I think, I am such a fan of color and I think color is so powerful in the way we feel and the way it kind of reflects back on our face, it affects our complexion, it affects our mood. I don’t want to say to somebody “You can’t wear this color” because they might love that color, and maybe it will look terrible up against her skin, I can’t wear chartreuse yellow/green, it makes me look like I’m fallow and just terrible looking, but I love that color. If I find a suede loafer in that color or a pair of Tod’s driving mocs in that color I get the feeling of wearing that color and I can look down and be like “Gosh you’re so pretty, I love this color, it makes me so happy.” It’s not beside my face where it’s going to be a problem. I think it’s about embracing your favorite colors, learning how to wear your colors and also black is easy, I love black, It’s chic, head to toe, you do a pop of great jewelry like turquoise or pearls or whatever and you can look instantly amazing so quickly but it’s like only living on chocolate cake when there are so many other desserts out there. So I love fuchsia and bright colors and I love head to toe red is amazing, can be very slimming because it’s still monochromatic. I’m not a big believer in rules when it comes to color.
Sharon Haver: Nor Am I. The same thing with color, I love chartreuse also, but I use it as an accent, and I also have like a favorite chartreuse vase in the house that I stare at, by my bed. It’s in other ways, it may not be near my face which makes me look like a canary but someplace else I just think it’s such a happy color.
Carson Kressley: Exactly. Exactly.
Sharon Haver: So, let’s talk about your life a little, I mean I know you’re all over the place between, on and off with TV shows and the books and everything else, but in seven days what does your life look like?
Carson Kressley: Oh, it’s always different, which I love and you know I came to New York and started working for Ralph Lauren pretty soon after college and in those early days I had a very like seven to seven job where I was assisting Ralph Lauren’s brother Gerry, and I didn’t love the monotony of going to the office every day, although it was a wonderful experience and fabulous people and then eventually I started travelling and styling a lot of their catalogue looks, some runway shows, so I got that out of the office moment, but for the last thirteen years working in television and fashion I’ve been more of a freelancer and I’ve had this great schedule, you know everyday is different. You know this week I’ve been doing a lot of talk shows, Wendy Williams, Live with Kelly, I’ll do the same thing in LA next week, so maybe one day I’m doing a talk show promoting a show, I have a new show coming out on Game Show Network called Window Warriors, which I think you’re going to love because it is about the wizardry that happens behind the scenes in creating beautiful store fronts and beautiful window displays.
Sharon Haver: I know that’s quite an art, it really is. To have that whole story in such a limited space.
Carson Kressley: Yeah, so that show, you know. I might take that one day, it’s called Window Warriors, it comes out November. So that’s some things. I usually work on clothing collection or two for either a retailer or a television retailer, so you know, it might be looking at designs, going out and looking at samples, walking the stores, seeing what’s current.
Then some days I love…my big huge hobby is showing horses, so if I am lucky maybe I could escape one day and go to a horse show. I just went to St Louis last week and competed, so that’s a fun thing. And then, It’s kind of always different, I spend a lot time travelling back and forth to LA. So between television projects, book projects, clothing projects, and my horses I’m pretty booked up. And then I do a bunch of… philanthropy sounds so like serious but I sit on the board at Philadelphia University and it’s primarily, it started out as a fashion college and so sometimes I’ll have a trustee meeting or I’ll go to campus and work with students. I do that with three or four other charities. One of which I played for on The Celebrity Apprentice, which comes out in January.
Sharon Haver: That’s pretty amazing. So do you have, because you have one of the most varied, versatile weeks, you’re just so lucky that way, but if you can have your perfect dream seven days, how would you spend it?
Carson Kressley: Oh, perfect dream seven days. I mean there are so many, I mean on a beach in Greece, with some hot guy named Stavros would be great for seven days. But you know I love to work, so I think my dream seven days would probably be hosting a morning talk show five days a week and then going to ride horses every afternoon and then going to my farm in the country for the weekend, that would be like perfection. Maybe the Greek guy named Stavros could be there as well.
Sharon Haver: Yeah, as long as he uses deodorant in the city, right?
Carson Kressley: Sure, Yes.
Sharon Haver: So I think it would be really great to have you on a morning talk show. I know I’d be the one sitting there watching you somewhere between my green tea and my dark coffee or both.
Sharon Haver: So if there were something that you could tell someone, any of the listeners what they can do in their own lives this week, what their take away points can be to make their life just more amazing, what do you suggest that they can do?
Carson Kressley: Oh, I mean a little easy thing is you know, remove all the things in your closet that don’t fit you right now, because when you go to look in your closet and you see all these things that are maybe too small or too big, or they are just kind of like examples of things that aren’t working. It’s much better to start with only things that work, only things that fit and flatter, and that immediately takes the buzz kill out of your morning, you’re immediately met with success and it’s just starts off as a better day. So I think that’s a real easy, it’s an actual thing you can do.
Sharon Haver: Then you say that in your book, you talk about it and call it the Ten Step Closet Enema, which I just love. We are going to be doing some renovation here and I’m like I will be having a huge closet enema myself.
Carson Kressley: Have it.
Sharon Haver: I just love calling it that.
Carson Kressley: And it feels so good.
Sharon Haver: Oh it feels so great, so much lighter. Is that a bad pun?
Carson Kressley: Exactly.
Sharon Haver: So what’s the best way for listeners to connect with you? We have the book, “Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big”, and that’s coming out when? I know that I’m…I read my copy again this morning, it’s just such a beautiful book, and I also, I have to tell you I loved the size of it.
Carson Kressley: Thank you.
Sharon Haver: Yeah, because it’s almost like a magazine size, yet it’s hard covered. It’s an interesting size for a book and there’s something about, for me at least, when you’re holding something, it’s just the feeling you get from it and it just feels very stylish.
Carson Kressley: Thank you.
Sharon Haver: I just love looking at it.
Carson Kressley: We wanted to do fashion illustration so it was timeless, and it’s really a reference book that you can go back to, and you can just read section by section. There are some fun autobiographical things in there about my own, either my own fashion triumphs or fashion foibles and yeah I love the way it looks and the way it turned out. I just wanted it to be pretty to look at and be inspiring, so I really appreciate that.
Fans can find me on social media @CarsonKressley, I’m on Instagram and Twitter, and Pinterest and I don’t know, what else is there? Snapchat, I’m on all of them. You can see what I’m doing in the world of fashion and you can also keep up with when you can watch me on TV.
Sharon Haver: Yeah, and we want to see you and hint hint to anyone listening, we’d like to see you on a morning talk show.
Carson Kressley: I know let’s put that out there in the universe.
Sharon Haver: Let’s put that out there, yeah. And I notice that about you and the horses, you do English, I know, we have a place out west, I try doing Western and I was thinking that I was going to be a barrel racer, but I will really save that for my next life because it wasn’t too successful.
Carson Kressley: I’ve thought that too, no. That’s too fast for me. I’m just, you know.
Sharon Haver: It looks so good. I’ll channel my Dale Evans another way.
Sharon Haver: Thank you for so much for being on the show. This is great and I think there is so many wonderful things that people want to listen to, and besides look at your book time and time again, then I think there is just so much great value in today’s’ conversation that you guys are going to want to listen to this again and get so many takeaways from Carson, and then you have the book to keep with you for the rest of your life and go back to.
So thank you again Carson!
Carson Kressley: You are so welcome.
Sharon Haver: “Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big” and thank you. Great to see you.
Carson Kressley: Thank you so much for having me.
Sharon Haver: Same here. Thank you for being here, talk soon. Bye.
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