I have to admit it. I am an
avid voracious Project Runway fan! I love the show. It makes me want to design, to sew (learn to sew…). I love the work these ultra-talented people create. There is also usually one villain that makes you want to throw something and scream loudly at him/her as though you can actually be heard through the TV.
Anyway, I have learned some things by watching all 14 seasons of Project Runway and all 5 seasons of the Project Runway All Stars series. As well as Under the Gunn and Project Accessory. Hmmm, I may need an intervention. While watching, I have come up with a few life lessons.
Things I have learned from Project Runway
- Determine your own style/personality/identity.
On Project Runway some of the contestants have no idea who they are as a designer. They just sort of make clothes. They don’t have a clear direction of what they want to make or the type of person they want to design for. These designers generally are eliminated within the first 4 or 5 episodes of a season.
In the real world, there are people walking around this way. Confused about who they are and with no clear direction in life. And if you are a teenager, or in your early twenties, that is perfectly OK. If you are still there in your thirties, you need to pull up your britches and find your way.
This may mean changing jobs or careers. It may mean moving somewhere new. Just find whatever it is that gives you a clear direction and hit the trail! Just remember, it is much easier to find a job when you have a job. (Having a paycheck is important, people.) 🙂
In the real world, it can also translate into who we are as people, the friends we have, and the people we connect with on a daily basis. The phrase “You are known by the company you keep” comes to mind. If the company you keep brings you down, get new company. Period. Life is too short to be weighed down by people who don’t help you up. Just sayin’.
- Don’t let others change your style.
On Project Runway there is always a makeover show. In that episode, at least one of the people receiving the makeover does not like what the designer is doing and will inevitably convince the designer to do something that goes against his or her design style or any style at all. That is usually the person sent home for that episode.
Once you have found your style/place/career/niche in the world, stay strong. Other people may try to dissuade you or convince you that their choices for your life are better. If your choices in the past have been really bad ones, listen to them. If you like the way your life is working, allow them to speak their mind, but then do what you know in your heart to be right. Just remember that sometimes it is OK to “let go of yourself a little to make someone else happy.” (Kelly Dempsey Season 14, Episode 10)
- Time management is key.
A designer’s biggest hindrance on Project Runway is the amount of time they are given to create these amazing looks. They go from sketching/designing their outfit, to Mood (the most AMAZING fabric store “Bye, Swatch!”) to sewing to runway most of the time in less than 18 hours. If they let time get away from them…well, you get the idea.
I am, at heart, a procrastinator. Since I know this, however, I work really hard to get things done long before the deadline. The only problem with that is that I, at times, continue to tweak the finished product until it is a little over the top.
Scheduling is very difficult for me, but I do find that if I write down what all I have to do in a day, it feels really good to check those items off when they are done. I also try to put the biggest tasks first because I don’t want to be tired when I am tackling a moose or eating a frog.
- Listen to your mentors.
Ahhhhh. Tim Gunn. I love Tim Gunn. He is a truly gifted teacher. “Make it work.” Often by the time Tim Gunn comes into the workroom for a consultation, the viewers already know what is working and what is not.
Tim has the most amazing way of asking questions of the designers to get them to see their own direction. “Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.” Tim Gunn
I truly appreciate the people in my life who have advice to give. But the people in my life who help me work things out and progress are the people I tend to want to listen to the most. For this, my advice is to look for that quality in people around you. I try to be that to others. I don’t want to tell people what to do, I want to help them see what they want to do and how to achieve it. Teachers, not lecturers. And don’t mistake critiques for criticism.
- Do your best. Less may be more.
If the seams in a garment are not sewn well, the judges are going to find them and rip the designers to shreds over them (pun intended). Also, over accessorizing a design is often a critique used by the judges. They want the clothes to speak for themselves and the accessories to accentuate them.
In real life this translates to if you find you have so much going on that you cannot do it all really well, you may have to let some of it go. In real life, over accessorizing can be compared to over complicating.
Life is stressful and then we have the tendency to continually add more and more. Yes, I’ll serve on that committee. Yes, I’ll make 2 million cupcakes for the party. Yes, I’ll be more than happy to….. Learn to say “No.”
I know. I know. You can’t let anyone down. Everyone will think you are a horrible person. News flash: They won’t. And even if they do, what does it matter? Have you heard the saying “Those who mind don’t matter but those who matter don’t mind.” It’s true. Except where your family is concerned. They matter. And when life gets in the way of family, they mind.
So the next time you feel “obligated” to serve on another whatever it is, look at your life. Can you handle more and still have down time with your family? If not, say so.
- “Make it work.”
If you have watched even one episode, you have heard Tim Gunn say this. In his book, Gunn’s golden rules: Life’s little lessons for making it work (2011), he explains that the saying basically means to take what you have, and make something meaningful with it.
How absolutely beautiful is that? How absolutely empowering is that? I have always loved hearing him use that phrase, but after reading his meaning behind it I am taking it now as my mantra. “Make it work.” No matter what.
So, there you have it. My life lessons learned from Project Runway. I hope you enjoy them and I hope they help you in some way. And, if you haven’t seen the show and want to see what it’s all about, this is the link to Season 15 online.
PS. I just had to throw in this Tim Gunn quote, as it speaks to me in other ways…“Call me a schoolmarm, but few things make me angrier than people not taking good care of library materials.” ― Tim Gunn,