Paula Deen, southern cookbook queen, former Dancing With the Stars contenstant and butter’s biggest fan, has taken a lot of bold steps in her career. But her most recent step is one away from the pantry and towards the walk-in closet, with the debut of her brand new clothing line, Paula Deen’s Closet, which she launched with Evine this week.
Surprised? Don’t be — it’s been a long time coming.
Courtesy of Evine
“I’ve been trying to do this for years,” Deen told PeopleStyle today. “It was a little hard for me to break out of the kitchen because that’s how people think of me. But if you notice, I never cooked naked. I was always wearing clothes! And one of my most asked questions out there — whether it’s in person, through the mail, or on Facebook — is ‘Paula, where did you get that top? Where did you get that outfit?’ So I wanted to do something like this because I understand the body that’s not perfect. You see all these things made for bananas. Well, I’m an apple. Most women are an apple or a pear. There are not many bananas.”
Courtesy of Evine
That’s why she made her line of tops, dresses, and pants full of flattering fits, from ombré knits to stretch maxis to kimono sleeve tunics. “When you get up over 30, most of us don’t have those perfect bodies anymore,” she said. “You have to accentuate your good points and try to camouflage your bad ones. I want to cover all body types. I am not trying to please just one person. I’m trying to please a multitude of people with this line. And I think people trust me. They know that I will not lie to them … To the best of my knowledge, I will tell the truth.”
Therefore, she created the line with a few priorities in mind. First, she took great concern with the length of the tops and making them long enough to hit below the hips. “I don’t know how to say this to you in a nice way, but it has to cover my front privates,” she said. “I want my shirttail to cover my front privates and hopefully my back, too. I am aware of ‘catfish belly’ arms. Have you ever seen a catfish? You know how they have a smooth floppy belly on them? Well, that’s what we refer to as ‘catfish belly’ arms.”
Cleavage is also a focus, particularly not showing any. “When I’m doing V-necks, I want that placement perfect so you can lean over and you don’t have wardrobe malfunctions,” she said. “I don’t like when you show everything.”
The price is also important to her; everything is under $60. “Just like when I opened my very first restaurant, I told my sons, ‘We want to serve the very best meal that we’re capable of preparing at a fair price’,” she said. “So everything I do must have value. People must feel like they are being treated fairly. I’m not interested in trying to gouge anybody.”
Finally, she wanted all her items to be comfortable. “I like to think that I’m comfortable to be around, and that definitely transfers into the clothing line,” she said. “And at the stage I’m in, comfort is important. That’s definitely the way I feel about my shoes. I think so many young girls kill their feet with their shoes.”
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That’s not the only thing that she finds perplexing about the PYTs of today. “I’m quite puzzled when I see a lot of things,” she said. “There are a lot of funky styles out. I had to get used to the jeans with rips in them. But now I’m cool with it. I get it now. But that took me a while to understand why you’d want to wear things with holes on them.”
However, she still hasn’t gotten on board with the super-revealing styles on red carpets today. “Definitely [young people are] showing a lot more than when I was their age,” she said. “Do you think the Kardashians are somewhat responsible for that? I don’t know. I mean I don’t know them. But the role models are there that these girls have to follow, they want to be trendy too.”
Paula Deen will return to the Evine studios today to promote her line, and you can see the entire line on evine.com.
—Sharon Clott Kanter