For an astounding 10 seasons, the reality show What Not to Wear took the fashion-challenged and turned them into those who were confident walking into a clothing store and picking out exactly what works for them. The show was hosted by Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, both stylists and fashion consultants who’ve worked in the industry for decades. For the first season, London’s co-host was Wayne Scot Lukas, and early episodes featured men and women, but since the men’s transformations were unremarkable, the show stuck strictly to women.
Based on the U.K. version of the same name, What Not to Wear was bound to have some secrets and scandals in its 10-year run. And the obvious question you might have, “Is this show scripted?” is weak when compared to some of the secrets to come from the show. Many surprises are about how episodes are made and what the participants endure while the show is filming.
While some secrets on this list are dark, others will cause you to rethink the show, the hosts, and its whole existence. Perhaps you’ll wonder if other reality makeover type shows work in the same way.
Here are 15 Dark Secrets From What Not To Wear You Had No Idea About.
15. Stacy vs Clinton Feud
In mid-November, Clinton Kelly informed fans that he had been blocked on Twitter by his former co-host from What Not to Wear. His Tweet simply said, “Alllll righty then” and included a screenshot of his lack of access to Stacy London’s posts. Immediately, supporters of Kelly and the TLC channel poured in, most insisting on an explanation. Kelly stated, “The tea is old. And I never spill tea unless I’m shook, which I’m not.”
It has been speculated the sudden conflict stems from Kelly’s memoir I Hate Everyone, Except You, released in January 2017. He wrote, “I either adored her or despised her and never anything in between. We spent sixty hours a week in captivity. Trust me when I tell you that that is just too much time to spend with any other human being you didn’t choose of your own free will.”
14. Deeper Psychological Issues
Sometimes money, indifference to fashion, or pure ignorance about finding the right clothes for a body type are excellent reasons why someone might dress poorly. But psychological conditions can play a major role in choosing clothing that doesn’t look great, but that helps comfort the psychological problem. One such issue is called body dysmorphia, when a person becomes concerned about one or more parts of the body that they perceive as abnormal.
One contestant with the condition dressed in oversized clothing because she was displeased with the way she looked. She found that being forced to see her body on camera was difficult, as was seeing herself in the famous 360-degree mirror the show uses. The participant discovered the show was meant to break you down, then build you up, and stated it made a “huge difference in the way I look and the way I feel about myself.”
13. Clint and Stacy were Barely Around
Quite a few of the participants have stated that Clinton and London were barely around for the shooting process. Most episodes took two days to film, but the hosts usually appeared at the end of the taping when it was time for the participant to try on the new clothes for them.
“There’s very little off-camera interaction,” said one participant. However, on the off-chance the hosts did make an appearance sooner, many contestants have said they were “generally kind and supportive.” One reason for the absence during most of the taping is to garner genuine and real reactions.
12. $5000 Doesn’t Go Very Far
It’s true the contestants get $5000 to spend in clothing stores, but it’s not cash; the amount is put on a gift card. Also, the gift card is mostly for show – the participant never really used the card to buy the clothing. An assistant used corporate credit cards to actually pay. Regardless, you’d think $5000 would be sufficient, but many participants have said it goes fast, especially in New York.
Services are an expenditure that must come from the total amount, and that isn’t obvious when watching the show. One participant said, “Literally EVERYTHING you buy is later tailored to you.” That is paid from the $5000 and takes a big chunk from it. Also, any makeover service like hair and makeup is also taken from the $5000.
11. Clinton Kelly Doesn’t Speak To One Contestant
Clinton Kelly still talks with former guests. “I keep in touch with about 100 of them, believe it or not,” he has said. Social media has made it easier to do so, especially Twitter and Facebook. He also occasionally texts some of the participants.
But there is one contestant whom he has not said a word to since the episode she and he were in aired. Kelly and the participant named Megumi got into a verbal fight. She made a personal attack on the host. “[Megumi] told me I needed Botox and I just went off on her,” he said, adding, “I was like, ‘Don’t you tell me I need Botox… this isn’t about me!”
10. Contestants Must Pay Taxes on their $5000
One of the little known dark secrets involves the $5000 guests receive to spend on clothing. While guests are told they can keep whatever is left, the producer, Michael Klein once said, “I think the most anyone has ever left is $29.37.”
Participants must pay taxes on the $5000, and if they spent all or most of it or went over the amount (using their own money for the difference), they would need to pay taxes out of their own pocket. A former contestant said on Reddit, “One of the producers told me the first day to NOT spend all $5000 and set aside some of the money for taxes.” Because of the type of windfall the $5000 is, taxes for some went up to $2000!
9. Clothes Were Donated Without Participants’ Permission
Before the participants go through the whole process of shopping and reaching the final reveal, they must endure show employees going through their current wardrobe to get rid of old clothes. The participants know this is all part of it, but they weren’t allowed to be there when the assistants rummaged through closets.
The clothes are known to be donated, but there is no input from the contestant. What is selected to get donated goes, and there’s nothing that can be done. Some clothes are even thrown completely away if they are too worn or used.
Well, until the show is over. At that time, participants could go through the bags of clothing and take back anything they want to keep. Occasionally, sentimental pieces of clothing were returned, but most of the time, nothing was kept.
8. Producers and Hosts Inattentive to Needs and Concerns
Some complaints of many participants were that the producers and hosts didn’t listen to the needs and concerns of who they were putting through the ringer. Addie Broyles got nominated by her fiancé and revealed that she didn’t think the hosts get “the Austin style and how dressed-down mothers need to be when chasing after young children.”
But one celebrity who went on What Not to Wear, Mayim Bialik, stated she loved being on the show, but informed the producers she calls herself a “Conservadox Jew.” That meant she adheres to some clothing restrictions for religious modesty. She was filmed telling the hosts about the short skirts and sleeveless shirts and dresses, but that footage was cut. So, when the episode aired, she ended up looking like she was a whiner and not appreciative of the experience.
7. Contestants Are Filmed For “Secret Footage”
It’s not a big secret that modern reality shows are somewhat scripted and that scenes are guided by directors and producers, who tell the people appearing in the show what type of drama they want and suggest a few things that will help instigate “the good stuff.” What Not to Wear instructed participants, in the early days of one’s filming, to do certain things out of the blue.
Mostly, this involved the participant to say lines or phrases even if they wouldn’t have said something like it in real life. This was supposed to be for “secret” footage they obtained for two weeks while the contestant would go about their normal day, but most knew the reason they were told what to do. So, when the footage was shown for the episode, it was no surprise to anyone.
6. One Episode Almost Didn’t Make It To Air
In nine seasons, What Not to Wear had never shown a behind-the-scenes episode. For the most part, participants were willing and enthusiastic and pleasant to work with. But in the tenth season, one subject proved so challenging to Clinton Kelly and Stacey London that most of the footage wasn’t particularly apt to air.
The participant loved to dress only in camouflage and was very reluctant to get rid of her all-camo clothing. During the show, when she went on the shopping spree, she didn’t shop at women’s fashion stores. In the episode, more focus went into showing what producers say, how the show is shot, and general insight to how an episode is made, probably to salvage what they could since it the actual episode wasn’t a good watch.
5. Long Shooting (And Reshooting) days
Like most reality shows, What Not to Wear had long filming days. Most episodes took 2 days of filming and a few more days of editing and reshooting, so total time on the episodes you see aired ran about one week. Many participants found the experience consumed a lot of their energy and time.
The film crew had to remain extremely detailed-oriented, and if you weren’t privy to their tasks, nothing made sense about what they were doing. Another time-consuming factor was reshooting. Participants and hosts were often asked to say or do something multiple times so the camera and sound crew could get the perfect shot. This especially made for long days as the show recorded hours and hours of footage to chop down in the 45-minute episode viewers see.
4. Off-the-rack Clothes Were Tailored
When participants shop for clothes with their $5000, they adhere to certain rules given to them by Stacy and Clinton. However, many of the clothes chosen in stores don’t fit exactly right. It’s not known if the contestants are told not to worry about size, only following the style rules for however the hosts felt they should dress.
The clothes purchased are right from the racks of real stores, but most of the clothes are tailored to fit the participant before the final reveal. At that point, the clothing fits perfectly. Any trimming and sewing is done wbehind the scenes, meaning it’s a little-known secret of What Not to Wear. After all, if it was that easy to find the perfect fit, the participant wouldn’t need to go on the show!
3. Participants get shopping “help” from a personal shopper
The biggest dark secret from What Not to Wear you may have had no idea about entails the contestant’s shopping process. Stacey London and Clinton Kelly are the fashion advisors of the show, and while they do a great job during the judging and final reveal, they are not present when the participant is released to go shopping for new clothes. A personal shopper is actually the one who selects clothes and decides what looks good on them.
“I learned more from her than anybody else,” said Casey, a former contestant. Another participant said, “I learned more about clothes from power-shopper Jess, my stylist, than London and Kelly combined.” It’s important for many participants to get the help they need to find flattering clothes, no matter who it was from the show that provided it.
2. Participants Put Up In Hotel During Some Filming
While the format of What Not to Wear followed a pretty static formula – participant gets nominated by family member or friend, gets a gift card to buy new clothing, gets judged on choices at the end – some of the behind-the-scenes portions not involving the participant was never shown.
For example, the chosen person for the show is there for the shopping and final judgement segments. As you know, the show also raids the participant’s closet at home, ridding their wardrobe of the drab and boring. They don’t want the participant there as an obstacle as many hold on to old clothes for nostalgic or emotional reasons. So, during moments like those, the subject is placed in a fancy hotel for the duration of filming those scenes.
1. The show’s impact on participants
Many participants came through What Not to Wear, took Kelly’s and London’s criticism, and came out of the final reveal a better person. You can see on many contestants’ faces the positive change the show had. But for some, the show had a more profound effect than what was aired. Especially after the show.
Participants have met their husbands after their transformations, sometimes soon after the show aired. One woman told Clinton she gained so much confidence that she went home and dumped the guy she was dating because he treated her “like crap.” London nailed the epitome of the show in regard to participant’s self-assurance: “the cliché ‘seeing is believing’ really was the foundation of the show… a change in perspective, a turn to lean in towards optimism.”
Which What Not to Wear secret surprised or shocked you? Let us know in the comments!
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