What Not to Wear used to be the most frivolous of TLC's programming, back when TLC still stood for "The Learning Channel," and featured shows about science, history, technology -- you know, stuff you might want to know more about. Today TLC is the network that brings us Honey Boo Boo, Long Island Medium, Sister Wives and Breaking Amish.
Shows like those above (among others) are what makes WNTW just about the only show airing on TLC teaching us anything at all. Are the fashion lessons that hosts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly give frivolous? Before one says "Yes!" one should consider the state most contestants arrive in -- anywhere between "all day in sweats" and "slutty club attire for grocery shopping and/or kids' parties."
Now, after a decade on the air, Stacy and Clinton have decided to stop jumping out at unsuspecting fashion victims and waving $5,000 gift cards in their faces.
If you've never seen What Not to Wear, the premise is simple: Stacy and Clinton surprise a poorly dressed individual who has been nominated for the show (by friends or family) and offer her a makeover, a $5,000 wardrobe and styling/shopping lessons in exchange for total control over the individual's current wardrobe. The individual packs up her wardrobe and brings it to New York City, where Stacy and Clinton explain what is wrong with her clothes, throw out pretty much everything, and then teach the individual a few basic shopping and styling rules.
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Unlike most makeover shows, this one involves a lot of instruction for the participant/fashion victim. Stacy and Clinton don't just throw her into new clothes and makeup and send her off into the world; they explain why her current wardrobe doesn't work, how to dress for her age and body shape, and when certain things are appropriate (work vs. casual vs. date night). It's not rocket science, and Stacy and Clinton are always the first ones to point that out. Among the pearls of wisdom oft-repeated on the show:
• Dark denim is dressier than light-wash denim and more versatile, so you'll get more bang for your buck out of dark jeans. • Baggy, shapeless clothes don't hide your body -- they make you look baggy and shapeless. Structured clothes can give you the body shape you want; sweats and yoga pants cannot. • Whether or not people "should" judge you on your clothes is one thing, but the fact is that people DO -- so dress for respect.
Most What Not to Wear fans probably saw the writing on the wall for the show. Clinton Kelly's show The Chew has proven strong enough to survive to a second season, and London has continued to grow her own entrepreneurial pursuits, such as "Style for Hire," a company that pairs people with stylists living in their city.
The final season of WNTW has been taped, and will begin airing in July. New episodes are currently running on TLC on Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CT. Enjoy it while it lasts -- when this is over, all we have left are the Gypsy Sisters.