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VIVE LA FRANCE

Tan France grew up in a traditional Asian family in South Yorkshire but somehow wound up as one of the stars of Queer Eye. With his autobiography just out, he shares with beyond a few nuggets of fashion advice.

E very celebrity needs a distinguishing feature, a little something which is absolutely, identifiably his own. For Cara Delevingne it is those eyebrows, Tom Cruise has that unbeatable all-American style and would Freddie Mercury have been such a star without those teeth? We think not.

Growing up in Doncaster in a strict Muslim household, France secretly enrolled on a fashion course at a local college and by the time he told his family it was too late for them to steer him on a more conventional path. After marrying his husband and moving to Salt Lake City, the whirlwind which is France’s life continued. He launched a couple of fashion brands and devised a women’s clothing range with uberblogger Rachel Parcell.

The pressure of juggling three businesses took its toll and France has admitted to bouts of depression, but just as he was about to scale back, he got a call from the production team behind a reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

After a pretty gruelling audition process, France joined the Fab Five who each week makeover a (usually straight) man, stripping him of his sweatpants and faded t-shirt and introducing him to tailored jackets and the concept of grooming.

With filming about to start on season four, the show has been a huge critical and commercial success for Netflix and has made a star of France, that hair and his particular direct brand of fashion advice…

On t-shirts…

When in doubt always go for a crew neck. This is especially true for men. The one exception is if you are heavier set. If you are one of those men where your head and neck sort of blend together, then you should go for a v-neck. If you are not one of those men, do not wear a V-neck. Douche-bags (especially in Las Vegas and New Jersey) seem to gravitate towards a V. No woman wants that V-neck guy.

On Crocs…

I understand that you think you’re comfortable, but if you wear them, I will point and laugh and I will continue to point and laugh until you take them off. If you’re single and wearing Crocs and you’re worried about being single, all you have to do is look down at your feet and wonder, Am I the reason I’m single? and know the answer is yes.

On long hair…

Women can have long hair, but when your hair is hitting your butt, it ceases to be sexy. You look like you just escaped from a cult. Or maybe you didn’t even escape the cult; you were sent away from it because even they didn’t want to look at that long hair anymore. So just cut it. Mid-back-length is great; any closer to your butt and you’ve gone too far kid.

On men and hairdryers…

Nobody is going to accuse you of being homosexual just because you own a blow-dryer. And if they do after seeing your beautifully turned-out coif, smile and thank them, because someone assuming you are gay is usually their way of saying you’re so darn stylish that you must have heightened powers. Own it, bitch; stop being so offended.

On sandals…

They’re at least more acceptable than flip-flops. But do understand that they are only acceptable when worn casually and paired with an appropriate outfit. However, sandals do not say, “I’ve made an effort”. They say, “I’m chillin’ and maybe down for a second round of drinks.”

On his fashion pet hate…

Aztec-print leggings. I need them to die. The kind of person who wears them went to a yoga class eight years ago and now they wear them every Sunday for brunch thinking they’ll go back to the yoga class, but they never do. They’ve maybe visited India once. I’ve found my people! they think. You haven’t found your people; you’ve found my people.

On matching shoes and bags…

I recently watched a dating show where some guy had picked an outfit for a young woman. She was all excited that he had style because he picked a bag and shoes that matched. I sat there screaming at the TV, “Run! Run! He thinks you’re going to be his little lady!” Just get a handbag you like and don’t worry about it matching with your shoes.

On belts…

I don’t wear one unless it’s a statement belt. I’d rather someone wear a pair of pants that fit properly than wear a belt. To me, belts are for fashion, never function. Just wear the right size pants, for goodness sakes.

On brunch…

“Do you want to go to brunch?” an American will ask. So you say, “What time?” and they reply, 2.00pm. That is lunch. Breakfast and lunch have been mashed together as a word because it happened between breakfast and lunch. But 3pm is no longer time for breakfast. Put your pancakes away.

Naturally Tan is published by Virgin Books priced £16.99.

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