WHOWhatWhereWhy: Stacy London encourages self acceptance, style in new book

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For nearly 10 years, Vogue veteran and style guru Stacy London has been helping fashionably challenged women purge their wardrobes and start anew on TLC's "What Not to Wear." But being stylish is more than just sporting the latest trends, she says.

In her new book, "The Truth About Style" (Viking, $32.95), Ms. London invites readers to accept their bodies, relationships, age, successes and shortcomings and dress in a way that empowers them.

"We don't need another how-to book when it comes to dressing ourselves."

Instead, in 200-plus pages of colorful photos and memoir-meets-style advice prose, she encourages people to ask themselves: What is my stumbling block? What is keeping me from embracing and improving myself?

"If you can see something differently, you can feel differently," Ms. London says. "You're willing to accept where you are, and that sort of changes the way we approach style."

The book is a tapestry of personal tales from nine women of varied backgrounds selected from almost 1,000 responses Ms. London received to requests on Facebook and Twitter. Depression, weight gain, eating disorders, failed relationships, battles with breast cancer and faulty confidence dot their experiences.

"I really believe there are facets in all of these women that were reflected in all of us," Ms. London says.

She applies the "Yes! ... And?" mantra to these women's lives, illustrating that style can be used to celebrate rather than shun or hide their traits. A leather jacket, for example, can become a suit of armor. Or bold colors and patterns can rekindle a sense of inner joy.

"Style is a great way to be brave and take chances," she says. "It's very little risk with kind of great return."

The 10th woman readers learn about is Ms. London, who is candid about her challenges, from growing up with severe psoriasis to struggling in college with anorexia, and the role fashion played in coping with and overcoming them. These are sides of her that people don't typically get to see on "What Not to Wear," where she is a style coach who seems to always have the right answers when it comes to clothes and self image.

The show is "part of who I am. That's not all of who I am," she says. The book "was another opportunity to dimensionalize myself."

In doing so, she hopes readers feel a sense of kinship with her and the other women featured in the book.

"I ... want women to feel like they're not alone."

The feedback she has received so far has been strong and unexpectedly personal and emotional at times.

"It's kind of turned into this sort of awesome knitting circle," she says. "People get up and share, and the book has been this incredible vehicle to get people to talk about things that you wouldn't normally hear at a book signing."


Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com.


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