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I’ve met Stacy London quite a few times. The first hundred or so occasions were not in person, but through the television screen, just like everyone else. I listened to her dole out style advice on What Not to Wear and watched as women’s self-esteem rose before my eyes. It was an early lesson in the transformative power of clothes and their ability to brighten that which already shines. I’ve also just always been a sucker for a good before-and-after.

Later, I met Stacy in the non-delusional sense while filming an episode of The Chatroom. It was a real “holy crap” moment. Here was this larger-than-life figure — about my height — right in front of me. She wore a ladylike dress, had a streak of gray in her hair and was everything you hope for those who you admire to be: kind, empathetic, furiously smart, funny.

Following that came a sequence of interactions during which I got to know her better: a press preview, an industry dinner, direct messages back-and-forth over Instagram. A conversation began to brew about giving her a “Man Repeller makeover.” I said of course, and then…

I panicked. Imagine the imposter syndrome that comes with styling America’s stylist!

A “Man Repeller Makeover” doesn’t really mean anything, because all of our styles are so different. For fun, and because it’s an excuse to get weird or make a cool picture, I usually take on the challenge of layering my poor subject in as many pieces as she can tolerate, then weighing her down with accessories. But when calling in clothes for Stacy, that mentality didn’t feel right. I wanted her Man Repeller “makeover” to do something she and I spoke about the third time we met: peel away that which felt like the old her, or the television version of her, or whatever people project on to her, to show a completely different side. She wanted the opposite of the ladylike dress. Meanwhile, I wanted to flex the same transformative ideology she taught me long ago, that clothes can brighten someone who already shines.

Meet Stacy London, the shiniest.

We talked about this a ton on set: How does your perception of your age and the changes that come with it dictate what you wear or don’t wear?

I started to notice my own aging when the clothes I used to wear didn’t feel the same anymore. There are a few things that factored into this. First, after 10 seasons of What Not to Wear and five years on the Today show as a style correspondent, I grew tired of the A-line dresses, the pencil skirts, the floral tops and that relentless the-higher-the-heel-the-closer-to-God mentality. It didn’t suit me when I wasn’t being “Stacy on camera,” but I felt pressure to appear that way generally.

Second, during the last season of What Not to Wear, my body ached all the time. I was always swollen and felt like I had the flu. It wasn’t until a year after the show ended that I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. The flares were caused by physical and emotional stress, so I stopped wearing heels as much and changed my diet. I started to wear fashionable but more comfortable clothing on Love, Lust or Run, the new show I was working on. I noticed how much I liked wearing pants, jumpsuits, leather — all things that felt closer to who I am now as opposed to 15 years ago when I started on What Not to Wear. That’s when it really started to dawn on me that as I evolved, as I aged, it would be silly to think my style taste would stay static.

I started to realize I liked wearing chic suits, not to look like a woman in a man’s world or in an ’80s sort of way, but because I felt more powerful. I began to feel my age deserved a uniform that was in keeping with the depth and breadth of my experience. I didn’t want to wear skin-revealing, body-conscious clothing as much, not simply because my body has changed but because I never wanted to look like I was trying to compete against younger women on whom those kinds of clothes can look fabulous. I mean, I’m not counting myself out here, but I want to savor age and experience, not waste my time trying to hold on to what I looked like at 30. I want my style to reflect my beliefs about that. I wear suits when I want to look sharp and powerful. I wear slouchy jumpsuits when I’m more casual. This is where I’m at now and I want to honor it.

(Also, since my spine surgery five months ago, I’ve been wearing a brace. Roomy is easier and heels are out of the equation for now.)

How do you deal with the awkward in-between of a style transition?

There are milestones in life, in anyone’s life, that require introspection and evolution. To think that your style won’t change isn’t just naive, it will get in the way of you being able to leave room (and money) for those transitions. I think one should always have simple, classic pieces that can act as blank slates and can be styled in different ways as your style evolves. For example, a perfect black suit that can be worn with a white shirt and sneakers works just as well for an evening event with a sequin tank and high heels. You want pieces that have a certain amount of flexibility until you fully realize your next stage of style development.

What do you tend to stay away from and why? What do you embrace?

I tend to stay away from anything too avant-garde, not because I don’t love certain things but because I know my body well enough to know what will look comical on it. For example, a lot of the big, HUGE ruffles we are seeing right now just don’t suit me. And don’t get me started on cold shoulders. Can’t stand them. Never could. They are exactly like sleeveless turtlenecks. To quote Nora Ephron: “Are you hot or are you cold?”

But I love me some jumpsuits. They’re grownup onesies: Ilana Kohn, Rachel Comey, Lauren Manoogian. Can’t get enough of ’em.

There are those who like prescriptive rules to help them get dressed, and those who don’t want to be told what to do. Where on that spectrum do you fall?

In my What Not to Wear days, I was all about telling people exactly what to do. We gave actual rules, for Chrissakes. I don’t really believe in that anymore. We’ve left the idea of “how to” dressing culture behind and have embraced more of a “me too” sense of style. As in,”Ooooh, we have similar aesthetics. I want to learn from her eye and improve my own.” The advice I give now is much more about understanding what someone wants to convey and feel, and I try to help them get there. I’m happy to provide guard rails so you don’t go careening off the road but I’m not going to pick the make, model and color of the car for you. Collaboration is much more interesting anyway.

What’s something you never get asked? What’s the answer?

I very rarely get asked about why I’m not married. The answer is that I didn’t know it was a requirement.

What does your current style say — or what do you want it to say — about you as a whole?

Because my current style can actually be compared to my previous style, I guess I want it to say that I’ve evolved, I’ve mellowed, I have a stronger sense of myself. I don’t need outside approval to make me feel good about what I’m wearing. I want it to say that I’m not trying to be anything other than myself. The power in using style to be authentic affords you all sorts of wonderful opportunities.

What’s one piece of advice you wish you could tell your “younger” self now? (What age are you speaking to?)

I would like to tell my 39-year-old self that spending the year worrying about turning 40 was a complete waste. It is so much better on this side of the fence. All that worry for absolutely nada.

You hate your outfit. You’re stuck because you wore it out of the house in the morning and won’t have time to go home and change. What do you do?

Suck it up, buttercup. Put on some lipstick and handle your shit anyway.

When do you feel your most powerful? Your most beautiful?

To be honest, I always feel somewhat powerful. My style either reflects that power or it’s meant to coax it out of me when I’m not feeling it. That could be a suit or something sparkly, depends on the day.

Beautiful is tricky. The word is tricky and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? I guess I would have to say I feel much better when my roots don’t frizz. There are days I look in the mirror and think, “Oooh girl, get something FIXED.” But mostly I kind of watch myself age in wonder. This body, this temporary home of ours, changes in ways that are weird and wonderful, scary and beautiful. All of it kind of fascinates me.

Follow Stacy on Instagram @stacylondonreal. Photos by Tory Rust; follow her on Instagram @toryrust.

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  • Yvonne Dunlevie

    This was the best way to start my morning. The photos are unreal. Thank you Amelia, Tory, Eliz, etc. etc. etc. Now running late see you people soon.

  • joce

    She looks so beautiful in every photo. Love that suit with the big pink earrings!

    I think you have a typo though! “And don’t get me started on cold shoulders. Can’t stand then. Never could.” Should it be ‘can’t stand them’?

    • Amelia Diamond

      ty!!!

  • Elli rvs

    This piece made my day. I have loved Stacy from the start of what not to wear days and this interview and the editorial are awesome and relevant and beautiful!!!

  • Hilary

    Adore this. Every piece/interview MR has done with Stacy is fantastic! Also, really really love that MR is featuring more stories on over-40 women lately. <3

    Question: In the slideshow, I don't see outfit details for anything other than the first look?

  • Priscila Martínez

    I’ve gotta say, I LOVE the website’s new design! <3

  • Nikka Duarte

    What a stunning, intelligent, and inspiring lady! Absolutely loved all of it.
    I’m an avid thrifter and one time I was wearing a simple tee and jeans. I couldn’t believe I went out the house like that. I just didn’t feel like me and I had somewhere to be, so after work I ran to the nearest thrift shop and basically walked out with a new outfit. Should I have washed it first? In retrospect, yes. If I’m ever in a situation like that I usually suck it up, but this one time I. COULD. NOT.
    Anyways thank you for this awesome read to start my day!

    • UGH DON’T YOU HATE THOSE DAYS? You just want to hide in a corner and slither home at the end of the day hoping nobody saw you. I feel like Stacy just called us out though, challenge accepted or what, girl?! Hahaha

  • Barb

    Stacy is an icon. I love her attitude, her style (both then and now), and basically everything about her. I truly believe that how we present ourselves is an act of self-care, and when you dress like you care, you’ll be more confident and people will react to that. Thank you Stacy!!

    • Barb

      I’m also in the midst of a style transition. I’m a new mom, and while I don’t subscribe to “dressing like a mom”, I just don’t have time for fussy styles right now. I’m drifting more towards easy-to-wear, relaxed styles and more comfortable shoes so I can still look good and not waste any time that I could be spending with my little guy instead!

  • Adrianna

    The top photo of Stacy on sitting on the stool is amazing.

  • this so rocked

  • Hil

    speaking of comfortable shoes without heels, I would love some recs for fun attractive shoes I can walk in all day (Leandra’s latest article on sandals was fun but does not count ;))

  • Quinn Halman

    Amelia Diamond does it again, folks.

  • Liz Warners

    LOVE HER. Love this. Yes yes yes.

  • maisonsheik.com

    I love this and I LOVE the new redesign. Brava on both!

  • Heather

    Although a frequent reader, I rarely comment on your articles. However, this article is so fantastic that I can’t resist. Stacey is so motivating and inspiring. She is so much more than her What Not to Wear era (though that era also deserves much credit and respect). I love reading or watching anything with her, as her perspective is so grounded. I absolutely LOVE the styling you have done for her MR makeover too! She looks amazing. I would wear every one of these outfits. Fabulous job. Love Love Love.

    • fuzzball

      I agree with everything you said…love Stacey London.

  • NikNak

    Ahhh where are all of these articles of clothing from?

  • She’s such a babe and totally ageless!

  • Babs

    these looks are ULTIMATE!

    • Babs

      the turtleneck look, especially, was super surprising/interesting. love it!

  • Fernanda Kuri

    I absolutely love this new look, both your website’s and Stacy’s. 🙂

  • This was a brilliant post. Style shift, rather than a make-over… and the choices you made for Stacey are wonderful. Loved this.

  • Mya Patel

    I’m in love with this post. The clothes are amazing and she seriously owns them with the best god damn smile i have ever seen. thank you for a makeover being an exploration of transition rather than here is a beautiful human if she knows how to dress.

  • Great interview- gave me another powerful woman to follow on IG! I love “The power in using style to be authentic affords you all sorts of wonderful opportunities.” Such a great message to live by.

  • melodyvon

    haven’t read the whole interview yed just had to say i love the whole bowie feel of the large pink pants outfit, love that you put her in bold colors and generally in pants which are “ill-fitting” but fit her and her personality so perfectly!

    i already loved her, style rules and all, but you made her even more with those outfits!

  • Leah Silver Graves

    It has been so interesting to watch Stacey’s style change! Good for her for feeling comfortable and powerful. <3

  • Anne Dyer

    I’m totally with Stacy patiently waiting out this whole “show your shoulder but cover up the rest of your arm” moment.

  • Katy

    LOVE her!

  • Lacey Bergevin

    I love her SO much! I agree – do not waste the year before your 40th birthday worrying about turning 40 – use that year to plan a fabulous party or vacation to celebrate it!

  • Kay

    Stacy I ❤️ you so much!!!! Suck it up buttercup is my new mantra

  • chouette

    UGH LOVE HER!!! I always wanted to ask if she ever regretted anyone she made over on What Not To Wear. I never remember them airing any that seemed like they stripped away personality – if anything they still served to enhance it. It’s so funny to see her answers now in this era of personal expression and style, compared to the pre-athleisure era when WNTW was on TV and there were still RULES!

  • Danielle Alexandra LeClair

    I spent my years before turning 30 in mourning – but the years before turning 40 are all gonna be about sucking it up, enjoying the ride and living my life; thanks for a great article and fab photos!

  • This is like a glass of strawberry lemonade for the spirit

  • Christel Michelle

    This has now joined my top 3 favorite Amelia Diamond articles. I’m bookmarking it forever.

  • lateshift

    LOVE HER so much. And tbh I’ve gone through a similar transition, although we’re not in the same age group…the older I get, the more wearing feminine clothes with a bit of a masculine vibe appeals to me. Actually, the act of me wearing them makes them “feminine,” and they have to be sized right for a woman, they’re just clothing styles and colors that men have gravitated to precisely because they convey authority, or confidence, or action – and that’s true regardless of what gender’s wearing them.

    I still go for dresses and skirts sometimes, and the fact that I don’t wear colors or frills doesn’t mean I don’t LOVE them on people who can rock them, or that I think more feminine styles are somehow inferior. It’s just that, now that I’m thinking about it, when I wear a slouchy-but-polished shirt, or perfect vintage boyfriend jean, or a pair of oxfords, a part of me probably feels like I’m projecting the fact that I care about my appearance, but I’m not looking for approval from anyone. That I’m sexy, but not a sex object. Very Man Repeller-y. 🙂

  • This article is every.single.thing. Love it.

  • Love this article so much!!!! Stacy taught me so much about style when I was in 3rd grade binge watching TLC! She continues to be an incredible icon! I love the ideas about style being fluid, capable of changing. Also, I’m smiling big time thinking about Amelia and Stacy being friends.

    http://www.outfitsandobservations.com

  • Merrynell

    I wanna be Stacy London when I grow up!

  • katemcpsf

    i can’t stop loving this!

  • allison

    I love Stacey! Always have and always will. So happy that she still shares her joyous, straightforward personality with us through insta, her projects and profiles like this. She’s so shiny!

  • starryhye

    Such a great piece, Amelia! I’ve adored Ms. London for ages. I think she is so smart, so chic and just so damn awesome! Every one of her “looks” is just the visual eye candy my Tuesday needed.

  • Amelia (& team)– Please more interviews in this style! It was such a refreshing read with thought provoking questions. I’ve always adored and admired Stacy, and this interview felt like watching a sunrise drinking your favorite cup of coffee. xxx

  • A perfect lady with great minds.

  • Wow I like her so much than who I thought she was when watching What Not to Wear, a beautiful but strict teacher whom I hated yet wanted the approval of

  • Shea

    This is such a GREAT article/interview, Amelia! Stacey is one of the first women who I can remember looking up to when I would watch What Not to Wear as a kid. I didn’t know the phrase then, but she is one of the OG girl bosses who I inspired me. The styling here is perfect and makes me want to go out right now and buy some kick ass, wide-leg pants. (Also, loving the new man repeller site!)

  • Lilli

    Amelia this article is sensational! I love Stacey, I love the styling and I love the interesting and thought provoking interview. I’ve always loved your writing and styling, and I think this may be my favorite piece ever! I feel so inspired by Stacey, what an awesome lady.

  • I just LOVE LOVE LOVE Stacy. I watched every single episode of What not to Wear when i was a (young) teenager, and Carmindy was the one who made me wish i worked with makeup (which i actually do now).

    I think she (Stacy) evolved in such an inspiring way. She is stylish, quirky, intelligent and funny. You go, girl!
    Also : “SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!”

  • June Feldman

    Sharing this with my daughter with whom I enjoyed many, many an episode of what not to wear. We love fashion conversations and share notes all the time while she is a 26 year old 5’2″ dancer and I am a 62 year old Sicilian woman of size. The idea behind this post (and Stacy’s persona) that our styles are deeply personal and migrate to new places as our person-hoods evolve (and yes, age) ie essential to our sense of well being and spirit as we continue to inhabit this world. Caring about being and looking our best is important. Fashion and personal style are important. And that can take as many forms as there are women and men on this planet.

  • Melina Lobo

    I have seen all the episodes of what not to wear and I love Stacy. She inspired me when I was young to love myself more and to understand how the way we dress matters. It is nice to read about her, and still get some advices. Palazzo pants look good on her! Thanks!!

  • Stacey is the best. Thank you for this MR!

  • primadarling.com

    Love her, never even saw What Not to Wear, that was during my cable free era, but I’m a fan now!

  • Ellie Thomson

    Ah this is too good! Love Stacy, love the make over

  • Andrea Darst

    Great article and interview! I’ve been a fan of Stacy’s forever!!

  • David Stephens

    I get that MR is tongue in cheek not a goal or prophecy. I’ve always enjoyed fashion and as long as I have been acquainted with her (through television) Stacey London. As a man I doubt that Stacey London could ever be repellent even in a brace. I chose to be monogamous but I am glad to know there’s a lady out there who understands marriage is not a requirement for happiness in life or a relationship.