Zibby Owens: George Brescia is the author of Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life. He is a style expert and has appeared NBC’s Today Show. His other television includes regular red-carpet commentary and fashion and trend reporting for CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX. As’s “Best Dressed” columnist, he covered the Tony Awards and several seasons of Broadway openings and galas. His award-winning web series, Dress Up!, featured George working with Broadway’s top stars preparing them for their opening nights and premieres. He travels the country doing guest lecturing, special events, and regional television shows about current fashion trends and personal styling, and has also been featured on NPR’s Marketplace. George is currently the brand ambassador for LOGO by Lori Goldstein on the QVC Network. His background includes twenty-five years working closely with top fashion leaders Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, and with the fashion directors at Bloomingdales, Bergdorfs, and Lord & Taylor. He’s also a top-tier New York City-based stylist and image consultant with tons of clients. Listen to all of his advice here. As he says, your clothing has the potential to enhance your personal brilliance.

Welcome, George. Thanks so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

George Brescia: Oh, my god, Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.

Zibby: I was really nervous, to be honest. I know this is an audio recording, but you and I are over Skype right now. I was like, I wonder what I should wear to this Skype interview because you are the master. I just put on a coverup, so sorry.

George: You look great. Listen, you know what, it’s not even about that. It’s never about feeling bad. That’s the last thing we want. We want you feeling good. That’s what my book is all about. It’s all about you feeling good and feeling confident and just having the clothes in your closet that do that for you so that you don’t really have to think about it. You look terrific.

Zibby: Well, thank you. Give listeners the broader picture of your book, which by the way has probably the best cover I’ve seen in my entire life. I want to frame your cover and put it on my wall. I’m obsessed with color. It is so awesome.

George: Thank you. I appreciate that. The book has a very colorful cover. That is no mistake because I’m all about color and what colors people wear and to have them in colors that make them look really good. Listen, this is the deal, you have to get dressed every day. No matter what your life is, no matter what’s going on in the world, we cover our body with clothes no matter what. My goal is to have you put clothes on your body that, A, make you feel amazing; B, give you the response that you want from people in terms of the way that you want to be seen. It’s not so much about a compliment. It’s more about, how do you want the world to see you? They do see you whether you like it or not no matter what, whether it’s on a Skype call, a Zoom call, in person. No matter what’s happening in the world and what your life is, you are seen at some point. You want to make sure that you’re being thought of in the way that you want to. Clothes do that. I really got that from dressing celebrities. I’m a stylist.

I have a whole background. I was at Ralph Lauren for ten-plus years. I was a vice president in Tommy Hilfiger. I’ve worked at Donna Karan. I’ve worked with Jay Z at Rocawear, and Beyoncé. I’ve dressed all kinds of Broadway actresses to all kinds of Oscar-winning actresses in Los Angeles, movie actresses. What I realized was dressing them for auditions — they would say to me, “I’m going in for this role. What do you think I should wear that speaks to the role?” We realized that when the door opened and they walked in, immediately they were sort of cast or not cast in a role based on what they brought in the door with their presentation of themselves. I was like, you know, this happens in real life. I do it. You do it. Everyone does it. People don’t talk about it, but they do it. You walk by someone on the street. You see someone maybe on one of your Zoom calls and you’re like, huh, she’s this, he’s that, based on what you see them wearing. It’s an instinctive human response. I just want you to win at that response and become more present to it. When you become more present to it, what ends up happening is you connect to yourself. It’s a connection to yourself because you have to take the time to think about yourself, think about what you want to present to the world, think about the fact that you’re putting something on that’s going to make you feel good.

It’s self-care, is what it really is. I think we’re in a time right now in this country and the world where it really is about self-care. If we don’t take care of ourselves, then we’re not better for others in any way. When we take care of ourselves, we’re a better mother. We’re a better sister. We’re a better wife. We’re a better friend. We’re a better husband. We’re a better boyfriend. It’s just self-care. It really is. This book really talks about how to do that and how to — all the clothes that you have in your closet, I call it the window to your soul because it is. What are you holding onto? What won’t you let go of? Why won’t you bring new in? You want new in your life. Maybe you want the new love of your life. Maybe you want the new job. Maybe you want the new home. If you don’t get rid of things that aren’t serving you, how do you become an open vessel for all good? It’s funny. I’m watching the expression on your face as I speak. I think people are surprised when I speak this way about this book because this isn’t about, if you wear this skirt, it makes you have a smaller waist, or if you wear this color, you will look younger. It’s not that kind of a book. There is that information in there, but it all comes from a very spiritual place because that’s really what it is. It’s how you connect to yourself and how to present yourself in the world. Your clothing is a tool that you have that can help you to do that.

Zibby: I didn’t mean to suggest anything by my expression other than I was just listening intently. I read your book, so I know what’s in there. I think it’s great. It’s almost like a clothing empowerment movement in a way, right? It’s more like that.

George: Yes, exactly. I loved your expression. I love it because it makes me know that what is in the book can be powerful. That’s what I’m seeing in your face. That’s what I love. People will say to me, “George, what’s one of your favorite things about what you do? What do you love?” I always answer with, I love the moment when I put something on someone and she looks in the mirror and she’s like, oh, yeah, there I am. There’s that person I want to be or I hope I am, or that’s what I want to say. That moment of self-discovery, that is my favorite part of what I do. It always happens. When people hire me to dress them for, whether it’s an opening of a Broadway show or a movie premiere — sometimes I have women who just want to hire me because they want their closets filled with clothes that really can reflect who they are and who they want to be, but they don’t know how to do it. We do that kind of work together. That’s my favorite moment because that’s when they discover, I can do this. I can be this. I can have this.

I think that especially for women, it’s so hard. I really feel for women. I do. All they do is take care of, take care of their kids, take care of their husband. They’re just constantly give, give, give, giving. Then do they have any time for themselves? Do they have any moment where it can be just about them? When I usually come to someone, that is one of their moments that they get to have. I get to experience that with them. I love it. Then they’ll call me in a month or two weeks and they’ll say, “Oh, my god, I just feel so much better. Every time I walk out the door I don’t have to think, do I look okay? Am I okay? Am I enough?” It’s funny. With my book, when it first came out it was Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life: Because You Can’t Go Naked. That was the subtitle because you really can’t. That’s why I did it. I wanted to be funny and fun. You are required to wear clothing by law. People always say, what about a nude beach? I’m like, okay, I’ll give you that, but do you live your life on a nude beach? No, you don’t. What we did was — it’s been some years since the book has come out. As you know, we’re relaunching in paperback on August 25th. We rewrote the forward. It’s all the things that I’ve learned since the book has come out.

I have been on the road traveling all over the country doing style events in all kinds of places: Fargo; Minnesota; Ponte Vedra, Florida; Minneapolis; Wisconsin; the heartland of the country; Springfield, Missouri. I’ve been everywhere. I have been dressing these women, doing style events and book signings and also doing some local television. I’ve learned so much from all of these women. It’s been such an education for me, one that I have loved and treasured. It’s been a wealth of knowledge of what women go through and also how it’s a little different in different parts of the country, different kinds of challenges. Yes, we are America, but we do have different regions that have different little cultural things. The Midwest is different from the East Coast, from the West Coast, from the South, from New England. It’s fascinating. I’ve tried to impart some of these things that I’ve learned in the forward. Then we have changed the subtitle. The reason that we changed the subtitle, I wanted to say Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life: Because You’re Worth It because you are worth it. You’re worth that moment every day of self-care and a little bit of self-reflection to say, what do I want to say today to the world? How do I want to feel? To take that moment to connect to yourself is very powerful.

Zibby: It’s almost like you’re doing your own branding exercise. I don’t think that everybody necessarily pauses the way you’re suggesting to think deeply about what they’re wearing, their style versus who they are. It’s a whole nother level. There’s one thing, what looks good on my body? I feel like most women have kind of figured out through trial and error the kinds of things they can pull off and the kinds of things they can’t. I’m not going to wear a skintight — . I know A-line is my thing. I’m just going to stick to that. However, to think more deeply about it the way you suggest, what does it say about me? Who do I want to be? What do I want to show when I go out the door like when I do this? It’s a really interesting concept that I feel like people are not really talking about. That’s why I think it’s so interesting.

George: Thank you so much. They’re not talking about it. That’s what is so bizarre to me. When the stakes are high, we know how to do it. When you have to go to the PTA meeting and you know you’re going to see all those other moms, you’ll take time to give yourself a blowout, put on a little mascara, put on a little lip, make sure you’re wearing the A-line dress that you feel really good in because you know you’re going to see those other women. But why don’t you do that all the time? Here’s the thing. People will say to me, because I’m running around. Yeah, but here’s the deal. This is what really defines it. How about when you don’t do it, you throw on anything, you don’t even know what you have on, you go to the grocery store because you’re going to get groceries for dinner that night, and you bump into your husband’s boss for some weird reason? He happens to be there, or his wife. You’re like, oh, god, don’t look at me, don’t look at me. I just ran to the store because I needed to get some fennel for this delicious thing I’m making for the dinner tonight. Don’t look at me. What do you mean don’t look at me? We see you. You’re not invisible. How the hell do you want us not to look at you? Of course we’re looking at you. You don’t have to have those experiences. How many times have you bumped into someone where you’ve been so mortified because you just feel so disheveled, you hate what you have on, and you feel horrible?

My thing is if you have clothes in your closet that always are the great colors for you — in other words, if you have to buy a T-shirt because you like T-shirts in the summer, nice cotton lightweight T-shirts, and you’re going to Target to get the three-dollar T-shirt, just get it in the color you look good in. What’s the difference? You’re buying one anyway. Then when you are at the grocery store and you have on a little T-shirt and you’ve got those pretty blue eyes and you’re wearing it with a pair of just khaki shorts and just a flip-flop, but at least it’s the blue T-shirt that highlights your eyes and your hair’s in a ponytail. You still look great. You’re not all dolled up. You’re running around casual, and you look great. That’s the other thing. I think that women have a very — they all know how to get dressed up. They all know what to wear to clean the house or to do some yardwork or do some gardening or whatever, but they don’t know how to run around and be causal, running around, errands, dropping the kids off the school, going to the grocery store, meeting a girlfriend for lunch, going to maybe some club that you’re in, a meeting, or whatever it is. They don’t know how to do that. Even the girls that work, which is so many, what if you’re in a casual job? What do I wear to work? How do I look professional but still feel casual, but still feel relevant, but still feel modern?

It’s overwhelming. When you know what colors you look good in, when you know what silhouettes look good on your body, what’s flattering, what’s camouflaging your challenges, accentuating your assets, and you know all of these things, it all becomes a very different experience because you have a much stronger point of view. You also know what you want to say. My look is, fill in the blank. My look is classic but casual. My look is modern and cool. My look is edgy and sophisticated, whatever it is. If you start to pay attention to it, it becomes a different thing. The other thing I love to tell is that I’ll clean out someone’s closet, we’ll go through things, and she’ll say to me, “I just wear that to walk the dog.” I’m like, “Are you single?” “Yeah.” “Did you want to say single? Did you want a Friday night date?” Girl, who’s coming up to you in that? Put on the cute jeans that fit you great. If you’re wearing a little sweatshirt, maybe it’s the sweatshirt that makes your eyes look great or lights up your skin. When you start talking to someone on the street and you meet this guy or whatever, you’re feeling good. You’re presenting a different part of yourself. You’re not apologizing for yourself. I have found that in spades across the country.

Women apologize for themselves so much subconsciously because they just threw on clothes. They feel horrible inside. They don’t feel like they look good. They don’t feel confident. Not just running around in their lives, but how about when they go to the cocktail party in the neighborhood and they see the girl walk in and they’re like, why does she always look cute? She always looks cute. She always has the cute dress on. She always has a cute top on. I’m sitting over here like a big shlunk. I hate the way I look. That is horrible. That’s not good to yourself. That’s not being good to who you are. That’s what I love about empowering women. People use that word so much. I hate to even use it myself because it’s gotten so overused. When you hear it in this context, that’s what it really means. Give yourself that moment of confidence and self-care and self-love. That’s what empowerment is, so that you don’t feel less than in a situation. The school pickup line, oh, my god, that is just the worst. They’re feeling horrible. They’ve got the baseball hat on to cover their hair. They don’t even know what they’re wearing. I like to set people up for success. That’s so much of what this book does.

Zibby: That’s awesome. It’s so true. I think you’re talking about two different things, how you seem to other people and the shame when you’re not as put together as you could be, but also how you feel when you present a certain way. Actually, I feel like I’ve been thinking about clothing more than usual because of the quarantine. When I left home, I brought two weeks of clothes. I was like, that’s all. I’m going to be gone for two weeks. Let me just grab a few things. I don’t usually sit around in my sweatpants or my pajamas all day, but like most people during quarantine, there has been a lot more of that than usual when I’m busy running around like everybody else. It’s amazing to me how much even what you wear affects your mood. If you don’t get dressed or you don’t brush your hair, you don’t get out of the jammies or whatever, I think over time it really wears away at your energy level, even.

George: That’s so true. Yes, thank you for bringing it up. With the quarantine and the fact that this is happening, that’s absolutely true. What happens there is the reason that you feel bad, and I’ve talked to so many women, is that you start to disconnect from yourself. The way that you know this is that when you do have that Zoom call, whether it’s for work or it’s a virtual birthday, which I’ve been to so many — I’ve seen more people in the last three months on camera communicating than I have seen in the last three years. What happens, you hear women say, “I had a Zoom call. I did my hair. I did my makeup. I put on the cute top. I feel so much better.” Why? Why is that? Ask yourself. You know why that is? Because you took the time to connect to yourself. It’s not because you look prettier. There’s no pretension in what I’m saying. That’s where people get sometimes, when they first hear me talk, “I don’t care what other people think.” No, darling, it’s not for the other people. It’s for you. It’s for you. There’s no pretension. As a matter of fact, it’s the dead opposite. It’s the dead opposite of the fact that is for other people. It’s for yourself. What do you want in your life? How do you want to be seen? How good do you want to feel? That’s what this is about. This isn’t about anyone else. Once they understand that, they’re like, oh, yes, that makes so much sense.

With this quarantine, listen, wear the sweats, but wear the ones that make you feel good. If the ones that you have don’t make you feel good, go online and find an inexpensive pair. There’s tons of them. Now that we’re into summer, it’s all about the tank tops and the T-shirts and the shorts. There’s so many places to go to shop for clothing that’s inexpensive. Clothing does not have to be expensive at all. I am not a proponent of that. That’s the other thing where I love talking because there’s nothing pretentious about this. This is not about glamour. This is not a Pretty Woman situation, the movie. This is about you and self-care. You can get clothing at any price point. You can get it very inexpensively that makes you feel good and look good. It’s up to you. When people work with me, I always say you’re your own banker. I don’t know what your situation is. You decide. I can take you anywhere and shop. As a matter of fact, when I referenced being all over the country doing these style events, I did them in these boutiques that were very inexpensive. Most of the items in the boutique were under a hundred dollars. A lot of them were under fifty. It wasn’t like I was at these glamourous, very expensive boutiques all over the country dealing with women. No, no, no. I was dealing with women at every price point, and I do. Here’s the other thing. I’m on QVC. I work for a brand called LOGO by Lori Goldstein. Her clothes are so inexpensive, but they’re fantastic and wonderful fabrics and amazing comfort. She knows a woman’s body. It’s fabulous. I love working with these clothes because it’s another tool that I can give people for their closet. I call it a closet full of tens. If it’s not a ten, get rid of it.

Zibby: I loved that. That was actually one of the best lines in the book, I thought. I was like, yeah, why do I keep all these clothes around that they’re like, eh? I don’t know. Then I feel bad because I bought them.

George: Right. That’s a whole thing. That’s where I want to help. When you go shopping, when you kind of know what you look good in — by the way, all of this comes from — people are probably like, where does he get his information from? How does he know what looks good? It all comes from film and television, meaning that when you see someone in a movie or on any television show — by the way, even the political debates, do you know the hours of conversation that go into the color of the tie, the color of the jacket, the dress color, what these people are wearing and what it says and what it’s going to invoke? It’s huge. This is what I realized. If you look at your favorite sitcom, really start to look at what people with your coloring are wearing. How are they going to pop the eyes on camera? How are they going to illuminate the skin? How are they going to bring out the hair color for everyone? That’s where I get all, we call them tricks of the trade or hacks, if you will. It comes from a structured place. I just think that it’s so important for you to take the time to give yourself self-care. You are worth it. You really are worth it.

Zibby: Love it. Do you have any advice to aspiring authors now that you’ve survived the process of writing this book?

George: I think that you have to be passionate about what you say. I’m sure that that’s the obvious. I don’t think that you can be overwhelmed. I think if you concentrate on the fact of the how — how am I going to get this book published? How am I going to write a book? How is it going to happen? — you’re focusing on the wrong thing. You have to focus on what you want to say, and say it. I know this might sound a little woo-woo, if you will, but the universe does take over. You don’t have to worry about the how. You just have to be really clear about what you want to say and how you want to say it, and do that. Then you’ll start to align yourself with the right people. You’ll get to it. You’ll get to a publisher. You’ll get to an agent. You’ll get to all of those things that you’re supposed to go there. This is a time where we want to hear from you. One of my favorite books is, Brené Brown, Daring Greatly. I’m obsessed with her. The reason that I’m obsessed with her, she talks about how to be vulnerable and how that affects you in your life and how great it is. She talks to us in a way where it’s like a best friend that sat down and had coffee with us. She’s like, okay, here’s the deal. I love that. I love people. I love making people feel good in any way that I can, whether it’s dressing them and help them to discover who they are or what they want to be and how they want to be seen, or being on television and inspiring them, doing a wonderful podcast like this and being able to just let people know that they do matter. By the way, here’s the other thing, you have to look in the mirror every day and just look at yourself and say, I’m enough. I am enough, because you are.

Zibby: I love it. You’re like a wardrobe therapist. It’s great.

George: It’s funny. You said no one’s really talking about this. I don’t think people are. I really don’t. One of my goals is — I love Oprah Winfrey. I loved Super Soul Sunday. I love what she talks about. She’s talked about every aspect of life and this kind of work. She talks about it with food. She talks about it with money. She talks about it with love. But she has never talked about this part of it with the clothing. I just want to get to her and say, I want to talk to you about this. I know from watching her with all of the interviews that she does and all of the work that she does, she subscribes to this. I know she does because I see it. I think it’s easier for people when you do subscribe to it. It’s something I’m so excited to have out there and to really help women and let them know you are enough, this is self-care, and then give them all the fun tricks of the trade. I will tell you one other story because I know we probably have to stop. You know me, I’ll go on forever.

Zibby: After this. I’m putting the hook or whatever that expression is, giving you the hook.

George: This is really funny. I got this woman. She came to me through a friend of a friend of a friend. She called me. I never met her. I went up to her house. We started doing her closet. She was in relationship. They were not engaged. She had been married. He had been married. She was in a job where she was having her own business, but it wasn’t going the way she wanted and all of these things. We were going through her closet. We started pulling out things. It was Eddie Bauer, Eddie Bauer skirts, Eddie Bauer dresses, Eddie Bauer jackets. I was like, what is all this stuff? We were laughing. She said, “I know. It’s Eddie Bauer.” I said, “I didn’t even know they made all this stuff. Why do you have all this in your closet?” She goes, “Because when I get off the subway at night from work, there’s an Eddie Bauer store.” I said, “Walk the other way. Don’t go to that store.” In our working together, she got married. I did her wedding dress. Her business totally became amazing, all of these changes because she just became such a different person once she had clothes that made her feel incredible and let her say what she wanted to say to the world. She was an entrepreneur. It was wonderful to watch.

Zibby: That’s awesome. It’s so great what you do. Your way of making people feel good about themselves, it’s just super honorable, really. It’s a service that you do. It’s really amazing, what you do for making people feel good about themselves. That’s one of the keys to happiness, really, that inner sense of confidence. Anyway, so it’s really great what you do. I’m glad you shoved it all into the book so that we can all have a little piece of it to take along with us.

George: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Zibby: It was my pleasure. Thanks, George. Bye.

George: Bye-bye.