You wouldn't know it by searching my closet, but I love the show What Not to Wear. I found the show during my early 20s as I was making the awkward transition between teen and adult, and I'm very glad I did. Clinton Kelly and his cohorts taught me all I know about fashion, and I find myself still heeding the advice of how important fit is when choosing clothing – style isn't everything.
So, when I heard that Clinton Kelly was going to be at the downtown Seattle Macy's and the event was going to be catered by Macy's Culinary Council Chef Tom Douglas, I knew I couldn't miss it. I planned a girls’ day shopping event with my step mom to celebrate since we were both big fans of the show and it only seemed natural that we go see him together.
But, even before the day of the event we were trading texts about what we should wear. Not knowing how the event was going to be run we weren’t sure what kind of attire was going to go over best. In the end, I decided to go with the safe route. My step mom went adventurous. In hindsight, I wish I would have put a little more thought into my outfit but I really didn’t want to land myself into a What Not to Wear situation.
As I said, I was a big fan of What Not to Wear, but up until last Saturday I didn’t think that I was a huge fan of Clinton Kelly himself. Sure, he was funny and he knew his stuff, but he also dispensed criticism for a living. Talk about a rough gig.
He started off the event by announcing he was going to be randomly pulling people from the audience to go up on stage so he could critique their outfits, which was met with horrified looks until we realized that he was clearly joking. He then proceeded to tell us that, as a rule, he does not dispense fashion advice unless explicitly requested.
Then he started the fashion show portion of the event, showcasing some of the season's hottest trends. He taught us how to wear each trend for different body types and different ages, and mentioned where each item could be purchased in-store.
After the fashion show was done, Clinton Kelly spoke to all of us about fashion, what it was like working on the What Not to Wear set for 10 years, how relieved he is to be done with the show after a decade of criticizing wardrobes, and then answered some audience questions.
While I could fill a small novel with the things I learned from Clinton Kelly, here's a small snippet of what I took away from the event:
- Leggings are not pants. Cover your crotch.
- Find a good tailor. You'd be surprised at how many ways you can tailor the clothing you already have so that it best fits and flatters.
- Keeping up with fashion trends signals to the world that you have not checked out and are still relevant in today’s world.
- Don’t take fashion advice from reruns of What Not to Wear. The rules are constantly changing.
- Your shoes and your purse DO NOT HAVE TO MATCH.
- When dressing, you should pair flowy with fitted.
- A dress that is V-neck, high waisted, and has a flared skirt looks good on just about everyone.
- On average, a girl has to try on 20 pairs of jeans before she finds the perfect fit. Don't give up too easily.
- Find a brand of jeans that fits and stick with it.
- If you have a short dress, make sure it’s not also low cut. That’s not the look we’re going for.
- Get a professional bra fitting by someone who has been doing it for years, not a teenager working a part-time job.
- It’s too easy to wear comfortable clothes and eat crappy food in America. Don’t let yourself go in clothes that stretch. Before you know it, you will have 20 pounds to lose.
- Dress for the body you have now, not the way it used to be or the way you hope it will be.
- Go through your closet a few times a year and try everything on. Get rid of anything that does not fit right now.
- And, above all: Look cute and don’t take any crap
As you can see, Clinton didn’t just dispense fashion advice; he gave good, solid life advice. Some of the things he said have been reverberating around my head since the event and I honestly feel like I learned more in one afternoon with Clinton than I did in years of flipping through fashion magazines.
We left the show feeling energized and ready to overhaul our wardrobes, so we searched out a few pieces from the fashion show and tried them on. It had been quite a while since we had gone shopping together, so we had a blast choosing outfits for each other and pairing things while trying our best to follow Clinton's advice.
After we had some new clothing, we went and got our makeup done at the Estee Lauder counter and loaded up on some of the products that we were trying. I went with a plum dramatic eye… what do you think?
Want to find out more about Clinton Kelly?
Clinton Kelly is the co-host of What Not to Wear on TLC and The Chew on ABC Daytime. He is the author of Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate and Generally Be Better than Everyone Else and Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them.
If Clinton Kelly is coming to a Macy's near you, I would highly recommend dropping whatever you are doing to go see him. You really won't regret it. But, if he's not coming to your town soon and you still want Clinton's help, you can use the hashtag #HelpMeClinton on Twitter and he, or one of the style experts on his team, will get back to you with helpful advice or tips.