Clinton Kelly, the co-host of TLC's “What Not to Wear,” is a man of many talents. Obviously, he's got style: He and Stacy London have restyled hundreds of fashion frumps, banishing clothes that bag and sag, and substituting fresh looks and accessories.
A former editor at Mademoiselle and fashion trade pub DNR, Kelly is putting out a book this fall titled “How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better Than Everyone Else.” Not to mention hawking a new clothing line on QVC. We rang up the Renaissance man to find out how he does it.
Q. Why is it so difficult for people to see how they look?
Believe it or not, a lot of people do not have full-length mirrors. People just don't put the effort into it. They buy things without trying things on. They don't listen to that little voice inside them.
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Q. So if someone's going to make over her wardrobe, she'll need to spend that kind of time?
Shopping is step one; tailoring is step two. The other two secrets: a bra fitting, because the clothes will just hang better. Four is shapewear – maybe it's a tummy tamer or a thigh slimmer.
Q. You don't mince words on the show. How hard is it to tell it like it is?
I don't find it to be that difficult when I'm doing the show. People have signed on at that point. I'm there to help them – it doesn't help to lie to them. In my real life, I don't walk around criticizing people. I think people are afraid to walk up to me at a cocktail party sometimes, which I find incredibly depressing.
Q. Who are your favorite designers?
I wear a lot of Etro, Hugo Boss, and Ted Baker. My new thing is I'm buying fewer things that are higher quality – custom suits and shirts. I don't have a ton of things. Oh, I also wear Rock & Republic jeans. …
Q. Overall, who dresses better: men or women?
In America, women dress better. In London, men dress better. American men, forget about it. They won't take chances.
Q. If there are three style rules everyone should adhere to, what are they?
Fit, proportion, and appropriateness. Without fit you can't have style. End of story. …Proportion: the size of accessories, prints, and clothing should be proportional to your frame. If you're small, you don't want to overwhelm. And then appropriateness. The thing about dressing down at work – it's inappropriate. And these college students who wear pajamas to class? It's disrespectful. I think you can be comfortable and stylish at the same time.