Macy's & Clinton Kelly Make Over America in Chicago!

Clinton Kelly at Macys & Clinton Kelly Makeover America, photo by Steve Starr

"American women are afraid of color," Clinton Kelly, stylist and co-host of TLC's What Not To Wear, told a large room of excited fans on Saturday, October 10, during the Macy's & Clinton Kelly Make Over America event at the State Street Macy's in Chicago. During the event, which showcased the results of Clinton's makeovers of 15 Chicagoland women, he set out to prove those who fear color wrong. 


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He began the event asking for volunteers for an impromptu 360 degree consultation, as he and Stacy London do on What Not To Wear. Among many women dressed in outfits "too cute!" to be picked, his first volunteer had a few fashion faux pas. First off, she was wearing the dreaded workout shirt. Clinton was mightily unhappy with that, almost as unhappy as when he pointed out her ill-fitting jeans, and not nearly as horrified as when he discovered her velcro Mary-Janes. With humor and compassion, he explained what she could do to create a better outfit. The moral of this 360? "Shoes set the tone for an outfit," so they should never be boring. 

His next volunteer had issues with "mom" jeans and a ribbed sweater. His advice? Go for a jean with a darker wash, make certain that it fits, tailor it if necessary and have fun. He also counseled against wearing ribbed tops, as they create unflattering shapes. Finally, he reminded every woman that the bust should rest between the shoulder and the elbow, and urged the crowd to get a professional bra-fitting. This volunteer was so excited about the advice he gave her that she went out and got a new outfit:

Volunteer Kathy

Then, it was time for the makeovers to be revealed. Clinton explained that steps he had taken to transform the women the previous day included professional bra fittings, custom tailoring, shoes, makeup and hair consultations. He introduced each woman with the reason why she wanted to have the makeover and why he decided to pick her over the rest of the thousands of entries. She would then walk down the runway to enthusiastic applause. Here is a taste of what he accomplished:

Beatrice Vansen-Saines at Macy's & Clinton Kelly Makeover America 

As you can see in this photo of Beatrice Vansen-Saines, color was everywhere. This Chicagoan walked the runway wearing a skirt by BCBG, a top by Calvin Klein with a very trendy chain applique, a jacket by BCBG and a pointy-toed heel by GUESS. Her wish was to "look more alive" and through Clinton's advice of jackets (always flattering), a great pencil skirt (she should live in them), and, of  course, color, her look was a smashing success. 

Stephanie Stomberg at Macys & Clinton Kelly Makeover America 

This particular mother of three from Western Springs, IL, "usually hated what she wore," but Stephanie Stomberg came out on the runway loving her Michael Michael Kors brown pencil skirt, her Michael Michael Kors leopard-print blouse, and her fuchsia DKNYC cardigan with a floral applique. Clinton's advice on her outfit was to use a mixture of prints, color, texture (hello, fishnets!), and accessories to create an interesting and flattering outfit. Her confidence and elation were contagious. 

Mallary Webb at Macy's & Clinton Kelly Makeover America photo by Steve Starr 

Mallary Webb, of Chicago, used to be a professional ballet dancer and appealed to Clinton to help her learn how to dress her new body. He gushed over her natural hourglass figure, telling the audience that with hourglass figures, it is important to emphasize the waist, as this on-trend, plaid dress by Nanette Lepore does. He repeated his call to color with a pair of blue stockings that complement the blue in the dress and added a metallic clutch by Style & Co. to finish off the look. 

Latricia Gordon at Macy's & Clinton Kelly Makeover America photo by Steve Starr 

Latricia Gordon was one of 4 pregnant ladies in the event, though one would never know it. This Chicagoan owned the runway in this plum,tiered, empire-waist frock by Theory, some fabulous applique tights, a black shrug by Rachel Roy and to-die-for peep-toe booties from Marc by Marc Jacobs. Clinton again focused on different textures, pops of color and some great accessories to create a great outfit.

Clinton closed the show by taking some questions from the audience and answering them frankly but humorously. The first question came from a lady who wanted to know how to find jackets that fit large busted women. Clinton advised her to always choose a V-neck top over a scoop neck, as scoop necks make horizontal lines that are unflattering for those women, and always to buy a jacket that she can close. Tailoring, he said, is essential. 

To the question regarding flattering color combinations, Clinton told the audience that the only true rule was that if a person has a yellow undertone to her skin, she should not wear yellow, and likewise if she has a red undertone, she should not wear red. The combination of black and orange should be avoided at all costs, though, as one risks being mistaken for a Halloween fanatic. He touched on the combination of black and brown, saying that if worn, "it should look planned" and that there should be a part of the outfit that combines the two colors.

Clinton also addressed cut off ages for trends. He told women to remember that miniskirts and "the sluttier trends" were not for everyone, and that the most important element of an outfit is confidence. He did caution women against too much cleavage, too short skirts, navel-bearing  and the dreaded hotpants, and above all not to try to compete with an 18 year old, at least stylistically.

Finally, the last question touched on the difficulty of buying trendy clothes at the size 14. Clinton sympathized, adding that since size 14 is really on the edge of "Misses" and "Womens", it is the hardest size to shop for and women are not going to be able to shop in just one department or the other. He advised women to shop both departments, and to look to brands like INC for trendier styles at larger sizes. He also added Petites into the equation, telling them to buy their essentials in the Petites department and look for trends in the Misses department. 

The last piece of advice Clinton gave the crowd was to always have confidence and embrace the flaws. A fitting note to end on. 

-Nina Krek

Photos: Steve Starr

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