Though What Not To Wear was put to a halt, fashion violations are still rampant – and perhaps more alive than ever.
Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, a.k.a. the dynamic stylist duo that rocked the world of daytime TV with humor, sass and priceless fashion expertise, hosted the TLC show What Not To Wear (may it rest in peace) from 2003 to 2013.
The reality show featured “fashion victim” contestants nominated by their friends and family to receive a completely new wardrobe with guidance from stylists Stacy and Clinton, as well as hairstylists Nick Arrojo and Ted Gibson, and everyone’s favorite makeup artist, Carmindy. (No last name – just ‘Carmindy.’ Like Madonna.)
Stacy London grew up in Manhattan and graduated from Vassar College with a degree in philosophy and literature. She joined WNTW after working as a fashion assistant for Vogue and Mademoiselle.
Clinton Kelly was born in Panama City, Panama, and he grew up in Long Island. He studied communications at Boston College and received his Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University. Before joining WNTW, he was a freelance magazine writer and editor.
On What Not To Wear, Stacy and Clinton planned clever ambushes (featuring lots of hidden camera footage) to surprise the contestants, critiqued their current style choices and gave them $5,000 to spend on a brand new wardrobe. However, Stacy and Clinton did much more than supervise spectacular makeovers; they helped hundreds of men and women dig deep into the roots of their fashion faux pas and offered genuine advice about confidence, self-esteem and self-presentation with the intention of showcasing each individual’s personality and beauty in the most age-appropriate way possible.
I appreciate the fact that Stacy and Clinton ensured contestants the makeover process was not about looking a certain way or conforming to a standard definition of beauty. What Not To Wear was focused on giving the contestants the tools and guidance they needed to build a solid wardrobe for their respective careers, goals and lifestyles.
I can honestly say I learned many valuable lessons from WNTW. Clinton pushed the idea of having a “signature look” – he essentially talked about self-branding before it was the cool thing to do. Stacy taught me it is perfectly OK to combine black and brown, as they are both neutrals. Even beyond the fashion tips and tricks, I will always love WNTW for going far beyond the surface-level ideas of trends and outer beauty. Unlike many other makeover shows that focus on too-quick, too-drastic transformations, What Not To Wear provided an opportunity for the contestants – oftentimes busy parents, caregivers and workaholics who hadn’t taken time for themselves in years – to learn how to present themselves in a polished, sophisticated light.
So, where are Stacy and Clinton now?
Well, they’re still inspiring, successful and fabulous – but we wouldn’t expect anything less of our favorite style gurus.
Stacy recently wrote an article for Refinery29 about how her style has evolved since her days on WNTW and how she has dealt with aging and living life according to her own terms. Today, she hosts the TLC show Love, Lust or Run – a sort of What Not To Wear spinoff (it’s really not the same at all) – with her signature Stacy London humor and some very entertaining contestants. She has also written a book, The Truth About Style, and she contributes to numerous publications and makes regular appearances on talk shows and news networks.
Clinton Kelly is as “freakin’ fabulous” as ever – he is a host on ABC’s The Chew and has written three books about fashion and lifestyle. Clinton contributes to Woman’s Day magazine and has created a variety of clothing and home good lines – he even has his own stationery brand at PAPYRUS. In 2015, Clinton returned to TLC for Love At First Swipe, a makeover show tailored to contestants in search of love via dating apps and websites.
The truth is that Stacy and Clinton will continue to inspire and offer valuable expertise no matter what – but nothing will compare to the dream team’s What Not To Wear adventures, which were entertaining, intriguing and uplifting.
Though the possibility of a WNTW revival is looking pretty bleak, we will always have the memories (and images of the 360º mirror) in our hearts. *Insert dramatic sobs here.*
Photo credit: TLC, Giphy