December 23, 2012

Author Q & A: Clothes-Minded

Siobhan McDonough's passion for fashion comes through in her new book, 'My Mother's Dressing Room.'

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

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Siobhan McDonough's passion for fashion comes through in her new book, 'My Mother's Dressing Room.'

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Q: You've bought clothes off the backs of people. Tell me about the dinosaur shirt.

A: I was living in Manhattan at the time, and I saw this brunette, so I knew the colors would be great on a brunette. It looked so warm. She had it on in January, and she wasn't wearing the shirt with a sweater. And sure enough, the material is kind of warm and stretchy, and then it had these dinosaurs on it. It's so cool, and the colors are fantastic.

There's almost, to me, colors of Carson City, Nev., where I'm thinking of sky blue and I'm thinking of yellows for the sun, and these sort of brownish colors of the Earth. And I was, like, "I have to have that. I'm in Manhattan, and I'm seeing earth right in front of me, and nature."

I just said to this woman, "I love your shirt. Would you consider letting me buy it off you?" And she was, like, sure. So I wrote her a check and managed to just buy it right off her back.

Q: Did she mail it to you?

A: We were at a party, so she had a coat. At the end of the party, when she was leaving, she just gave me the shirt. I gave her a $60 check, and off I went with a big smile on my face.

Q: What's been your biggest splurge?

A: I would say one of them was a Pucci knit dress, but I still got that at discount. I got that at TJ Maxx, actually, on a discount rack. In context, it's all relative to the times of how much I had coming in. That dress was originally a $1,400 dress, and I'm a reporter. I think I ended up paying about $560 or $570 for it, so it was a stretch on a reporter's salary 10 years ago. But I was like, "I have to have it." And I've worn it a ton, so I've justified every dime I spent on it.

It's my autumn dress, I call it, because this dress I would not dare wear a day into December. Dec. 1, this one's got to go back into my storage closet, because the colors speak October-November. I celebrate autumn in this dress, and I know it's autumn when I put this dress on. 

Q: I noticed you're not fond of flip-flops. What are some of your others fashion don'ts for the rest of us?

A: I'm probably going to be massacred for saying that because, let's face it, half the population wears flip-flops. They love those things. I just chalk it up to the fact that I've been a very active person all my life. I didn't grow up with flip-flops. I was running around kicking balls all the time, so flip-flops were not in my vocabulary.

Fashion faux pas, I would say this idea of wearing the black stockings in September, please don't do that to us. The biggest fashion faux pas is to wear something that you don't believe in. So if you love flip-flops from the standpoint that you're just so enamored of those things, then you're being true to yourself, and it won't be a fashion faux pas.

I really hate T-shirts, like when men wear sport coats with T-shirts. I mean, come on, get a collar in there. Either these guys are showing that they've got big necks and they've worked out or whatever, or they're just too lazy to put on a shirt with a collar. I think it's a horrible look.

I'll tell you what else is not a good look, generally -- big clunky sneakers with a dress coat. Jeans are fine under that with a substantial sporty shoe, but not clunky white sneakers. It's too confusing.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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Siobhan McDonough's passion for fashion comes through in her new book, 'My Mother's Dressing Room.'


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