(In all fairness, they volunteered, and he was gentle. Their sartorial sins? Light-wash jeans from the juniors department, dock shoes, over-sized polo shirts, and blah colors.)
We did a Q&A with him for our print edition, but here is a longer (and more style-y) version of the Q&A for people who just can't get enough Clinton.
Mom jeans. Muffin tops. Airbrushed fingernails.
These are just a few fashion mistakes TLC’s What Not To Wear co-hosts Clinton Kelly and Stacy London have seen time and time again on their long-running reality makeover show.
All that hands-on experience (plus his background as a former editor at Marie Claire and deputy editor at Mademoiselle) has made Kelly something of a style expert. He’s compiled the worst fashion atrocities in his new book, Oh No She Didn’t: Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them.
Kelly will be making an appearance at the Macy’s store in Oak Court Mall on Friday, November 12th to sign books and serve as host for the Macy’s Fashion Challenge. In the Fashion Challenge, audience members will be selected by Kelly to dress models for anything from a dream job interview to a star-studded red carpet event. The winner of each challenge receives a $100 Macy’s gift card.
— by Bianca Phillips
Flyer: What’s one of the worst style mistake women make?
Kelly: Mistaking a cross-training sneaker for casual footwear. That is, by far, the biggest mistake women in America make. A cross-trainer is meant for training for some kind of event, whether that’s walking the mall for fitness or sweatin’ to the oldies with Richard Simmons or going to gym. It is not meant for going to the dentist, the supermarket, and especially not to work.
What’s the most important rule to keep in mind when dressing?
One thing to remember is fit. If you don’t have fit, you don’t have style. The essence of style is good fit. If your clothes are too tight, you’ll look like a stuffed sausage. If they’re too loose, you’ll look like a schlump.
I would encourage women to go through their closets and weed out anything that doesn’t make them feel good. In the morning, you’re supposed be excited about going into your closet and putting on an outfit and facing the day.
You’re not supposed to go into your closet and have a nervous breakdown every morning. You’re not supposed to just settle for stuff that’s good enough. My one biggest piece of advice would be to not settle for okay. You need to settle for fantastic or at least great.
Do you find that some women just don’t understand when a trend is over?
It is tricky. If you’re a casual shopper or a less-than-casual shopper, sometimes you can buy something and not realize that it’s very of-the-moment. I don’t see that as much as some other things I’ve seen. I do live in New York, where people are very, very conscious of trends. But I do travel as well.
I either see people who are dressing on trend or people who are dressing without any trend at all. That’s a big problem. I think trends are important, and it’s important to keep up fashion-wise because I think trends define us as a generation, like the ‘50s with big poodle skirts or the ‘80s with big hair or shoulder pads or the ‘90s with grunge.
You should pay attention when you’re shopping. If you buy something this season that really wasn’t in style at all last season, then chances are it’s not going to be in style at all next season.
You have to shop with certain trends in mind. The ruffle trend has been around for a while. That’s going to stick around I’m sure. The skinny jean has been around for a while. That’s going to stick around. But the fur Rachel Zoe vest, I can’t imagine that being around next year.
There’s a common belief in the South that we’re a little behind when it comes to fashion. Is it harder for people in not-so-fashion-forward cities to stay on top of trends?
I’m a big proponent of dressing appropriately for your town or city. Do I think it’s the worst thing in the world to be dressing a season behind New York City? Absolutely not. But you shouldn’t be dressing a decade behind.
I don’t expect the average woman of Memphis to be saying, ‘I need to be on trend with the women of Paris, Milan, and New York.’ If you want to do that and fashion is your hobby, that’s fantastic.
But if you’re just going to work and raising some kids, I don’t think its super important. What’s important is that you look good. I’ve found that women across the country aren’t so much interested in trend. They just want to look pretty.
Staying on top of trends can be expensive. Are there certain pieces that never go out of style?
A great black trouser never goes out of style. A beautiful patterned trouser, like a glen plaid, never goes out. Your black pencil skirt, a denim pencil skirt.
A cute ballet flat is also a great option. Also a pump will generally stay in style for five years minimum, but not that ‘80s pump with the egg-shaped toe. Some boots are great investments because they don’t scream a certain year.
A dark-washed jean is a great investment because that’s not going to go out of style either, so long as it doesn’t have an embellishment on the butt or rips or tears.
Also, a great white blouse or a white button-front shirt with a little detail to it. Cardigans are always a good option. A two-button or three-button jacket that’s very simple in construction with a notch lapel.
Are there any trends that were never right?
I’m not so thrilled about the clog being back. Oh, the Croc is a trend that I wish had never happened. I’m really not thrilled about Uggs. I know they’re comfortable and they’re fine for around the house, but they’ve become the new lazy comfort shoe.
On "What Not to Wear," you help people dress according to their body shape. Do you ever think that might encourage people not to lose weight?
I can’t tell you how many women I’ve kept in touch with after they’ve left What Not to Wear that have said that when they got home, the pounds just started melting off and they had to buy all new clothes.
"What Not to Wear" is the best weight-loss secret in America. We don’t really talk about that so much as a follow-up, but I think a lot of it has to do with wearing clothes that fit. Once you’re wearing clothes that fit your body, it is so much easier for you to keep track of any weight gain. When you wear elastic waist pants, you could gain 20 pounds and not even realize it because your pants still fit. It’s really hard to lose 20 pounds. But when you’re wearing pants that fit your waist and you gain five or three pounds, you notice your pants getting a little tight. It’s easier to lose that three pounds.
Also, I think those women’s self-esteem has gone through the roof and they feel really good about themselves. They’re excited to wake up in the morning and get dressed and run their errands. The weight just starts to come off naturally because you’re taking better care of themselves. They’re willing to take the stairs instead of the elevator. They’re just excited to be alive.
I think a lot of weight gain in this country has to do with depression. I think a lot of people are depressed and they don’t like their bodies. They give up and it’s just a vicious cycle. I think that, when you feel better about yourself, you’re more excited to take care of your body.
How’d you do the research for the book?
The publishers gave me a little handshake deal. They said, ‘Let’s do this book. We’ll put a contract together.’ Their offices were on 6th Avenue and 48th Street and I decided to take the subway home. I walked to 7th and 48th, which is pretty much smack in the middle of Times Square. I said, ‘you know I’m going to get a coffee before I get on the subway.’
So I went to a Starbucks and I sat down at the window with my tall latte. I watched all the tourists walk by, and I thought, ‘I should start doing my research for this book right now.’ In the amount of time it took me to have one tall latte, I’d written down 85 mistakes that I saw go by the window.
If a woman avoids all of the style mistakes in your book, would she be a fashion maven?
I’ve never thought about it that way, but I guess if you did avoid all 100 style mistakes, you would be a style superstar. Even some very fashionable people have made a few mistakes in my book.