How I get dressed
Joan Rivers: Comedian, 72, loves designer clothes - as long as they're free
Sunday 14 May 2006
Do you have the expression 'knock-off' in Britain? Yeah, well the very first outfit I bought with my own money was an Ann Fogarty knock-off in black linen-like fabric. Linen-like, not real linen. You couldn't smoke within 100 yards of it, and the buttons were turning black in front of you.
My summer jobs were always in department stores so I could get discount. I worked at Lord and Taylor in New York and my pay envelope would come back saying: You Owe Us. Ann Fogarty was a huge designer, she was on the third floor. As you climbed higher, you got the cheaper stuff. I got the knock-off on the seventh floor. I got that and a little straw boater, and I thought I was the best-looking thing on Fifth Avenue.
I have loved clothes all my life, and most of my memories - good or bad - I can tell you exactly what I was wearing. I always had to have the latest thing. I was just hitting my teens when there was a terrible style called the Tube dress, which you wore with a big belt round the middle. I must have been 5ft 2 tall and 5ft 2 across, not a good idea.
But if I hadn't been a fat teenager, I would never have been funny. If I had been as skinny as one of those supermodels I would never have developed my sense of humour. You ever spoken to a model? Oh please. Cindy Crawford? Do you think anyone ever says, 'Stop it, stop it Cindy, you're killing me!'
When I married in 1967 I wore black. I married him in four days, and I was so glad to get married, I wasn't going to wait for the white dress to come in. I'd found this chump. I thought, 'This man's a fool!' I went to Bloomingdales, and bought a little black dress with ecru trim and a little green velvet running across the bodice. It looked very pretty.
I was still struggling, and there was a place called A S Beck, where you could buy cheap shoes and they'd dye them to match the dress. If you squinted until your eyes were nearly closed they looked good. I adore shoes, I always wear very, very high heels, not just because I'm a midget. Heels make even an ugly leg look shapely. No question. Thirty years ago at a New York fashion ceremony, I gave Manolo Blahnik the award for best young shoe designer. He was so excited, he said to me on the podium: 'Shoes for you, free for life,' but then as we left the stage, he said, 'shoes for life, 50% off'. And as I took him back to the table he said, 'shoes for life, 33 %'. I said, 'That's it', and I fled. So to this day I get 33% off.
I wear mostly Manolos, which are not just sexy and fabulous, they have a great last also. His shoes you can wear on the treadmill they are so comfortable. Also, a theatrical fashion designer once told me that whenever you're worried, pop the whole outfit with an insane colour shoe, and it looks great and he's absolutely right.
Colour is so important. I adore colour, and certain colours attract men. Every smart woman should wear pink, because it reminds men of the nipple. It's true! I was told this by a psychologist. Also Cecil Beaton advised me about pink. One of my many, many jobs I had on my way to semi-success, I worked for him when he was in New York, as his kind of Girl Friday.
He told me, 'Onstage, you must always have pink lights above, blue lights below, and grey velour behind you.' And to this day when I'm on stage, every light is pink. That's why I wear a lot of pink near my face too.
Outfits have become exorbitantly expensive. I just bought a coat and dress for $6,000. Outrageous. I'm in a very lucky position, because people lend me clothes. So two thirds of what you see me in, take a good look because it's going back tomorrow. But every season I try to buy two or three great things to wear to luncheons or fabulous dinners. I hang out with ladies who spend $15,000 on a gown and just don't blink.
It's tragic, I have no time to shop. I have a stylist in California who comes to my daughter's house with a rack of clothes, and it's done, in one fell swoop. I hate it. You know there are things out there you might have liked better, but he just didn't pick 'em. It's much more fun to go into a store, but I just don't have time.
Favourite designers? Anyone that gives me the clothes. There's a wonderful woman called Vera Wang. Embarrassing name, but not when your father owns Wang Industries. You get over it very fast when it's up there on a building. I wore Michael Vollbracht for Bill Blass this year when I was covering the red carpet for the Oscars.
I borrow jewellery too, like everyone else. For the Oscars I mixed my own little Joan Rivers bracelet, which I sell for $49 on QVC, with one million dollars of Fred Leighton diamond bracelets and gorgeous diamond and emerald earrings. If you borrow from Harry Winstone, they send a guard with you, which is hilarious, because he's always mistaken as your date.
I have masses of clothes, but you know what? At home I hate to get dressed if I don't have to, so often I wear a bathrobe. It's blue velour and I got it from a catalogue. And airline socks on my feet. I walk into the kitchen and the dogs throw up.
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