Clinton Kelly on ‘What Not To Wear,’ leggings and bad commuter shoes

March 8, 2013

The co-host of ‘What Not to Wear’ took some time out of his busy schedule wrapping up the tenth and final season of the TLC reality show to talk about the program, the evolution of his personal style and his true feelings about commuter shoes.

What question do you remember from your interview for ‘WNTW’?

I remember it very vividly. This casting agent e-mailed me out of the blue asking if I wanted to audition. They basically showed me some videos of women on the street and asked me to comment on them while the camera was pointed at me. And I thought ‘I just blew that,’ but who cares? I had a job.

They asked me back in the next day. I came so close to leaving.

They pulled up a chair and Stacy sat next to me and we were just sort of flipping through magazines criticizing. And we just got along like a house on fire as they say. I had never met her before, but I had known her my whole life.

Do you ever look back at an episode and think you sounded too harsh?

I haven’t watched an episode in about eight years. I know I don’t really have the same approach to it anymore. When we first started the show I didn’t realize what an impact the show would have on the [people we featured]. It was just about making some snarky comments and funny television and giving women some advice on how to dress better.

After doing it for a while, I realized this is not just a makeover show and this is not just comedy either, these are people’s lives we are dealing with. Back then it was 95 percent snark and 5 percent psychology. Now I think it is a little more balanced. I go into it with, I think, 75 percent psychology and 25 percent fashion.

How has your personal style evolved over the course of the show?

I started out wearing funny, funky shirts. They were in style for a while. I was wearing weird prints then I got really dressy and I was wearing suits all the time. Now I have settled into my own sort of look. I always love color and pattern.

I seem to care less about fashion the more the show goes on. It’s not about what I wear anymore I know what my style is, I stick to it and I feel good about it.


Clinton Kelly and Stacy London tell Deb the rules on “What Not to Wear.” (AJ DeAngelo)

I find it much more interesting helping women express themselves through style. I know how to express myself, I got that down. For me its about other people, especially women.

And I’m 44 so there are only so many trends that a 44-year-old guy can do. Men only get like three tends a season anyway. I’ll do some colored jeans.

Speaking of colored jeans, what is your color for spring?

They all say the big color is green this season. I do have two pairs of green jeans, a dark pair and a light pair. That’s it, I’m finished shopping for the whole year.

How is working on ‘The Chew’ different from hosting ‘What Not To Wear’?

It’s really apples and oranges. ‘What Not To Wear’ is exhausting, it’s old-school reality TV because we shoot four days for one hour of TV. Even reality TV doesn’t do that anymore.

On ‘The Chew’ it’s an hour’s worth of work for an hour’s worth of TV and there is an audience in the room so there is a certain energy to that. And of course I’ve been talking about the same stuff from ‘What Not To Wear’ for the past ten years: get a cute blouse, some dark wash jeans, a good jacket. There’s only so many ways you can rearrange those topics.

I feel like dressing people is my job. The stuff I’m doing on ‘The Chew’ is much more in line with what my actual life is like when I’m not on TV. I’m at home and I’m cooking and I’m entertaining and I’m decorating. I don’t spend my free time skipping down the street criticizing people and taking them shopping.


Clinton Kelly, Daphne Oz, Mario Batali, Michael Symon and Carla Hall of ‘The Chew’ (Ida Mae Astute).

Do you have advice for women in Washington who have to commute long distances to work?

I am a big fan of the commuter shoe, it just shouldn’t be a cross-trainer. People don’t even wear those for step class anymore. People don’t even go to step class anymore.

There are so many comfortable shoes out there for women. You could commute in a short wedge, or a short stacked heel or a great flat shoe. Or a boot. Then carry a cute pair of shoes in your bag or keep them in your office.

What’s next for you?

New book in the works, process of being laid out right now, ‘Freaking Fabulous on a Budget.’

It has food, fashion, décor — things you can do on the cheap to make yourself look better, serve better food to your family or guests, live better in a cuter space.

Stacy London and ClintonKelly of "What Not to Wear" on TLC. (George Lange) Stacy London and ClintonKelly of “What Not to Wear” on TLC. (George Lange)

I also have a clothing line for QVC, Kelly by Clinton Kelly.

There might be some dinner plates, salad plates and table tops in the works. There also might be a greeting card line.

Now for the rapid-fire question portion of our interview. Kelly was asked to answer with the first word that popped in his head.

If you have ________ in your closet, you should throw it out now.

Harem pants

Are leggings: 1. Always okay, 2. Never okay, or 3. Can only judge on a case-by-case basis.

Mostly okay if you cover your crotch.

Mixing black and brown is: 1. Always OK, 2. Never okay, or 3. Can only judge on a case-by-case basis.

Mostly OK, it can be incredibly chic if done on purpose

The one article of clothing worth a diet of Ramen and saving for months is ______.

A cashmere overcoat

Pants are clearly too tight if they ______.

Reveal your pulse

Every man should own____________.

Sexy underwear

If you could only wear one label for the rest of your life it would be ________.

Lacoste. I want to be on a beach wearing polos and shorts for the rest of my life.

Related: TLC announces current season of ‘What Not to Wear’ will be its last

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