I Did My Own What Not To Wear Makeover and It Worked!

Paying attention to fashion, spending time putting on makeup and shelling out money for professional hair care products seemed frivolous.

I was wrong. My lack of fashion sense, and overall presentation, smacked me right in the face this summer.

I’d nominate you

During my ‘lunch breaks’ I tuned in to reruns of TLC’s What Not To Wear – the makeover show featuring stylists Stacy London and Clinton Kelly who transformed more than 300 people in the course of 10 years.

Sitting in my denim capris and oversized t-shirt, I related to those contributors who were ambushed in their yoga pants and Crocs as they wandered out the grocery store sporting a limp ponytails and baseball caps.

After my 8-year-old suggested I go on the show, I decided to pair my style reboot with the show’s comeback slated for 2020.

Style Rules work

Working from home for the past year gave me the excuse to put my daily appearance on the back burner. In my home office, there was no dress code or need to dress to impress.

During the show, the stylists would make contributors put on their favorite outfit before telling them exactly what was wrong with it. Then, they’d proceed to throw away 90% percent of their existing wardrobe.

Normally I’d have my sister or close friends serve as my stylists, they have no problem with brutal honesty, but they’re an ocean away. Lucky for me, our daughters are willing to tell me when my clothes look like a sack.

It’s been 16 years since the first episode aired and the basic rules still apply because they’re not trend specific. I don’t have the $5,000 each contributor spent during their week in New York City, but I do have the style rules.

As I tried on clothes I would normally walk past or put something on because my girls said it would make me look pretty, I began to feel more empowered. I started to see my own style identity.

My Rules and Results

I picked three of the 10 style rules to tackle first. These were the most logical for the rut I found myself in after my 15-year fashion identity crisis, gaining and losing weight and lack of motivation to dress well when working from home.

  1. Find Clothes that Fit

I hate shopping, trying things on and spending a lot of money on clothes. I haven’t shopped by designer labels since browsing the racks at Merry-Go-Round for I.O.U. and Z. Cavaricci.

I certainly never thought to spend money on tailoring my clothes. I didn’t care how the clothes really looked as long as they buttoned and zipped. My lumpy sweaters and saggy jeans didn’t do anything for my style, much less my self esteem.

Sales racks and resale shops provide great options as long as I know what to look for: clothes that feature a defined waist; provide structure not just hang on my frame; lengthen my legs with darker washed pants and jeans; and skirts (pencil or A-line) that cut above the knee.

2. Mommy Doesn’t Mean Frumpy

Most women, and even some men, lose their identity in becoming a spouse and parent. We’re conditioned to put our needs AFTER those of our loved ones. So we go months without haircuts or color. We wear the same clothes for years. We trade our high heels for flip flops.

Even before marriage and kids, I wasn’t following any particular fashion style, I was just getting dressed. The show’s style rules helped hone in on the key parts of style that make any person, with any body type, look and feel their best.

I ditched my frumpy and outdated clothes for some key pieces that flatter my figure and give me confidence.

3. Style needs color, pattern, texture and shine

Mixing patterns, colors and textures puts you on the fast track to the Worst Dressed Lists. Or so I thought. Apparently, wearing these combinations are as much about confidence as they are about style.

Wearing clothes that fit the What Not to Wear style rules.
Working the What Not To Wear Rules about fit, color, and self care.

More Than Clothes

Hair and makeup complete any makeover. I used to apply the bare minimum to avoid looking like a sickly Victorian woman with no eyebrows.

Using the 5-Minute Face from makeup artist Carmindy proves a little effort goes a long way. I even bought a makeup brush set and organizer to ensure I keep up with the routine.

My hair has a mind of it’s own and I never know how it could look minute by minute. I followed Ted Gibson’s hairstyle advice, find quality products that complement my natural curls. Now, I wear my hair down without fear of looking like Mufasa by the end of the day.

Make your own final reveal

A style evolution takes some effort. It means being open to change and loving yourself enough to put your best self forward.

Go through your closets and purge what doesn’t make you feel good.

Bring an honest, but kind, friend or family member shopping with you to break out of style ruts.

Know putting effort into your appearance and style routine isn’t selfish, or old fashioned.

Maybe we don’t all get a televised teary-eyed reveal for our friends and family, but they will notice the difference in your appearance and confidence. More importantly, so will you.