I love The Learning Channel’s What Not to Wear. Let’s get this out of the way right now. I love Stacy and Clinton, I love their modus operandi, I love watching a fashion ugly duckling learn to shop to eventually be revealed as the lovely creature hiding within.
Of course I never follow any of the sage fashion advice offered by my two fashion heroes. I don’t think I’ve ever tried on a piece of clothing in the store in my considerable lifetime. I do learn, in a manner, the difference between the poorly attired versus the those who took some moments to present themselves to the world as if they cared.
The problem is, as I have deduced, that we all do not walk around on this planet with a mirror reflecting back upon us what the rest of the world sees as we traverse through our lives. What Not to Wear effectively, but with kindness, forces the subject of the week to stop and look in that mirror and see themselves as the rest of us see them.
How it works is this: somebody nominates an obvious fashion disaster in their surround. Like my daughter, perhaps, just throwing it out there. Stacy and Clinton then arrange a surprise ambush of the fashion victim, then promise her $5,000 to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe. There are caveats, but of course.
The fashion victim must allow Stacy and Clinton to go through her entire wardrobe, tossing those items that cause pain with the view. The whole time the fashion victim and the viewing audience get a somewhat brutal lesson in what works and what does not in the world of clothing.
The fashion victim must then dress in an outfit that she would normally wear. She will then step into a closet outfitted with mirrors all over, the equivalent of a torture chamber for most women. Stacy and Clinton then join her and critique the outfit, the drawbacks, how the boobs hang out disrespectfully, the crotch hangs down sloppily, the shoes so don’t belong with the outfit.
Stacy and Clinton then provide “rules” for the fashion victim to apply before she begins her shopping journey to purchase an entirely new wardrobe that will change her life forever.
There’s always some angst during this hour-long fashion transformation. The fashion victim has “body image” issues; goodness, what woman on this planet doesn’t? Which is not to belittle the important message this series brings. People do perceive a young female attorney who wears low-cut blouses and shockingly short skirts as a not-so-serious lawyer. In the first episode of this season, Dancing With the Star’s dance mentor Cheryl Burke nominated her cherished assistant for a fashion makeover.
She was a lovely woman and in charge of a top notch organization. Yet she wore nothing but jeans and a big tent top for every event in her schedule, whether it be her normal workday or a formal party.
The final reveal is, as these type of shows go, the climax of the episode. The fashion victim has by now purchased her $5,000 worth of clothes and had a complete hair and make-up do-over. Then, modeling three different outfits that represent various events most of us attend in the course of our lives, the fashion victim appears in the event-appropriate outfit, including sassy shoes, classic accessories, perfectly styled hair, and make-up applied to emphasize the positive. The viewing audience is regaled by the incredible change in the fashion victim from start of the show to this finale.
Critics might pooh-pooh that such as fashion is not the staff of life, to be concerned with same is to be superficial, shallow, perhaps a bit dumb.
What’s really dumb is to allow what you put on your body to create perceptions that cloud any actions, fog up genuine personality, and unintentionally deceive the world as to the grand person under those garments.
What Not to Wear is aired on TLC on Tuesday nights at 9p/8c.