1. The Ambush
It’s always the same: “Do you know who we are?!” Stacy shouts, her eyes hopeful, her hands tightly wrapped around her next project. And after Clinton and Stacy project in unison, “We’re from TLC’s What Not To Wear!” the sad/excited/confused fashion victim offers a nervous laugh, a terrified but obligatory smile, or occasionally, simply collapses. Once the shock has worn off, the 5K credit card accepted and the secret footage dissected, it’s time for…
2. The 360-Degree Mirror
While some of us would pine for a mirror that displayed our every angle (here’s looking at you, Cher Horowitz), the folks on ‘What Not to Wear’ are usually recoiling in disgust when they see their favorite night-on-the-town outfit, (i.e. plaid pajama bottoms and a sequined tube top) illuminated from every angle. Nevertheless, it’s fun to watch as the makeoveree attempts to justify her rationale for the ‘fit (“The pants are so comfortable, and I’m really busty, so the bottom adds volume and distracts from the top, and….sparkles”).
3. The First Meltdown
If not on the first day of shopping, where Clinton and Stacy cruelly subject their fashionista hopeful to a day of purchasing by his or her self, the first meltdown ultimately comes that night. Captured in shaky, Blair Witch-esque close-up cam, the contestant divulges their fears and failures to the personal diary, often uttering phrases like “I just can’t do it,” and “Their rules are so hard!”
4. Clinton’s Argyle Obsession
There is only one thing Clinton Kelly loves more than layering: Argyle vests and sweaters (which are usually layered). Blue, green, hot pink—it really doesn’t matter the color or season, if it’s a diamond-shaped pattern, Clinton rocks it.
5. Stacy’s Bitch Face
A roll of the eyes, a flip of the hair, a single eyebrow raised—while usually reserved for watching the fashion-challenged shop on their first day out alone, Stacy’s bitch face is both intimidating and (somehow) adorable.
6. Carmindy’s Eternal Optimism
Perhaps the biggest payoff from watching the show comes from viewing makeup artist/goddess Carmindy Bowyer transform the now well-dressed individual into a beauty queen, if only for a moment. Along with the glamorous and perhaps overly foundationed look, comes Carmindy’s infamous “5 minute face,” an easier to obtain alternative to the full out prom-goer look. Along with stellar beauty tips, Carmindy is also an unofficial life coach, offering each woman or man who sits in her spinning chair positive reinforcements about his or her natural beauty: “You have such big, beautiful eyes!” “Your lips are so full and round!” Aw, thanks, Car!
7. Clinton’s Harsh But Necessary Honesty
“You look like a hooker,” has been uttered by Clinton Kelly in deadpan bluntness more times than Stacy can say, “Shut the front door!” He once told a woman that the pleating of her pants made it appear she had a tiny penis, and he is never shy to offer truisms such as, “A jean’s purpose in life is to make your butt look good.” Amen.
8. The Rules
Get a bra fitting every six months. Don’t waste your waistline. Don’t buy things just because they are on sale. And, if you’re going to invest in anything, invest in shoes. These “rules,” along with hundreds of others offered throughout the shows ten season run are the show’s biggest bonus. Enjoyable to watch, and applicable!
9. The Post Makeover Reunion
Some say it is a show that exists for the frivolous and shallow, but these people have not sat through the post makeover reunion. After the makeoveree is primped, pampered, and has obtained 5k worth of new goodies, she is brought back to her hometown to reveal her brand new look to family and friends. What ensues is heartwarming, tear-jerking even. Confidence is boosted, colleagues’ mouths drop, and this person reenters the world with a sense of self, no longer in a rut and ready to take on dating, family life, pursue their career—whatever the case may be.