'What Not to Wear's Stacy London Helps You Dress for Less Stress at Work

Anyone who's ever watched TLC has probably both laughed and cringed, and finally applauded, at the work of fashion gurus Stacy London and Clinton Kelly on the cable network's long-running reality hit, "What Not to Wear.' Together they've taken hundreds of fashion neophytes and retrofitted them for work, love and life.

So how do you get to be a leading TV stylist, not only with your own show, but with juicy endorsement deals that can keep you in designer fashions for years to come? London took the traditional route, first getting a top-notch education at Vassar College, although it wasn't in fashion. London had a double major in 20th-Century philosophy and German literature -- which begs the question, where did she get her trademark expression of shouting "Shut up!"?

It also leads you to wonder how she so successfully transferred into style. It was a summer internship -- in Paris at Christian Dior's public relations department -- that helped London decide she'd like to pursue fashion as a career. She got a position as a fashion assistant at Vogue magazine, worked her way up to senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle, and also gained experience as a celebrity stylist for stars including Liv Tyler and Kate Winslet.

In 2003, London began hosting the makeover show 'What Not to Wear,' and it was an immediate hit (Kelly joined the show is Season 2). Audiences warmed up to London because she can relate to them, confessing that she has had weight issues of her own, and that she's been every size from 0 to 16 at one time or another.

As a brand ambassador for products like Sprint, Pantene, Woolite, Dr. Scholl's, and Riders by Lee, among other products, and a contributor to 'Today,' the 'Early Show,' 'Access Hollywood' and various other news and entertainment programs, London knows a thing or two about style in the workplace. She's helped people from every walk of life sharpen their images and stand out as a professional, rather than blend in as drab worker bee -- or, worse yet, appear lackadaisical about their jobs.

London sat down in an exclusive interview with AOL Jobs to discuss how, in the workplace, clothes really can make the man or the woman:


Q. What are the trends for work attire in 2011?

A. I don't think that work attire has trends from season to season. Suits are always appropriate, but I think that people are feeling more and more comfortable wearing polished separates, rather than just suiting in the workplace.

In womenswear, I think we'll see a wider trouser this season, more '70s inspired, but ladylike will still be relevant in terms of the huge 'Mad Men' influence: pencil skirts and kitten heels are not only work appropriate but comfortable.


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In menswear, we continue to see a narrower pant. The skinny suit, much like the skinny jean for women, is becoming de rigeur these days.


Q. What is your favorite and least favorite work attire trend? Why?

A. It's not "trends" per se that I find better or worse but the interpretation of them in the workplace: for example, "business casual." This is a term that most people completely misinterpret. Somehow we forget all the "business" and just go with "casual." Even if you have casual Fridays and can wear jeans to work, wear a nice dark wash -- well-fitting jeans, not the ones you change the oil in your car in. Wear a blouse and a cardigan or a button front shirt and an easy sports jacket, not an extra large T-shirt from your local bar.


AOL Jobs Asks
Stacy London, Host of 'What Not to Wear'
5 Quick Questions

1. What was your first job? Aside from babysitting, it was at a jewelry store in the West Village.

2. What inspires you? Positive, happy people.

3. What is the most important trait needed to succeed? Success is a combination of things: the perfect storm of confidence, skill and luck.

4. What is your biggest challenge? Keeping the room temperature in my apartment constant. My cat Al has a cold so he's very sensitive to temperature shifts.

5. What is the best career advice you ever received? ‎"Do NOT screw this one up" -- from my stepmother, Vicki, before my last screen test for 'WNTW.'

Q. Is it more important to be comfortable or look stylish at work?

A. It's essential to be both. You should never sacrifice one for the sake of the other. Comfort without style can look messy and inappropriate in business surroundings. Style without comfort will make the wearer LOOK, not just feel, uncomfortable -- which in and of itself, is not stylish. Clothing that fits properly will be comfortable; heels with added insole support can be comfortable; soft, wearable fabrics will feel comfortable; and all of these are essential to looking stylish at work.


Q. What do you recommend people wear to look and feel authoritative and empowered for a job interview or important meeting?

A. Well, suits are great for conveying an image of authority, for sure. For men, suiting is ALL about details of the way it fits. I don't think men have to play it safe with a white shirt and solid tie. I like to see bolder prints in the tie, even just a strong stripe or check, contrasted by a softer similar print in the shirt. You don't have to get too crazy. The suit can have a "neutral" print (meaning from far away it looks like a solid, like houndstooth, windowpane, glen plaid) to add even more visual interest.

Women can obviously wear suits (pant or skirt) as well and pair them with more feminine, colorful or textured tops. An alternative option for women is dresses, ones that are tailored well and appropriately hemmed at the knee. Straighter cuts in womenswear like pencil skirts and sheath dresses tend to have clean lines, which can look very authoritative.


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Q. Can you give us suggestions for several items every man should have in his work wardrobe?

A. A lace-up shoe, a perfectly tailored suit, a perfectly tailored sports jacket to wear with more casual pants and jeans.


Q. How about two to three items every woman should have in her work wardrobe?

A. A comfortable closed toe heel for suiting and separates, a pencil or simple A-line skirt (depending on preference and body type) and a suit -- ideally one that comes with a jacket, pant AND skirt option to make it as user-friendly as possible.


Q. What not to wear? Give us some examples of items no man should ever wear to work.

A. Rubber flip flops (unless he's a lifeguard at a pool), shorts (unless he's a lifeguard at a pool or a beach), or really any kind of sandal -- that just seems weird in a work environment: looking down and seeing Larry's hairy toes. Yuck.


Q. What not to wear? And examples of items no woman should ever wear to work.

A. Anything that reveals too much cleavage, or ANY tummy or too much skin, period. And anything sheer to the point of distraction. Oh, and leave the stripper heels at home, too.

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Avice

The worst thing I ever saw on What Not to Wear was worn by Stacy London. I don't know what it was but it looked like she had a sheep on each arm!! I only watched the show to see what Nick and Carmody did for these women and now I avoid it. I couldn't stand her sneers.

February 06 2011 at 4:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nina

This is all great advice, UNLESS you work for a dating service, where dressing like a hooker is the norm, unfortunatley.

February 05 2011 at 7:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joseph guignon

Steve R- It's plain and simple to see that you do believe in God, for "Even the demons fear and are afraid" Holy Bible. To curse God is just plain foolish. God even said it plainly: "Only a fool curses God" and "Only a fool says there is no God". I wouldn't want to be in your shoes for anything.

February 05 2011 at 7:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pam

I may not like some of the words that Mark My Words used, but where on earth in his ranting did it say that he was unemployed? All of you responders need to back off the assumptions.

February 05 2011 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joseph guignon

Steve R- With a mouth and an attitude like yours who would want to hire you?!

February 05 2011 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
moinks

Kids it's never been a fashion show or fashion statement moment. They're right, it's a conservative look. No sexy looks or tattos showing, I don't want the folks who need to show that working for me and my company. I want intelligent, preferably nice looking people, who are there to help my company prosper and one does that being neat and clean. Dress should always be conservative and capable of flying under the radar. The way one expresses themselves by the way they dress is a clear indication of how they will handle business...the mini-skirt, the gold chains dangling in chest hair and the show-off tattoo types better not interview with me....

February 05 2011 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robert

I watch and observe Americans on a daily basis and what i see is NOT very encouriging. We are calle'd slob's from the European and for a reason. When i see some of the job applicants coming to my door , I crinch, i will NOT hire a slob or messy, tatooed person.

February 05 2011 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robert

Finaly the sanity has returned to shoes, Kitten heel they call this? I always wore them because they make sense unlike the Hooker shoes they wear in the sometimes tastless USA.

February 05 2011 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wkenne

Diet 12.24.48

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February 05 2011 at 5:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cathy

Paul, it's not only about insourcing...it's also about unloading the older American workers. Friend of ours worked for many years over at HippP..if you can guess who that is. Three months before she could take early retirement she get's handed the pink one. Within that corporation their employees alway had a list posted for other positions within they could apply for should it ever come down to whatever positions bit the dust. When she got her notice and had two months to look about for something else..That list was nowhere to be found, and nomatter what she tried...Nothing worked and she was out the door. Corporations start looking for ways to dump you as soon as you hit your late 40's these days. This is truth!

February 05 2011 at 5:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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