Style & Beauty

'Queer Eye' Star Tan France Reveals How Fashion Has Empowered Him

"I never dreamt in a million years that I’d be on that big American stage, and the fact that I wore something that I will never forget feels so good," the fashion expert said.
Tan France on the gold carpet at the 70th Emmy Wards on Sept. 17, 2018.
Tan France on the gold carpet at the 70th Emmy Wards on Sept. 17, 2018.

Tan France knows a thing or two about the power of fashion.

As the resident fashion expert on Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” it’s his job to show people that the right outfit can work wonders for their confidence and self-esteem. Remember how meaningful it was for Season 2′s Skyler to see himself in a properly fitting suit?

“I think clothing has a massive part to play in how you view yourself, how people view you and how you can achieve what you want to in life,” France told HuffPost last year.

The TV personality is admittedly obsessed with clothes — and the transformative power they possess isn’t lost on him when he makes his own wardrobe choices.

Ahead of the “Queer Eye” Season 3 premiere on March 15, we had a chance to talk with France about one particularly significant outfit he wore: a plaid Thom Browne suit at the 2018 Emmy Awards.

“It is my favorite look I’ve ever worn,” he said.

He shared why he chose the suit, what it meant to wear it on the red (er, gold) carpet, and even dished on the Fab Five’s (unintentional) coordinated style. Here’s what else he had to say

Tan France said of his Thom Browne suit: "I think it’s a look that I’ll look back on in 20 years time and think, 'That was a good choice. It was a bold choice, but it was a good choice.” 
Tan France said of his Thom Browne suit: "I think it’s a look that I’ll look back on in 20 years time and think, 'That was a good choice. It was a bold choice, but it was a good choice.” 

On the suit itself:

“Sometimes I wear something and a few weeks later, I’m like, ‘Eh, do I still love it? Probably not.’ With my job the way it is, I’m always having to come up with a new look, something I haven’t worn before, something that sets me apart from everybody else. [Usually] I’ve thought about [an outfit] so much that by the time I’ve worn it, I’m so over it.

But this one I’m still not over. I still am completely in love with this look. I loved the frayed edges on both the pants and the jacket; it was almost reminiscent of a Chanel bouclé suit, which I loved.

The fit was perfection. I had my trousers altered, so they made me feel confident. I’m 5′9.″ I’m the shortest one of all the boys. So, I wanted to make sure that I felt as tall as I possibly could, and with this tapered leg and shorter jacket, it made me feel taller. Thom Browne does a beautiful job of catering to many body types, including mine. His cut just makes me feel a lot more comfortable and like I’m not a child in men’s clothing.”

On red carpet misconceptions:

“I think it’s a common misconception ― and I was one of these people who assumed this also ― when famous people wear things on the red carpet you think, ‘Oh that’s just theirs.’

It’s so rare that you get to keep that thing. So rare. And I thought it was just because we were the newbies, but I have a lot of friends now who are Oscar winners and Grammy winners, and they’re like, ‘No, you don’t get to keep those clothes.’”

Did he wish he could keep the suit?

“Oh my god, desperately. Desperately. And I would give it prime place in my closet, for sure ... because it is my favorite look I’ve ever worn.”

On why it was such an important look for him:

“Often with clothes, it’s a lot more emotional than just, ‘Oh, I’ve got clothes on my body.’ That feeling that day of getting ready, being in complete awe that this boy from South Yorkshire, England, [who is] Pakistani, and now an immigrant in the U.S., and thinking, I get to go to the Emmys, the show that I’ve seen for many years in the U.K., as a nominee. And when we actually went to the Primetime Emmys and presented, I get to go as a winner of an Emmy.

It felt so powerful to go, and so that outfit will be a constant reminder [of that day]. Even though I don’t have it, every time I see [pictures of it], it will bring back those feelings like nothing else can.

I never dreamt in a million years that I’d be on that big American stage, and the fact that I wore something that I will never forget feels so good. I think it’s a look that I’ll look back on in 20 years time and think, ‘That was a good choice. It was a bold choice, but it was a good choice.’”

The Fab Five on the gold carpet at the 2018 Emmy Awards. From left to right: Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Karamo Brown.
The Fab Five on the gold carpet at the 2018 Emmy Awards. From left to right: Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Karamo Brown.

On unintentionally coordinating with the rest of the Fab Five:

“We all wanted to surprise each other. I knew what designers they were all wearing, but I didn’t actually know what they were wearing. There was no coordination involved. We so rarely plan to coordinate, but the amount of times we turn up on set all wearing the same color story, it’s probably six or seven times out of 10. And it’s never planned. We giggle every time we walk out of the trailers, like, ‘Oh, there we go.’”

On seeing the rest of the Fab Five’s outfits before the ceremony:

Me, Bobby and Antoni got ready together [at Bobby’s apartment]. When I saw their outfits, I was in love. And it made sense for all of them. Bobby’s the slightly more conservative one, so he wore a traditional tux, but with a pop of color. Antoni does love to make a bold fashion choice, so I love that he wore Balmain. Jonathan I’m not surprised at all that he chose to wear ― I’ve got quotations up ― ‘womenswear,’ and Karamo, he was always going to go for a very bold statement. I was surprised by all the boys’ looks, but I was very happy with what they wore.”

On getting compliments on the red carpet:

“It was nice that we got reviewed by many different outlets as the best-dressed men on the carpet, because me and the boys represented very different versions of what it is to be a man on a red carpet. I think that’s why it was important for us to receive those positive comments, to show other men that you don’t have to stick with a black tux and a white shirt to feel great about yourself or to show your personality. You can actually use clothing.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.