When I recently stumbled across Nina Garcia’s “Decoding Style” videos the other day, I was struck by the thought that fashion can be used to infuse so much good in the world, particularly in respect to women. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the fashion maven, Nina Garcia is the Fashion Director at Marie Claire and also a judge on the hit TV series “Project Runway.” A well respected fashion critic, Colombian-born Garcia is a force to be reckoned with in the industry. The premise of this series of mini-videos is to reinvent women who are having a tough time defining their style and characterizing their personal identity, in the hopes that they will recognize their true potential and embrace their individuality. The most recent episode features a soccer-mom and recent breast cancer survivor who is struggling to find clothes that flatter her new body and compliment both her lifestyle and personality. At the end of the segment, Nina Garcia has succeeded in reintroducing the woman with her self-worth and natural beauty, and has given her the strength and clarity to see the amazing, beautiful, brave woman that she is.
A TV series similar to Garcia’s “Decoding Style” videos is TLC’s “What Not to Wear.” The show’s hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, scour the country for the worst fashion victims, and what they find, more often than not, is the individuals (who are nominated by their friends and family) that are chosen, are expressing their poor self-esteem and distorted body-image through their atrocious style. Episodes are typically filled with tears, heartfelt emotions, and ultimately, glorious revelations. What makes “What Not to Wear” a great show is not only the hilarious banter between the two hosts, but also the transformation that the individuals go through, both physically and mentally.
Watching both “Decoding Style” and “What Not to Wear” have made me see how much fashion and personal style can influence a person; clothes are not just superfluous extras, and having great style is not just a vain talent. Teaching people how to dress for their specific body-type, and in a way that expresses their personality, not only boosts their self-esteem and self-worth, but it betters their chances for career success, in addition to empowering them in the social sphere. Everyone should have the opportunity to feel beautiful and valued, and these shows are finally using fashion to its fullest potential.