Stylists Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, hosts of “What Not to Wear”, didn’t know the depth of emotion that the show would take on when they first started out. They thought it was going to be about closest clean outs and wardrobe makeovers. For drama, contestants have to be unknowingly nominated. Family members or good friends, who have good intensions of helping out their loved-one, are the nominators. Almost every time the contestant at first is resistant.
As the show progressed, it became prevalent that people who have laissez-faire attitudes in the way they dress are dealing with something deeper. A lot of people lack self-love and feel that they are not worth dressing nice; that no one would care or even notice. Some people wear strange clothes to hide behind; the weirdness would draw attention away from the actual person. A lot of people are not comfortable with their bodies; they feel that there are no clothes out there that would fit them so they don’t put in any effort into what they wear. In order to deal with these emotional situations, the show had to evolve. Now the show’s main MO is helping people have more self-acceptance. They do this by teaching them how to wear the right clothes*.
Wearing the right clothes can be life changing. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it really can be. I witness so many life moments during my personal stylist appointments. It’s awesome being part of helping a person see herself in a much more positive light.
One of my clients needed a new outfit for a very important presentation. She was going for a big promotion and needed to present to the board. She had been so focused on her career for so long, she lost track of who she was. Her only identity was her career. She’s in a male dominated industry so she let her feminine side to the wayside. She even started to dress like men. She told me that her closet was full of khakis pants and golf shirts. It was time for some new clothes.
Even though she said she doesn’t wear them any more, I pulled a few dresses for her to try on while prepping for our appointment. I went with colors, fabrics and shapes that I knew would complement her body and colorings. I also went with shoes and accessories that were just the right balance of conservative-professional, with a hint of feminine.
I am not insistent to any of my clients when it comes to trying on something they are in complete resistance to. What I do is educate them on why I feel it will work for them. After I talk them through it, I let them make up their minds. In this case, she was very reluctant (at first). I didn’t remove the dresses from the room and kept my #1 choice for her in sight. After eying it for some time, she finally announced she wanted to try it on.
Once I got her in it, along with well-fitted blazer and distinctive shoes, I topped off the outfit with effortless jewelry. I turned her around to take a look in the mirror. There was silence for a few moments as she just stared at herself. Then she started to tear up. She finally turned to me and said, “I have not worn a dress since high school.” Another long look at herself. “I think I look rather good.” And then she really started crying. I put my arm around her and said, “Damn right you look good. You always have.”
We have since revamped the rest of her wardrobe. While all of it is work appropriate, first and foremost we celebrate her individual style. I’m proud to say that she owns more dresses and buys jewelry for herself. Every time I see her, I’ve noticed that she carries herself with more confidence and smiles bigger. I truly believe this has to do with her rediscovery of herself.
* This is one of the reasons why Stacy and Clinton are so dedicated to the show and why they are both on my hero list.