Thursday, February 21, 2013

CorpGoth Style on WNTW

If you're familiar with the U.S. TV show "What Not to Wear" (not to be confused with the short-lived U.K. version), you've seen the makeovers of frumpy ladies into fashionable women wearing more modern wardrobes. The gist is often that the makeover targets tend to put themselves last in their lives or are generally dissatisfied with their bodies, & all of this leads them to avoid shopping for & wearing clothes that fit, flatter, & show off their features & create a cohesive sense of self & style.

As reality TV goes, the show is actually rather positive & personally affirming. It has a formula, but there isn't the hugely exploitative feeling that so much of that edu-tainment has.

Yes, I've watched quite a bit of this series, particularly since it has thrived where the U.K. version floundered. WNTW-U.S. had a rocky start, but it persevered until the hosts gelled & the self-improvement themes emerged over the catty, bitchy tone of the U.K. version (sure, it was fun, but that didn't translate, & I suspect that's why it didn't last more than a few seasons either).

Most interestingly to me, there have been several episodes over the 10-year course of WNTW where the makeover candidates began with an alternative fashion sense, albeit always stunted/misshapen & being used to hide self-perceived flaws instead of express inner beauty. In these episodes, the hosts didn't make over the women to look boring & mainstream, but they encouraged the women to create more sophisticated (often more mature & less teen-ager-y), strongly defined styles that took advantage of modern trends to flatter the individual's features & personality.

image from
I stumbled across an excellent example of this just the other day in this season of WNTW -- the makeover target was Heather, a 26-year-old woman who manages a "youth retail store" that I easily identified as Hot Topic in the clips.

She's worked there since high school & tends to buy a lot of what she wears there, but mostly jewelry & big, ill-fitting T-shirts with animal cartoons printed on them. Her wardrobe consists of said shirts, leggings, & the occasional shapeless black dress. As a plus-size gal, she's uncomfortable with her body & doesn't want to try on clothes to fit.

By the end of the episode, she not only has a fantastic CorpGoth wardrobe all in black, jewel tones, & graphic black/white prints, they even dyed her dirty blonde hair to jet black & gave her a sharp bob! She looks fab & is wearing clothes that fit & show off her curves in an attractive fashion for work or play.

This episode is proof that neither alternative style nor size are excuses for a person to not have great wardrobes that will get them taken seriously at a job while letting them have fun & express themselves.

Check out the video clips online & watch for the full episode in repeats on TLC!


  1. The linked video only shows the before, but with a bit of poking around, I discovered this before and after gallery.

    I was glad to see that her "after" wardrobe still has personality, as you said.

  2. I used to watch this show all the time until I realized they just put people in the same wrap top/shirt and blazer. It's nice they varied up the style a bit in this episode! haha and I'm always afraid that one day someone in my office is going to sign me up for this show.

  3. The more polished clothes were a nice change. The hair cut was great. She looked better with blonde hair though. I'm also a natural blonde, and I've been down the black hair dye road. It's a hassle having to maintain it when you have blonde roots growing in every two weeks-and that much dye just isn't healthy for your scalp or body. It's too bad they didn't leave the color alone or at least giver her some platinum chunky highlights or something that would be easier for her to keep looking good.

  4. I'm a big fan of the show and I think you may want to give it another chance. I do agree that in the earlier seasons all the "Afters" tended to look very similar, but this season has been a real joy with C & S keeping more of the personality in thought with their suggestions.

  5. What not to Wear is one of my favourite shows. When I was transitioning between the 18-21 type of stage to being older and having a professional job, I had to learn to dress professionally (instead of in your face goth) and I had also gained some weight. This show taught me that you can dress in a flattering manner no matter what you weigh or what type of body you have and that you can incorporate a bit of alternative/edgy flair into your professional wardrobe while still looking like a functional adult! Thank you WNTW!!!