With one of my favorite shows, What Not To Wear, wrapping up its 10 year run in July, I thought it only appropriate that I write a tribute to sartorial gurus Stacey London and Clinton Kelly.
Over the years, watching WNTW has been an enlightening experience, one that I've shared with my mom and sister. Coming home from school after months away, my mom and I would almost immediately go through the episodes she saved for me on the DVR, reveling in one of the few shows on television that takes style seriously. London and Kelly aren't mere TV personalities or fashion fans. They understand how clothes should fit different women: not just their bodies, but their personal style, lifestyles, and budgets. This is something that is hard to come by in the fashion industry, just as it is hard to come by in the average person.
As much as I've learned about the basic rules of style and fit from them- a dark wash, straight-leg jean looks good on everyone, look for jackets with seams that taper in for a more feminine shape, and you can always mix neutrals (including metallics) no matter what the colors are- I've learned even more about the importance of confidence and self-respect. Taking pride in the way you look and putting effort into your wardrobe and beauty routine does not make you vain or selfish. It need not take time away from the other important people in your life- your parents, your kids, your friends. It does not make you the center of attention everywhere you go. But it does reflect how you feel about yourself.
Contributors (the people made-over on WNTW) who dressed in shlumpy, ill-fitting clothes weren't simply women who stopped caring about style. They were usually women who stopped caring about themselves, a realization that reared its ugly head sometime during the makeover process. They had lost their sense of selves, their confidence, their feelings of power and control. Maybe their bodies had changed over the years and they had not accepted it yet. Maybe they never knew how to dress their bodies. Some women had never seen themselves as beautiful. Some women had spent so long putting everyone else ahead of themselves, they lost who they were: a loss that was only exacerbated when what they looked like stopped matching their beautiful personalities.
A makeover may not solve all of these problems, but its a good place to start. Most contributors left the show with more confidence and higher self-esteem. Their body-image issues were not necessarily fixed, but they began to accept their bodies and even see them as beautiful. If all it takes to radiate confidence and happiness is to begin wearing clothes that look and fit better, then isn't taking the time to dress yourself properly worth it? Seeing yourself differently can affect how you act, changing what is inside- for the better. Of course, looking better and radiating confidence has the positive side effect of changing the way others see you. What is important, though, is how you see yourself. If you don't think you're beautiful, or worth it, or powerful, then are you really happy?
WNTW gave a handful of women the opportunity to take control over their happiness, power, and self-esteem again. For that, I will always respect London and Kelly. The show may be over, but I hope that women will continue to learn the lessons that WNTW taught me by taking their lives into their own hands and finding their own beauty. Once women can do that, then we can truly run the world.