Think you may have seen an unusually dashing gent near the Grand Spa or Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport yesterday. It was probably Clinton Kelly of TLC’s What Not to Wear. The master of overhauling fashion disasters was in town hosting an interactive seminar, “Motivate Your Man,” before catching a stand-by flight back to NYC for a charity event. (Odd thing is, he's due back in town tomorrow for a 'do at NorthPark Center; more about that below.)
Unfair Park, always quick to celebrate Dallas International Fashion Week, got the chance for a quick Q&A once the fab one had boarded his plane and was “all settled in by the bathroom” pre-take-off. And no, there wasn’t a single bitch about his seat, either. This household name is as down-to-earth as they come. See for yourself after the jump.
So how did “Motivate Your Man” go today?
It went pretty well. I mean, you know, whenever I do anything pertaining to men’s fashion the crowds are so much smaller than the crowds for women’s fashion that it gets to be a little bit discouraging, but it was fun. It’s also in the middle of the afternoon which was sort of a test to see if this kind of thing would actually fly with anyone. So, yeah, it went fine.
From what I understand, the seminar is geared toward women who want to learn how to approach their men to change or take a new avenue in their appearance, how they care for themselves, correct?
Exactly. The idea is that if you’re not happy with your man’s appearance there is something you can do about it -- there’s just a way to speak to men. You just have to sort of know how their brains work. And also, assume a little of the responsibility in helping them dress better. Because what I found is that men really do look to the women in their lives for style guidance. If the woman isn’t happy with the way the man looks, it is incumbent upon her to do something about it.
I’ve watched What Not to Wear and I know you work more often with women, but in the few men that you did work with on the show. Did you find that to be an issue? Like, perhaps, the women in their lives had tried to help?
You know, what I found was that men really respond to different things than women do. They love the details of fashion. Women like the general concept, I find, and men respond to little details. When you tell a man his socks should match his trousers he’ll remember that. When you tell a man that his belt needs to match his shoes he’ll remember that. When you tell him that a half an inch of shirt cuff should stick out from under his jacket sleeve, he’ll remember that. So it’s sort of … men like fact-based fashion tips. When you say, “That doesn’t go together,” that doesn’t do anything for them; they don’t quite get it.
Are you going to do a book, something more accessible than a seminar?
It’s funny that you mention that. I’m doing a book but it’s not necessarily on just men’s fashion -- although it’s going to include that. I’m in contract right now. I sold a book to Simon & Schuster that’ll be out in September of 2008. And that’s called Freakin’ Fabulous, but nothing’s been signed on the dotted line just yet. It’s just a matter of time before that happens. It’s an overall guide to fabulousness. It’s going to include everything from clothes to entertaining to grooming to all sorts of stuff. [For now, make do with this little number.]
What do you find to be the biggest complaint from women about their men? Is it hair, clothing?
I think it’s sloppiness. That’s what I find to be the biggest complaint. You know, men don’t dress up for the women in their lives. And that’s because this country has gone completely out-of-control casual.
We’re very much a cargo shorts country.
Literally. There definitely used to be a time when, you know, guys would dress up and it was cool to do that -- a la Cary Grant -- but then, I guess, the ’70s came around and that sort of changed everything.
The metrosexual thing brought some of that back, but it’s still very much “untucked,” I think.
I think so too. I mean, for the most part, the vast majority of men are not metrosexuals. It’s a small portion of urban men.
I don’t know what cities you’ve been in recently, but in Dallas, there’s a very small percentage of the metrosexuals and a ton of the fratty über-casual look.
I would say that’s pretty much the case throughout the rest of the country. This program, I’ve done Phoenix and Dallas as a test for it, but I’ve been to 38 of the 50 states between What Not to Wear and [tours]. I’ve seen a lot of the country and it’s all really, really casual. It’s a flip-flops and cargo short country, for sure. And for women it’s flip-flops and cropped pants. They’re ubiquitous at this point.
How did you get involved in fashion?
Well I started out as a journalist and I would write about anything that people would pay me to write about. Food, fashion and relationships and travel and exercise, so I just sort of fell into the fashion. Then I ended up getting a job at Marie Claire and then from there I go into Mademoiselle and from there I went to a men’s fashion magazine called DNR. It just sort of happened, so it’s been fun. A casting director just e-mailed me one day saying, “Would you like to audition for What Not to Wear?” and I said, “Sure, why the hell not?” And then … my life hasn’t been the same. That was four and a half years ago.
Do you have men recognize you from the show?
It’s so funny, because I know that men want fashion advice because they ask me on my Web site all the time and they recognize me all the time. I would say just as many men recognize me as women do at this point. Maybe it’s like 60-40 -- 60 percent women. But, I know men are watching and I think the American man is ready to dress it up a little bit. I really do think so.
They just need someone to tell them to do it?
I think so. I have to say that the style icons, you know, there aren’t very many people telling men how to dress.
As far as a celebrity, who would be the person you’d say, “Look at him and mimic that.”
I feel like George Clooney looks good whenever he gets dressed up.
I thought of him … but of course he looks like Cary Grant!
That’s true. [laughs] He’s got reason to dress that well ’cause he’s extra gorgeous.
Who as far as a younger person? Or someone to tell a guy college-age or in his younger 20s?
I can’t even think of who that would be. Honestly, I don’t know. I also don’t really follow celeb culture all that much. It’s just not my thing so I have no idea what’s going on in the world. Now that I’m 38 I don’t really pay attention to what’s happening with the 20-year-olds! Can’t be bothered. Too old for that!
Kelly will be back in town Thursday for a fashion show at Macy’s NorthPark Center. Call 1-866-226-0449 to RSVP for the 6 p.m. show. And, guys, Friday's the start of Dallas International Fashion Week. Fashion Week! Dress to impress, for cryin’ out loud. --Merritt Martin
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