Michael Slezak
September 07, 2007 AT 06:51 PM EDT

True confession: A few minutes into last night’s premiere on Bravo of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style — at the precise moment the handsome, silver-haired host told jeans-and-t-shirt gal Rebecca Pennino that her makeover journey was likely to be “painful emotionally” — I was ready to dismiss the show as ridiculous hooey. And for the most part, it is. I mean, that panty-store proprietor’s proclamation that “a solid foundation in lingerie absolutely gives a woman the most confidence she’ll ever have”? Come on! More than a good education? Or a rewarding, high-paying job? Or true love?

But then again, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience a moment of fashion introspection when Gunn and co-host Veronica Webb (pictured with Gunn) started the segment about how “silhouette, proportion, and fit” should be a person’s primary considerations in choosing his or her clothes. Especially when my own criteria basically boil down to “color, price, and ability to hide troublesome spare tire.” Cut to scary daydream where I’m trying on all my favorite garments as Gunn and Webb tut-tut and gasp about how my cherished plaid pants make my legs look stubby.

addCredit(“Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style: Barbara Nitke”)

Seriously, though, Guide to Style works as more than anamusing quip-fest precisely because the co-hosts really know their wayaround a rack of clothing. The trench coat, white wrap shirt, and Catherine Malandrinopatterned dress that ended up in Rebecca’s closet were as stylish asthey were practical. I just wish that horrendous software program Timwas using hadn’t added forty pounds to Rebecca’s frame. And that theshow’s producers had left Jai Rodriguez 2.0 in the sample bin. Anyonewho thinks wearing a plastic bag and listening to the music in yourhead is the world’s best one-hour self-esteem booster has clearly neverseen a little show called Oprah (or eaten a pint of Häagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche).

Even worse, time spent with hokey new-age cheerleaders cuts intoGunn time, and it’s ultimately his dry wit, big heart, and plus-sizedvocabulary that might just draw me back for a second or third helpingof Guide to Style. Gunn’s visceral response to leggings wasfunnier than most scripted sitcom punch lines; ditto for his “I’mfeeling woeful” comment after seeing which of her clothes Rebecca hadidentified as “keepers.” Webb, to my surprise, tossed in severalwinning bon mots of her own, particularly the observation thatRebecca’s fashion rut was “so deep there’s, like, magma down there.”Sure, I’m a little worried that if Tim always makes his makeoversubjects buy the same “10 essential items” — trench coat, little blackdress, sweatsuit alternative, etc — that Guide to Style couldget stuck in its own deep rut. But at least until the new fall seasonkicks into gear at the end of the month, I’m planning on carrying onand tuning in. How ’bout you, P-Dubs?

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