Clinton Kelly

For some people, shopping for clothes is a breeze: They’re the types who walk in the store, and everything not only fits, but looks good, as well. For the rest of us, finding flattering clothes requires some of effort. So we caught up with Clinton Kelly, co-host of TLC’s What Not to Wear, as he prepared to visit St. Louis for the Working Women’s Survival Show. The event runs through Feb. 27 at the St. Charles Convention Center.

LN: Tell us about your new book, Oh No She Didn’t.

CK: It goes through the top 100 style mistakes and how to avoid them. It’s just a fun way for women to get advice on how to change some fashion faux pas.

LN: What are some of the biggies?

CK: When clothes are too tight, it makes you look bigger. When your shirt is too tight, people think you’ve put on 10 pounds and haven’t realized it because you’re wearing the same blouse. Another thing is shoulders that are too big, because they slouch down and it makes you look hunched over. You almost look depressed. And I could talk about bad fit in the crotch all day long. Whether it’s too tight or too long, it’s essential that you get the crotch of the pants to fit you properly.

LN: Do most women need to get their clothes tailored to get the right fit?

CK: It’s completely unrealistic for anyone to assume that she’s going to find clothes that fit her off the rack every time. It does happen, and when it does, you should throw your hands up in the air and celebrate. Clothes are designed on a size six hourglass dress form, and most women aren’t built like that. What you can do is find clothes that fit pretty darn well and have them altered. It’s better to have a closet of 20 pieces that fit you perfectly than to have 100 pieces that fit you OK.

LN: What are some of the most frequent challenges that women face when they’re shopping for clothes?

CK: Fit is probably the biggest challenge, but another mistake is buying clothes without really thinking about how they’re going to be used in your life. Mindless shopping drives me crazy. There are a lot of women who shop as sport or shop as therapy. They think If I buy this blouse, it’s going to make me feel better. But it’s not going to make you feel better if that blouse sits in your closet for the next six months because you don’t have anything to wear it with. Shop with purpose, go in with a clear idea of what you need, not because you’re looking to kill some time.

LN: Do you think women let their self-esteem be defined by their clothes?

CK: People’s self esteem is affected by their clothes, and the clothes they wear are affected by self-esteem. If you don’t feel good about your body, you throw something big on to cover it up, and that doesn’t make you feel better about your body. So it’s easy to get stuck in a downward spiral. You also start to forget about how things are supposed to fit. If you wear clothes that fit, you are reminded about your body daily. When you put on 5 pounds you notice, because your clothes are fitting tighter than they used to, and you go to the gym and try to get back down to that weight. If you’re wearing sweats, you don’t notice right away and then you put on 20 pounds, and it’s a lot harder to lose 20 pounds than 5 pounds.

LN: Is there a current trend you would say is not flattering on most people? 

CK: The mid-length skirt is coming back, sort of a mid-calf length that is an incredibly difficult length for most women. It can be frumpy and make your legs look shorter. It works on really tall women because they have the length so you still get an idea of how long their legs are. But if you’re 5 feet tall and wearing that skirt, forget about it.

LN: What trends are you excited about for this spring?

CK: I’m not really a trend guy. I’m much more interested in helping women find themselves through their style and taking the things that are offered by the designers and putting their own spin on them. I don’t care if high-waisted flair leg jeans are in or skinny jeans; I’m interested in putting those things on women and helping them feel great and project the image that they want to project to the world. LN