Q&A; with Stacy London

Yes, it's real. And no, Stacy London is not getting rid of her signature gray streak of hair. She tried to do it once before, with disastrous results.

London, co-host of the TLC series "What Not to Wear," is inundated with questions about the origins of her premature silver strands almost as much as inquiries from the fashionably challenged seeking couture counseling.

When the former fashion editor of Vogue comes to Annapolis this weekend for the Westfield Style Tour, an event that features private consultations with professional stylists, including London, and discounted shopping, the raven-haired fashionista hopes to field questions that will lead to an end of common wardrobe missteps that many women make.

London, who also works as a fashion reporter for The Today Show, chatted with The Baltimore Sun about a variety of topics, including the rules of style, her favorite fashion icons, and who would win in a celebrity death match between her and "What Not to Wear" co-star Clinton Kelly.

Question: Do you have any plans on getting rid of the gray streak?

Answer: [laughing] It is real. I was 11 or 12 when I first got it. (It appeared after she was sick as a child.) Nobody else in my family has it. I'm going to keep it. In my contract with Pantene they are not allowed to dye it. … I tried to get rid of it once and tried to dye it a platinum blond with a hint of pink once, but it fell out. I was left with a little stump. I didn't mess with my hair after that.

Q: Where are the worst fashion offenders in the country?

A: [laughing] Oh, my God! Regionally, there are problems all over the country. The West Coast is so casual. In the South, they wear shoulder pads. In the North women wear huge, puffy coats. Thankfully, for every problem there is a solution.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the event this weekend.

A: I'm so excited. This is about celebrating and learning about personal style. It's a weekend-long fashion and beauty event with free beauty makeovers. We'll talk about trends that are relevant for all body types. Most of the retailers are participating. We're talking about stores that have a range of price points, so you can make exciting choices.

Q: What fashion faux pas do you see all the time?

A: The biggest ones are about fit. Some women are convinced that they are the same size they were 20 years ago. They also wear clothes that are too big in an effort to hide their body. Both cases are unflattering and work against your body. Some women are in denial about changing. … The key to personal style is self-acceptance. You have to know what [your flaws] are and accept them. The minute you can look in the mirror and accept the raw material you have, and you can figure out the best way to figure out what that is.

Q: What fashion rules are outdated?

A: All of the rules are outdated. There is no such thing as rules. Rules like don't wear white after Labor Day or shoes matching the handbag are antiquated. Modern women should feel free to experiment.

Q: Who are your style icons? Past, present and future?

A: There are so many. Jane Birkin. Angie Dickinson and Tuesday Weld. Present? Kate Moss. Who doesn't love her? It used to be Angelina Jolie during the "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" period. Now all she wears is black, and I'm sort of over it. Rachel Bilson, she has been such a style star. Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel. As far as for the future? It's not Dakota Fanning. I'm not impressed with her choices so far.

Q: Where do you shop?

A: Everywhere. I'm a huge fan of H&M. But I am craving Chanel. … You don't need money to look fabulous. There are so many awesome new designers, so many designers doing collections for mass retailers. The recession has demanded it.

Q: Do you have a guilty-pleasure shopping spot?

A: I'm obsessed with Walmart. I find great accessories there. Target, too. Mossimo makes great tops that fit me perfectly. Kmart. Forever 21, but not for the clothes. I love their accessories; they have the best chandelier earrings ever.

Q: Have you ever found anyone who was simply beyond help?

A: Not yet. Except for those who absolutely refused the offer. There is always a point of connection.

Q: Is "What Not To Wear" coming back?

A: Oct. 29 the new season starts. It's a big season; it premieres with Mindy Cohn from "The Facts of Life."

Q: Who would win a celebrity death match between you and Clinton?

A: Me. I've got stilettos. I'd hit him in the eye.

Q: Do you and Clinton ever give each other personal style advice?

A: Not really. We compliment each other. He is kind of stingy with me. He only compliments me when I wear really outstanding numbers.

Q: What is the worst fashion decade?

A: The '30s were the worst. The '70s are my favorite. The '80s were also bad. Boy, did I screw that up. The shoulder pads and neon. We didn't have a lot of choice. Cyndi Lauper was big; that was not helpful.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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