Tan from Queer Eye gave me style advice and it was the best day of my life

Images via Tan France
Words by Tara Smith

Career highlight.

They say you should never meet your heroes, but I wonder if attempting to slide into their Insta DMs counts.

Yesterday I had the privilege of interviewing Queer Eye’s Tan France. Anyone who has been within a two-metre radius of me in the past week will have heard my incessant rambling about this interview, and if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky.

Naturally, I also took the opportunity to slide into Tan’s DMs, but we’ll get to that later.

Before a quick game of ‘Would you Rather’, we chatted behind-the-scenes of Queer Eye, Von Dutch tees and the strange things you find looking through people’s homes.

Hi Tan! You’ve just completed your Australian makeover in Yass. If you could makeover one person in the world, who would it be?

[Family Guy’s] Peter Griffin. Let me tell you why. He’s really misogynistic, he says inappropriate stuff, he needs to be a better husband and he needs to be a better father. Because what we do is not just physical makeovers, we also do emotional makeovers, or ‘make betters’.

How long do these transformations take?

In the original show, it would take 24 hours, whereas in our show, we ‘make better’ over a week. Some weeks it takes four days, some weeks five. We really get to know these people, and so it makes for a super impactful ‘make better’. We’re not just making them prettier, we’re really making sure we’re doing everything we can to make the best version of them.

What’s been the most emotional moment for you in the show?

For me, it’s in season two. It’s the most important episode for me personally. In episode five of season two, the person’s name is Skyler and it’s our first trans male. I don’t want to give too much away, but viewing it from the average audience member’s perspective I really feel like it’s a strong episode. It’s very informative, I think the world will learn a lot from this episode.

You go through people’s wardrobes and homes in every episode. What’s the strangest thing you’ve found in somebody’s house?

In AJ’s episode, (episode four of season one). The harness. It’s not something I’d expect to find in somebody’s wardrobe, I don’t have that in my wardrobe!

Especially AJ! He seemed quite timid and shy, it revealed another side to him.

OMG yeah. That’s why I was so happy when I saw that harness. I thought, ‘you’re quiet on the outside, but you’ve got some freaky-deaky in you and I like that’.

Speaking of wardrobes, if I wanted a brand new one with a limited budget, what key pieces should I buy?

I would suggest a capsule wardrobe – a few simple items that are classic, that will be with you for the next 10-15 years. You’ll have to inject some other pieces, but on the whole, this will get you through:

  • A great pair of jeans – preferably a darker pair of jeans to go with everything in your closet.
  • A suit – whether it’s a pantsuit or a skirt suit. Something you can alternate, whether it be a skirt with a top, or a jacket with a jean.
  • A leather jacket – try a moto jacket, because they’ve been around for ages and they’ll make you look cool without even trying.
  • A heel – either nude or black, just a shoe that will go with anything.
  • A little black dress.

With those few items, you can mix and match and you’ll have a fresh wardrobe for the next 10 years.

What’s the best style advice you’ve ever received?

It was in college, and it was ‘Wear whatever you feel comfortable in’.

Back in the day, there were certain times where I would feel like ‘I shouldn’t wear that’, but now I don’t give an F.

If I’m not finding what I’m looking for in the men’s department, I’ll mosey on over to the women’s department and I’ll find a jacket or I’ll find a sweater that works for me, and feels way more me than the items I’m finding in menswear.

Wear what makes you feel most comfortable.

What has been your worst fashion moment?

Let me tell you this. Anybody who’s a stylist or in my world – if you haven’t had things that you look back on and regret, you weren’t doing a good job.

You get sucked into trends every now and then, especially when you’re younger. You should be experimental, that’s how you find out if things do or don’t work.

On my 21st birthday I insisted on wearing a Von Dutch T-shirt with a Von Dutch cap. Would I wear that again? No. Was it a thing at the time? Yes.

I want you to answer these next questions as quick as you can, the first thing that pops into your head.

Would you rather…
Have Antoni’s bleached blonde hair, or Jonathan’s long locks… 
long locks.

Eat avocado salad for the rest of your life or drink redneck margaritas… ew, I’ll go avocado salad for the rest of my life.

Crocs or Nike fanny pack shoes… I’ll take anything but Crocs, so the fanny pack shoes.

Go without washing your hair for one year, or your clothes… (gasps) hair.

How long does Jonathan spend on his hair… it depends what look he’s going for. For a full-on blow-out, it probably takes half an hour.

If I slide into your DMs, will we be friends… sure will! But you haven’t asked me one question. You haven’t asked how long my hair takes, so I’m going to tell you. It takes 7-8 minutes depending on the day.

7-8 minutes exactly? I’ve got it down to a science.


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