I've never worn anything crazy, by my own estimate, but I will tell you the craziest thing people think I’ve worn: I love I Love Lucy, and you know how she’s always around the house and has on these pants with a jacket that goes to the floor, and sometimes you can see through it? I wore one in lime green to the Oscars in 1993.
People said really bad things about it. They were so mean and horrible. I thought, “I’m paying homage to Lucille Ball, man!” They didn’t understand that I was having a good time and was celebrating. And once I realized they had the power to hurt my feelings, I said, “This will never happen again.” That was back in the old days, and I don’t let people make me feel bad about what I’m dressed in anymore.
Joan Rivers and [fashion editor] André Leon Talley both once told me, “You don’t have to listen to anybody. Your style is your style. You can be whoever you want to be.” And I figured if these folks are saying, “Do you, be you,” then that’s what I’m gonna do. So my suggestion to other people is, “Try stuff!” Maybe it doesn’t work, but maybe it does. Like, I never would have put on leggings because I used to think, “Oh no, not with this ass,” but they work well for me.
That’s why I like the store Opening Ceremony [in N.Y.C.]. I almost have a heart attack going up the stairs, but I enjoy exploring all the designers on the different floors. I’m also a fan of Ralph Rucci and Tracy Reese. She designs for women with butts, droopy tits, and maybe underarm hair—I don’t know. But I do know that when women look at her things,
they feel like, “Ooh, this is me. I can do this.”
To put clothing on beautiful, tall, and thin people is great, but they’re not necessarily the ones who are going to buy what you’re making. I appreciate anything that makes me feel like I’m part of the conversation, that makes me feel included.
I do go to Fashion Week. And my younger granddaughter loves it. We just went to Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma show this past season, with the dirt-bike guys. Both of my granddaughters—they’re 21 and 27—have their own brand of what’s hip. I had this great beat-up-looking T-shirt, and the 21-year-old was like, “Um, no disrespect ...” and when somebody starts a conversation with “no disrespect,” you know some shit’s about to happen. She said, “Granny, you’re not a fan of bras, and so it looks a little sloppy.” So there are things you have to pay attention to—like, I’m short-waisted, but that’s no reason not to take a chance.
Overall, my style is simple. It’s all about a white shirt, some jeans, and comfortable shoes. I like the idea of not putting a lot of thought into it because then it gets in your head, and you’re dressing for other people. I’m dressing for me because, for five days of the week, I have to be on television. So I’m all about being comfortable—oversize is my preference because I like to feel like I’m still in bed.
For the red carpet, Asher Levine has great stuff. I look a little bit like Uncle Fester, but I can wear some great shoes, fantastic jewelry, and one long piece of fabric, and I’m good. Thom Browne, who has a wonderful sense of whimsy, sent me a look to wear when I presented an award to him last year. I fell madly in love with it and felt like a million bucks. I wanted to show people that you can have as much fun as you want to have in your life, in your clothing, and in the things that make you happy. To me, that is everything.
—As told to Stephanie Trong
For more stories like this, pick up the March issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Feb. 9.