TLC’s What Not to Wear was such a hit because fans knew there just wasn’t anything more "feel good" than watching people become their best, most confident selves. Except for puppy videos, that is, but it’s a close second. The reality show depicted two fashion stylists, Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, as they gave men and women personalized style tips, a fashion overhaul worth $5,000, haircuts, and a serious confidence boost that all added up to a truly transforming makeover.
After premiering in 2003, What Not to Wear performed more than 325 makeovers, according to People. Generally, each episode focused on one fashion-confused individual who was secretly nominated by friends, coworkers, or family to appear on the show and, usually after a visit to the dreaded 360-degree mirror, was convinced that the makeover was absolutely necessary. "If there’s one thing I wish people would take away from the show, it’s that you don’t have to be rich to look fabulous," Clinton Kelly told People. "When you dress with quiet sophistication and participate in the appropriate trends for your age and body type, you exude confidence and class." And that’s exactly what Kelly and London taught the people that make up this list of the most stunning What Not to Wear transformations.
What Not to Wear’s Megan ditched her toe socks
When Megan first came on screen in Season 2 of What Not to Wear, she was rocking painfully ill-fitting jeans, a ratty old tee shirt, and her stringy hair was covering half her face. Stacy London and Clinton Kelly were shocked, and they set out to make the 20-year-old musician look more her age without losing her signature effortless style. "I think I was born this way," Megan said of her questionable toe socks and cartoon-based tee shirts. "What a cute little 12-year-old!" London and Kelly retorted to seeing one particular outfit, attempting to make the young woman see that she needed a bit more sophistication in her life.
"We had to teach her how to walk in heels," London told Entertainment Weekly in a special interview. "She almost fell down in the store the first time we put her in heels. She was like this little foal." A little foal that blossomed into a chic woman. Megan’s transformation was all about adding feminine touches and rich colors to age-appropriate clothing like blazers and properly fitting trousers. How did Megan like her new look? "I’m gonna continue to do my thing," she said in the episode, "but I’m going to do it with more confidence."
Casey seriously upgraded her style
Casey, a firefighter and transgender woman from Philadelphia, was on Season 11 of What Not to Wear, as noted by Philadelphia magazine. Casey’s sister and friend nominated her for the show because, even though she’d been living as her true self for nine years at the time, she was still struggling to figure out a feminine style without any help from the ladies in her life. As Stacy London said in the episode, their goal was to "teach Casey the foundations of feminine style" and "find a look that suits her shape and her personality."
And they succeeded! Casey’s final transformation was nothing short of stunning. The newly minted redhead looked amazing in a-line skirts that defined her waistline, flattering trousers and jackets paired with floaty fabrics, and even some sexy heels. But like many other women on the show, Casey’s favorite part of her transformation was how much more confident she became. She told Philadelphia magazine, "Being on that show has [made me] less worried about being perceived for what I’m not and more open to being perceived for what I am. It’s gotten me to a point to where I’m not self-conscious."
Belinda ended up looking "like Madonna" after her What Not to Wear transformation
Belinda was a beauty queen back when she was in high school, but she let herself go over the years to focus on her kids, her job as a part-time nurse, and her pets. "I sort of put myself on hold," she told TLC in her Season 2 episode of What Not to Wear. Belinda’s daughter Julia nominated her for the show to help get rid of the animal prints, ill-fitting and dated pieces, and her waist-long, horse-tail hair. "She just wears t-shirts, and jeans, and a sweatshirt day after day …it’s very boring and I’d like to see her sexy again!" her husband Roger said in the episode.
Clinton Kelly and Stacy London were able to bring Belinda back from the brink of fashion death. "Belinda was the first makeover that really blew my mind," Kelly told Entertainment Weekly. "When she walked out in that tweed jacket and jeans with her sassy haircut, I yelled, ‘You look like Madonna!’ I don’t know how much she looked like Madonna, but she was certainly giving off a confident kind of sex appeal.” The busy mom transformed her look to be more flattering, modern, and, of course, sexy.
Beryl got to keep her pink hair on What Not to Wear
Season 9 of What Not to Wear featured Beryl, a young illustrator from New York who was seriously struggling with her style. "It’s as if she’s crying out for our help — and a good tailor," Clinton Kelly quipped in the episode. Maybe Beryl’s colorless, ill-fitting, and downright drab wardrobe was a cry for help. Her faded, root-heavy pink hair certainly seemed to be. The artist’s "anti-effort look" was leftover from her insecure teenage years. "If I’m drawing attention to myself, then I’m opening myself up to judgement," Beryl revealed.
But after Stacy London and Clinton Kelly got their hands on her, Beryl’s look went from drab to fab. Her makeover was all about adding color, interest, texture, and personality to her clothing so she could have the confidence necessary to show herself off. How did Beryl like her transformation? "It’s out of the world. It’s better than I could have even imagined … I’m loving it," she said. And don’t worry — she got to keep her pink hair. It just got a little TLC from TLC.
With What Not to Wear’s help, Maria said goodbye to head-to-toe color
Maria, a busy mom of a big family, really made an impression on Stacy London and Clinton Kelly on her Season 3 episode of What Not to Wear. ”She would dress head-to-toe in one color, like lime green," London revealed to Entertainment Weekly. "She really thought she was getting it right, and she could not have been any cuter." But as cute as she was, Maria was also dedicated to her outdated fits, loud patterns, and bright colors, telling the cameras, "I think my clothes say I’m a cheerful, happy person."
As Kelly said in the episode, the WNTW team set out to "show her how to do colors in the right way." And they did! Maria learned how to show off her personal style in a chic way, and she left the show rocking a trendy new pixie cut, flattering jackets, and hints of her signature bright colors. Plus, she’s stuck with her new look. As London told Entertainment Weekly, "She is one of those people who just grabbed on to the rules and did not let go ever. Ever. Every time we’ve seen her since, her style is unbelievable.”
Sunny flew away from her fairy wings
Sunny, an aspiring actress from L.A., was on Season 6 of What Not to Wear because of her penchant for wearing fairy wings in public. On normal, non-Halloween days. "My style is very girly … I’m obsessed with fairies, and glitter, and pink," the happy young woman said on the show. Despite how happy she seemed in her fantasy-based clothing, Sunny’s friends nominated her to bring her style out of the fairy forest and into the real world.
"Sunny thought she had to wear fairy wings to get attention," Clinton Kelly told Entertainment Weekly. "After a week with us, she realized that she possessed the kind of natural beauty that some women only dream of. All we did was enhance that." Stacy London and Clinton Kelly brought out Sunny’s beauty with a new modern haircut, a quick makeup lesson on shimmer (not glitter) eyeshadow, and feminine-yet-sophisticated clothing. Kelly expressed his delight in their success to Entertainment Weekly, saying, "When I first saw her at her reveal, I thought, ‘She’s breathtaking. She looks like a young Natalie Wood!”’
Melissa realized looking feminine isn’t a bad thing after her What Not to Wear makeover
Before appearing on Season 2 of What Not to Wear, police officer Melissa liked to wear baggy jeans and oversized sweatshirts that she purchased from the men’s department. "Melissa just doesn’t realize that she’s a girl, and that she should dress like one," her friend Barbara said in the episode. Beyond denying her femininity, the young police officer also needed to upgrade the professionalism of her style so she could follow her dreams of advancing in the police force. Enter: Stacy London and Clinton Kelly.
Though there were a couple of speed bumps along the way — like Melissa refusing to throw away her baggy sweatshirts — the self-titled skater girl let go of her old look and embraced a new one. She found a balance between feminine and masculine, and discovered the place where her androgynous style can still be lovely and refined with size-appropriate fits, a fresh new hairdo, and hints of girly colors. "I love the hair!" Melissa cheered near the end of her episode. "I am feeling beautiful and very sexy."
Leanne the Witch experienced a "transformation of her style"
Leanne, a professional psychic and self-described witch from Salem, was in desperate need of some style magic before she went on What Not to Wear. "I only felt good in long robes and extreme goth clothes, or when I was at home, I’d be in pajamas. I had no in-between clothes," she revealed to Wicked Local. Melissa was committed to her witchy look, running errands, attending business events, and even going to PTA meetings dressed in goth gear or Halloween-inspired outfits.
Stacy London told Entertainment Weekly, "I found her style so stereotypical of what a witch might look like, but [we discovered that] underneath she was this beautiful, modern, contemporary woman waiting to come out." The team helped Melissa discover that she didn’t have to completely get rid of her witchy garb. Rather, she just had to add to it with clothing that was appropriate for everyday wear. "It hasn’t changed my style, it’s been a transformation of my style," she told Wicked Local of her experience on the show, noting, "They really helped me overcome a lot of emotional roadblocks I had with my clothes."
London herself joked to Entertainment Weekly, "I was like, ‘We’re kind of magic!’"
Becca became "100% woman" with one What Not to Wear transformation
Becca was in her final year as a medical student when What Not to Wear diagnosed and treated her dying fashion sense. She appeared on the show because she was in desperate need of a professional, put-together look so she could snag a good job upon graduation. The student was prone to wearing baggy jeans and childish, ill-fitting tops and seemed to forget that hair should be brushed.
To make matters worse, Becca did not enjoy the process, at one point saying, "I don’t f*****g care. … You’re not going to want to be my friend because I’m wearing a tank top and jeans everyday?!" But Stacy London and Clinton Kelly argued with her logic, attempting to set her straight by saying that her mindset was "juvenile" and that it "screamed defense mechanism." They succeeded. The two stylists gushed about Becca’s transformation, showering her with praises and saying, "You’re a grownup." They also called her look "sophisticated-casual," and exclaimed, "There’s a doctor in the house."
Mayim Bialik went from frumpy to sophisticated
Fans know Mayim Bialik best as the quirky, nerdy, and charming Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory. But what many people don’t know is that long before the actress brought the style-challenged Amy to life, she was living her own fashion nightmare with frumpy, unflattering, and downright drab clothing. Then she went on What Not to Wear. As reported by People, Bialik, one of two big celebs you forgot had makeovers on What Not to Wear, wasn’t offended when Stacy London and Clinton Kelly surprised her on a New York City street. "It’s no secret that my sense of style has taken a backseat to the rest of my life, so I wasn’t terribly shocked," Bialik revealed. "And I do have quirky taste. … I like army boots, I like peasant skirts — sometimes together!"
London, Kelly, and the WNTW team did some serious overhauling to get to Bialik’s big reveal, but it was all worth it. "They taught me about what to emphasize about my body, they gave me some easy ways to look good when I’m just hanging out," the actress told People. As Kelly said in the episode, Mayim Bialik certainly did find out how "quirky can be sophisticated."
What Not to Wear helped Tristen learn how to turn heads… in a good way
Tristen’s Season 10 What Not to Wear transformation was not an easy makeover. ”That was a hard one," Stacy London told Entertainment Weekly. "It was the first time we’ve worked with somebody who actually aspired to be a reality star. We’d never had somebody who…[wanted] to look like she was on Jersey Shore." With her colorful nails, teeny tiny dresses, big hair, and even bigger personality, Tristen really did seem straight out of a reality show. And the label-obsessed diva put up a fight every step of the way, swearing and yelling at the idea of letting go of her signature style.
But, despite the copious amounts of drama, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly were able to transform Tristen into a refined, elegant, and still head-turning lady. And she got to keep her sex appeal, just in a different way. "Alright fine, you guys were right," Tristen admitted to London and Kelly at the end of her episode with a big smile on her face. They certainly were.
Amanda had the "single most amazing experience of her life" on What Not to Wear
Amanda, a mommy-blogger with a penchant for sweatpants, needed some serious style help. What Not to Wear was up to the challenge. But this particular makeover, though it did involve new clothes and hair, was more about making over Amanda’s self-esteem. "The only time I waste time thinking about myself is when I’m thinking about what I need to do differently," she revealed on her episode. She went on to say that she’d never thought of herself as beautiful. Heartbreaking as that statement was, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly were able to turn things around and reveal the gorgeous woman that was always there.
What Not to Wear showed Amanda how to own her body, rock properly fitting clothes, and be her best self every single day. And she’s kept it up! As seen on her YouTube vlog, Amanda still wears makeup everyday, has the same lovely hair color, and follows the style rules London and Kelly taught her. In fact, she refers to her time on WNTW as "the single most amazing experience [she’s] had outside of birthing children."
Denise let her goofiness shine
Unlike many What Not to Wear stars that need some help elevating their clothing and makeup, Denise needed help toning things way, way, way down. The flight attendant was on Season 8 of the hit show because her wardrobe was full of glittery, skimpy outfits and her face was covered in super heavy makeup. "It seems that you’ve developed this character, that you’re playing this role of Denise," Clinton Kelly remarked in the episode. Stacy London agreed, and she took things further by saying that Denise looked like "a bubble-headed bimbo." Yikes.
The What Not to Wear team’s goal was to help Denise hold onto her sparkle and goofiness while balancing it with sophistication, grace, and a little less glitter. And, like always, they did a wonderful job. London and Kelly guided the flight attendant to a more subtle sparkle that allowed her natural beauty to shine. Denise said of her experience, "This process was amazing. I wouldn’t take it back for anything."
After her What Not to Wear makeover, Michelle could have been a model
Michelle was just an average dog trainer before she appeared in Season 4 of What Not to Wear. Well, maybe not average, as her style left much to be desired. The young lady dressed like a grandma with loud, printed long skirts, oversized tops, and a long, tangled mop of hair that was rarely combed. Her excuse? "Dogs shows are not like fashion shows," Michelle said in her episode. "You want the eye to go to the dog and not the handler." But Michelle’s coworkers were tired of seeing her try to be invisible, so they called in reinforcements.
As Clinton Kelly told Entertainment Weekly, "From the first second I met her, I knew she had great potential and I was certainly not disappointed by her final reveal." Her transformation was ultimately so amazing that some people thought she was a model that was pretending to be unfashionable just so the show could look good. Though she wasn’t a model before, she certainly could have been after What Not to Wear was done with her! Even Kelly himself remarked, "She probably could have walked out of the studio and booked a few modeling gigs."