“I love women,” says Bobbie Thomas.
“I know that sounds weird, coming from a heterosexual woman who just got married,” the “Today” show’s style editor – fresh off her two-week honeymoon in Jamaica – says to me over the phone. “But I do.”
Thomas, in town Wednesday for a Q&A surrounding the release of her new book, The Power of Style: Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Dressed Tomorrow (HarperOne, $25), calls Philly a great “educational hub” for fashion. “I’m a big fan of indie brands and it’s hard to find things that are special,” she says. “I wish there was an effort to pull for more home-grown stuff.”
This level of thoughtfulness and consideration when it comes to touting fashion is what differentiates Thomas from the sea of editors who coexist in today’s glorified bubble of glossies, digital publications, television shows, and personal branding.
“For me, fashion and beauty are just components style,” she says. “Style is a form of self expression and how we express ourselves to the world.” Thomas explains how this is relayed not only through the clothes we wear, but it’s largely rooted in confidence – and how it’s relayed to others. She notes how style is largely perceived as a superficial entity, a materialistic obsession, but “it’s the bigger package for me,” Thomas exclaims.
“I know people say ‘do what you love, what motivates you, and what makes you happy,’ ” she says. “But how we do that best?”
Thomas says by defining “those moments” of personal fulfillment and happiness. For the style editor, it was connecting with other women. “I knew my passion at the core was connecting with women of all ages; whereas my side hobby was making clothes.” A former rape crisis counselor who received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Idaho, Thomas has an incredibly interesting story. One that haphazardly brought her first to the red carpet for E!, later as a co-host of the Style network’s Fashion Police, and finally as the Today show’s style editor.
“The word that comes to mind,” says Thomas, is ‘survivor.’” The author and personality, who's experienced her fair share of lifelong hardships, as she openly bared in a profile with the University of Idaho’s publication called The Power of Lipstick, makes one point clear: “Experiences don’t define us, they inform us and allow us to move forward.”
So how did someone with a psychology background go from counseling emotionally distraught women for 3 years to sharing the latest trends before millions of women across American households? When it comes to Thomas’s mission, the difference is very slight.
“One day I saw this teen magazine and one of the stories dealt with having a boob job,” she says. Thomas, who was handed the developing publication while at a photoshoot, says she felt in that moment at a loss for the girls who would later read the piece. Thomas says her immediate reaction was, “Oh my God, these people can influence so many young girls!”
We discuss how formative and critical a young girl’s teenage years are to her overall confidence levels later in life. “In that moment I told myself, ‘I would do anything to tell these girls that confidence is sexy and not a boob job’”- something she stated to the magazine's editor, who later approached her to write a column. From there, Thomas worked tirelessly to build up her brand.
There was that moment when Thomas sat in her Spanx on the “Today” show. “Here I am, I’m not a perfect size 0,” she says on baring her bumps and all on national television. “I didn’t want to ask women to do something I wouldn’t do myself,” she explains, adding that our society needs to understand why women have body image issues in the first place. “We subconsciously pick up from other women – how they see themselves, how they view us.” Ultimately, Thomas says, these subtle signals affect how we view ourselves.
“When I was growing up, it seemed like all of the guys could bond over sports– They had their coaches and Friday night games, while girls were super competitive,” she says. “There just wasn’t an opportunity to unite women, and I think a lot of girls find themselves in that position.”
“We have to push the domino with women supporting other women,” she pleads. Thomas sees style as a means of binding women together. “So many of these women don’t realize how beautiful they are,” the author adds. For The Power of Style, Thomas searched everywhere for “healthy, gorgeous examples of everyday women.” She explains, “Something about them that had that spark." The warm personality adds, “I was happy to embarrass myself, happy to embarrass the girls I work with when I plucked these women from the streets.”
“Listen, it took me six years to get a ‘yes’ for my book,” she says, noting that it didn’t matter that she was the go-to gal for all things related to style on the number one morning show in the country. “I put this book out there asking each individual woman to help herself, therefore helping women as a whole.”
The time has come for Bobbie Thomas to finally share years of experiences and tips with women worldwide. “Consider me a professional girlfriend!” she exclaims. An infectious, bright example for industry professionals and women everywhere.
Event details: Girl's Night Out with Bobbie Thomas, Wednesday, June 19, 6 p.m-8 p.m., at Skai Blue Media (109 S. 13th St., Suite 119A). RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-625-7988.