NEW YORK — Tina Knowles taps just about everyone around her to be a fit model for her new line of clothes that just moved into Walmart, from her best 50-something-year-old friend in Houston to the young hip woman answering phones in her Manhattan office. And, yes, her daughter Beyonce already has samples from the upcoming spring collection.
But nothing goes into the collection, called Miss Tina, that she doesn't think complements her own figure.
"I'm the best model for this," Knowles says. "I'm busty, I'm full under the arms and around the back. I couldn't wear jackets or a white button-down shirt before, and I don't want bare arms. All I was looking for was a jacket that actually closed."
Knowles started this label — separate from the more upscale House of Dereon and junior line Dereon that she works on with Beyonce — about three years ago, originally partnering with HSN. It was a great experience that afforded her the chance to get feedback from customers, Knowles says.
She did take the advice, even about her own appearance. "Since I was 16, I wore red lipstick. My girls have told me for years not to wear red lipstick, but I didn't listen. But then when a caller said it, I listened," she says with a smile. "You know how it is with family."
When the time came to choose a bigger retail outlet, Walmart was the one willing to do the extended size range that Knowles wanted: up to a size 18.
Whether you're a size 4 or 20, women want the same thing, according to Knowles. "These clothes are all made with the thought process to make you look slimmer and taller," she says. "Every dress has some draping and ruching, everything has stretch, even the leather jackets. Sand-blasting on jeans? That's not great for most figures and you won't find it here."
But you will find Knowles — and feel free to call her Miss Tina, everyone does — visiting several Walmart locations this month to guide shoppers into the outfits she thinks would be best on them. (Knowles will be in Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Torrance and West Sacramento, Calif.) "When I owned a hair salon back in Houston, I did a lot of makeovers. Women would come in for a new hairstyle and go out with a whole new look. I know what looks good on a woman."
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The one silhouette she'd like to see women break out of their comfort zone and try are the attached miniskirt-legging combination. It doesn't have the hanger appeal of, say, a snake-print dress, but she thinks it's universally flattering.
The most valuable style advice, however, comes from within, she says. "The best thing you can do is take your time to study your own style, then the individual pieces will come naturally."
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