Tim Gunn may be best known as the exacting mentor to the stressed-out designers of “Project Runway,” but he is also a self-described “fashion therapist,” offering counseling and kindness to style-challenged women on his television show, “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.”
Mr. Gunn says it’s the pleasure of helping people “find their fashion” that sparked his interest in his latest role, spokesman for a new awareness campaign directed at the 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic disease of the immune system that appears on the skin, usually as thick, red, scaly patches. This week I spoke to him about his new role and how fashion can help people with the isolating and embarrassing skin condition.
I know most people with psoriasis are understandably inclined to cover it up. I would never say to someone, “Just show it off. Don’t worry about it.” If one’s personality is like that, that’s great. But all you need is one bad experience and right away wouldn’t the sleeves come back on? It’s complex. It’s inextricable from someone’s emotional health. But there is no reason why you can’t be the chicest person in the entire city covered up.
But in the case of psoriasis, with the right treatment, one can have the lifestyle one aspires to. My message really has been, “Go to a dermatologist, then go to Saks Fifth Avenue!” But it’s not going to happen overnight. While you’re waiting for your treatment to kick in, what are you going to do during that intermediate period? One of the issues with people with psoriasis is the scaling and flaking of skin. People say, “I can’t wear dark colors.” If your skin is flaking, there are treatments that can stop that. Until then, a person might consider wearing lighter colors.
And it’s not just about the clothing itself, but what’s between your psoriasis and the clothing. Undergarments can be a wonderful partner in helping with all this. Ointments and lotions and topical treatments can be sticky or oily. If you have a proper undergarment, you can wear a silk shirt or whatever you want.