When it comes to fashion, Bo Derek says, she was never a 10

Whether they were hip-hugging bell-bottoms or Nehru jackets we've all followed fashion trends that look today like cast-offs from a Halloween party. And Hollywood's royalty is no exception. 

Bo Derek remembers her fashion faux pas, "I did wear a lot of the hippie and peasant dresses when they weren't in fashion," she says, seated in a secluded meeting room of a hotel here.  

"I did get on Mr. Blackwell's (hit) list a lot, but now they're back. If I showed you a picture from the 80s, I'd be wearing flared jeans, but now they are back in fashion. I think if you get old enough it comes back again," she laughs. "Take vintage clothes, the jeans, the low hip-huggers, belts and jackets. You can't even find those anymore. People have snatched them up." 

Making fun of the way we were is the mission of the new show, I Can't Believe I Wore That, airing Dec. 5-8 on WE: Women's Entertainment. Derek co-hosts the show with Dave Coulier, but she says show business has taken a back seat in her life. 

Derek - AP Photo

"I sort of left a long, long time ago," says Derek who's dressed in a white camisole, print chiffon blouse, white pants and sandals. 

"You really have to have that hunger and drive in this business, and I never had it. But you're young and you find yourself in it and at the place where I was - which was at the top for a while. Life is nice when you pursue other interests and things you care about. So I'm enjoying my life, and every once in a while something like this comes along and it's easy and fun." 

Always shy, Derek was groomed and tutored by her older husband, the late actor-producer John Derek. It was because of him that she maintained a touch of class through all the fashion mishaps that tumbled down the runway. 

"I dressed - my husband was very forceful, this whole Svengali thing which wasn't true - but I dressed for him. I think most women, if they dressed for their man, wouldn't get caught as much. I think they dress for each other more. And the social pressure to have bigger shoulder pads, or lower blue jeans. But it's usually not for the man, it's for the other woman. And the competition to fit in - which is natural - to fit into the clan. My husband was very opinionated, so I escaped a lot of the embarrassment," she says. 

It's hard to imagine this pristine beauty mucking out a stall or hunching over a sewing machine. But she does both. "When I'm home, I keep busy. I'm moving all the time. I have a ranch and I don't have help. That helps. There's a new study that says you should keep moving and don't sit so much. So I figured a while ago to pick up the pace," she says. 

"I don't go to gyms and when I travel, I vegetate and get horribly out of shape. When I start to put on a few pounds, I just take on a project and get busy. If you go on a diet you just become obsessed with food. If I think, `I should diet,' it just triggers a switch in my brain. If I think, `I better diet,' all I do is eat, eat, eat. So I put in a vegetable garden this summer. It sure beats the gym." 

The day before, Derek was altering clothes on her sewing machine. The project began when she re-fitted a jacket for a friend. That went well so she hauled out all the pants that didn't quite fit and a couple of Armani jackets that needed a tuck or two. "I pretty much know my body type and I know there are things I shouldn't even try on," she says. 

"I have a strange shape, anything that needs an a**. There are just so many things I know to stay away from. And I'll wear inexpensive as well as expensive clothes, it just depends on the item," she says. 

"My grandmother taught me to sew and I used to make all my school clothes. You learn so much, what cuts are going to work for you. It's such an art." 

Distancing herself from show business has been a conscious choice. "Everyone says their personal life is the most important, but it really was with me, and still is. The business has been great to me, it's just opened up so many doors in my life. I've loved it, but I've never had that passion. 

"I think you learn from example and to my father, quality of life was always more important. He went through many, many jobs and when the next fun one came along - or he got bored with his job - even with four children he didn't feel the obligation to stay and keep up a certain lifestyle. So there were times when we had lots of money and times when we had no money, but the idea of quality of life and waking up and enjoying the day was the most important and that's very unusual." 

In the meantime, Derek runs her own company, Bless the Beast, which provides supplies for pets. And she also serves on the board of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. "I'm a trustee. Talk about a new world, I'm the only person who works for a living on the board. These are all zillionaires. It's a presidential appointment. It's incredibly prestigious and it's a wonderful board. We meet four times a year, but it's our nation's performing arts centre. They let me feel like I belong there." 

- Copyright (C) 2005 KRT News Service