TLC’s “What Not To Wear” Style Guru, Clinton Kelly

TLC’s “What Not To Wear” Style Guru, Clinton Kelly

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Cincy Chic: Have you always been fashion-conscious? Who was/is your biggest style or fashion inspiration?

Clinton Kelly: I haven’t always been fashion-conscious — not by a long shot. But I have pretty much always been style-conscious. The difference between the two? Well, I was never obsessed with Halston or Mackie, but I did always want to look well put together.

For my style today, I try to combine the looks of Cary Grant, Clint Eastwood and Gene Rayburn of “The Match Game.”


Cincy Chic: It’s the age-old question: is someone born with a sense of style, or can it be acquired?

Kelly: I think you do need to be born with at least a little bit of artistic ability. Style is about 70 percent art and 30 percent science. If that artistic component is missing completely, you may be a little screwed. But I’ll bet your tax returns are flawless.


Cincy Chic: You have done 240 episodes of “What Not to Wear.” What’s your most memorable experience/guest?

 Kelly: The one that always stands out for me is Joy, the young woman who pinned a raccoon tail to the back of her 0208GIBBERMAN.gifpants and skirts. She drove me crazy. She kept saying, “But I love my tail…I love my tail.” The editors had to bleep me four times that episode. I was so exasperated that a string of four-letter words just flew out of my mouth. And I don’t even curse that much.


Cincy Chic: Since we call ourselves “Cincy Chic,” we would like to know what your definition of “chic” is.

Kelly: Chic is a cosmopolitan, classic, polished look that appears effortless.


Cincy Chic: If you were stranded on a deserted island, which must-have items would you have when the rescue boats came for you?

Kelly: Does the deserted island get chilly at night? Because I’d like to curl up by the fire in some pajama bottoms and a cashmere sweater. I’d also need my Company CD. It’s a musical by Stephen Sondheim that I am absolutely addicted to. A big vat of gin and a case of tonic would also be nice.


Cincy Chic: You woke one morning and had an a-ha moment: “Damn, Clinton, you are fabulous!” What drew you to that conclusion?!

Kelly: Isn’t it obvious? I have a fantastic career, a great education, a closet full of gorgeous clothes, a beautiful home, and most importantly — I’m blessed with the most amazing group of family and friends that ever walked the face of the earth. And I’ve worked really hard at acquiring all of it.


Cincy Chic: In your new book, Freakin’ Fabulous, you provide a how-to guide for others to fine tune their FQ (Fabulous Quotient) factor. What is the most important advice, from the book, that one should take away with them?

Kelly: You should be sure to read the conclusion, in which I try to explain that being fabulous is more about how you treat others every minute of every day than it is about stuff.0708DEGROOT_FASHION.gif


Cincy Chic: For the past three years, you have teamed up with Macy’s and conducted numerous style seminars. Why did you decide to invest your time and efforts in these?

Kelly: These Macy’s shows are a hoot. There’s nothing like giving style advice in front of a live audience of hundreds of people. It keeps me on my toes. I also make a point to use models with real bodies and show styles that are applicable to the modern woman’s life. The feedback I’ve received from the Macy’s customer has been incredible.


 Cincy Chic: We love you here in Cincinnati and are excited for your Nov. 13 visit! Your seminar will focus on women’s plus sizes. What else do you have planned for the Cincinnati ladies?

Kelly: The last time I was in Cincinnati for a Macy’s event something like 1,300 people showed up. It was the only time I was every overwhelmed by an audience. I was actually a little freaked out, so I asked the audience to sing the WKRP theme song with me. They did and it was the best ice-breaker you could imagine. I will never forget it as long as I live. I don’t think I’ll do that this time. However, I will explain the secrets of “What Not to Wear,” do a fashion show, a few critiques of willing audience members and answers as many questions as time allows.


Cincy Chic: You’ve held numerous contests, where people get a once-in-a-lifetime shopping spree with you at the Macy’s in Herald Square in NYC! What really happens on one of these?

Kelly: It’s an exhausting experience for everyone involved! I will have the winner try on every article of clothing in the store until we find a wardrobe that works and flatters her body.1108SENSIBLE.gif


Cincy Chic: What’s been your most memorable experience on tour? How do you maintain your FQ while traveling?

Kelly: I met a woman named Vicki in Florida — she won the shopping spree contest- and she and I really hit it off. We’re still friends to this day. She would only wear oversized clothes until I showed her how important structured pieces are. Now, she looks amazing — even when I’m not around.

And I do maintain my FQ while traveling, though it is very difficult to do so while going through security – no shoes, no belt, no jacket, take out your toiletries, take out your laptop. It’s pretty degrading. However, I was going through security recently and a woman told me, “Wow, even your socks are perfect.”


Cincy Chic: Have you ever done a FQ faux-paus? How did you recover gracefully?

Kelly: I honestly can’t recall one. Maybe I blocked it out. I’m really great at forgetting my flaws.


Cincy Chic: How do you spend your free time?

Kelly: I don’t have much of it these days, but nothing makes me happier than gathering my friends and serving them a delicious meal, something that cooked on the stove all day, and a nice bottle of wine.


Cincy Chic: What is your favorite thing about Cincinnati?

Kelly: The people are pretty awesome. And they like to sing with me, which is always a huge plus in my book.



Photos: Courtesy of Clinton Kelly