Fashion Journalists Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine
Fashion journalists Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine are hosts of the BBC show What Not to Wear which gives advice to women on what not to wear/what to wear if one has, for instance, big arms, flabby tummy, thick legs, etc. Their book, What Not To Wear is available now in paperback.
Other segments from the episode on July 22, 2003
DATE July 22, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
PROGRAM Fresh Air
Interview: Peter Stothard discusses Prime Minister Tony Blair's
activities for 30 days just before and during war with Iraq
TERRY GROSS, host:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, like President Bush, is facing criticism
that his government hyped intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction
to justify going to war. My guest, Peter Stothard, was given special access
to Blair just before and during the war. Beginning March 10th, Stothard spent
30 days with Blair at 10 Downing Street and war summits around the world.
Stothard's new book is called "Thirty Days." A shorter journal of those days
was first published in the Times of London. Stothard is the former editor of
the paper and current editor of the Times Literary Supplement.
Under investigation now is the probable suicide of David Kelly, a British
adviser on weapons of mass destruction and a former UN weapons inspector in
Iraq. He was found dead on Friday. The BBC says that Kelly was the primary
source for their report in late May that said the Blair government exaggerated
the threat of WMD, particularly in stating that Iraq could deploy those
weapons within 45 minutes of a command to do so. Kelly admitted that he was a
source for the report, but denied that he'd discussed the 45-minute issue. He
testified before a House of Commons committee three days before his death.
I asked Peter Stothard about the impact of this story on the Blair government.
Mr. PETER STOTHARD (Author, "Thirty Days"): Well, it's a very serious
allegation for the prime minister and his staff because it suggested that they
had taken intelligence data, didn't find it interesting enough and had somehow
persuaded the intelligence services to add material to make it kind of sexier,
more interesting. The prime minister took very, very deeply and bitterly
against the accusation that he'd done that because he was absolutely certain
that it wasn't true and, therefore, he and his staff had every reason to be
very hostile to whoever in the government had been the source of this
Now it was one of those little media squalls which was a bit of a sideshow to
all the big things that were going on, but it rapidly became the main show
and, of course, now, you know, once the show has a dead body on the floor,
it's absolutely the main show. And so the prime minister, who, you know,
earlier this week was basking in glory in Washington and getting standing
ovations, is now in really serious difficulties on this one.
GROSS: Tony Blair has called for a judicial inquiry into the death of David
Kelly. What's at stake for Blair in this story?
Mr. STOTHARD: Well, there've been very high stakes for Tony Blair
throughout. He was absolutely convinced that what he was doing in taking
Britain into war alongside the United States was correct and he was prepared
to take an enormous amount of flak there. Now for 30 days I watched him do
just that. But he's also been absolutely certain that what he did in relation
to presenting the intelligence data before the war was all true and OK. I
think maybe in retrospect they're wondering whether they perhaps should have
released so much. But, you know, he's confident that what he did was right,
and he certainly didn't want an inquiry into it. And certainly I think before
I left England, it was made quite clear to me Tony Blair would quit, I think,
rather than allow an inquiry into the handling of the WMD issue in the run-up
to the war.
But, of course, a death changes everything, and now there's an inquiry into
the circumstances surrounding David Kelly's death, and it's hard to think that
that inquiry won't go quite a long way into looking at the way in which the
WMD evidence was put before the war--absolutely what the prime minister didn't
GROSS: President Bush is in the middle of a controversy now over 16 words in
one of his speeches, and those 16 words are `The British government has
learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium
from Africa.' Now the Bush administration is, of course, attributing this
information to the British, saying, `We cited the British intelligence for
this.' How are the British taking this? Do they feel like they're being put
into the position of being the fall guy?
Mr. STOTHARD: No, I don't think this is very well understood over here. The
British simply stand by that story, when all that the British say is that
Saddam Hussein was attempting to buy uranium in Africa. Now if someone from
the CIA goes to Niger and finds that he has confidence in the Niger systems
and that he can find no evidence that Saddam was trying to buy uranium, well,
that doesn't seem to the British to in any way contradict their view from
other sources that he was trying to buy it, and nor, I think, would the CIA
argue the contrary. It's just that two sources say different things, and the
British are very, very confident in their source.
GROSS: When you first got to 10 Downing Street on March 10th to write your
piece, the atmosphere was already turning against Tony Blair and against the
war. There were demonstrations outside of 10 Downing Street. What was it
like to be inside while all these demonstrations were taking place outside?
Mr. STOTHARD: It was a very extraordinary experience. But I've been to
Downing Street before many times as a newspaper editor and as a political
journalist, but I never saw anything like I saw on that first day. Tony Blair
was doing what he called his masochism strategy. He was going around TV
studios facing people who hated him, hated his policies, were calling him a
war criminal, a child murderer and worse. And he was being slow hand-clapped
and, frankly, kind of humiliated day after day. And a lot of his advisers
thought, `This is terrible.' You know no British prime minister, certainly no
American president would ever do something like that, but Tony Blair decided
that what he was going to do in Iraq was right, and he saw this extraordinary
sort of virtue in knocking his head against a brick wall, trying to persuade
people that what he was going to do was right and their view of it was wrong.
And I talked to him a lot about this. I said, `Look, you know, why are you
doing this? You know, you're not changing anybody's mind, are you?' And he
said, `No, but I want it to be absolutely clear after this is over that I
tried to change people's minds. You know, I sincerely believe that the world
changed after 9/11, that there's a totally different threat to our generation
of leaders than there were before. A lot of people don't agree with me and
I'm determined to do everything I can to make sure that as many as possible of
them do believe in me.'
GROSS: You know, demonstrators want to believe that their demonstration's
going to affect their leaders and help change the minds of their leaders. Did
you have any impression at all that the demonstrations were having any effect
on what Tony Blair and his advisers were planning?
Mr. STOTHARD: No, I don't...
GROSS: Was he getting to them?
Mr. STOTHARD: Yes. Must be very frustrating for the demonstrators, who are
very, very close to Downing Street and got a lot closer to Downing Street than
you can get to the White House. You know, Tony Blair only had to open a
window or go out on a balcony and hear this roar of people shouting, `Tony,
Tony, Tony, out, out, out!' So you'd have thought it ought to get to him, but
I have to report that he was absolutely committed and was not wobbling at all.
And I never saw any sense or heard of any sense that he was ever looking
around him, looking at the millions of people in the streets and saying,
`Well, you know, those millions of people are right and I am wrong.' And that
absolute bedrock, fixed position was what really gave the confidence to his
staff, this tiny group of staff that were running everything. I mean, it was
a very odd sight of government in action: a man who'd made up his mind, a
tiny number of people who were helping him to put that decision into practice,
and this vast army of protesters at the gates and a rather sort of sullen
support from his political colleagues, who, you know, came in and out of
Downing Street as though they were running the government, although they knew,
of course, that they weren't running the government at all.
GROSS: You were at 10 Downing Street when Tony Blair was preparing his speech
before Parliament urging the ministers to vote for war with Iraq. You
observed a little bit of the editing process. What did you see as his aides
helped him formulate the speech?
Mr. STOTHARD: I think it would surprise Americans the extent to which it was
done in an extraordinary rush. You know, Tony Blair wrote the speech himself,
the sort of outlines of it. I was with him when he did it on one Saturday
afternoon in Downing Street. He doesn't have professional speechwriters, so
he wrote the speech out in longhand in blue ink. It was then given to various
people to make comments on. And when we met him again in the House of Commons
just before the speech was to be produced, huge sections of it were totally up
in the air. There was a whole section, for instance, on appeasement--you
know, would it be a good idea to compare Saddam Hussein to Hitler and to
attack the opponents of this war as the appeasers of Hitler? This was a big
sort of philosophical, you know, history lesson issue amongst his advisers,
and in Britain and in the press at that time, and you could argue about it all
But suddenly, with only 20 minutes to go to make this speech, we were still
arguing about it. I mean, he was saying, `Well, should it go in? Should it
go out? You know, should we water it down? Should we sort of hype it up?'
And, in fact, when he went into the House of Commons chamber, they were still
uncertain exactly whether he was going to use that bit or not. I mean, the
House of Commons is a real bear pit, and you've got to think on your feet and
you just need sort of speech notes, really, and that was, frankly, all he had,
nothing like the sort of set piece speech that you're used to in a State of
the Union address or something like that. It was all being put together at
the last minute by instinct, and the only person responsible for it is the
prime minister himself. It's a very remarkable sight to see.
GROSS: And how did the speech go?
Mr. STOTHARD: There were two views of the speech. On the outside, everybody
said it was a complete triumph and the newspaper headlines were very positive.
I have to say, in Tony Blair's office, where I was, he came back and everybody
seemed very deflated. Of course, they knew all the lines, they'd heard them
before and they knew that the real job to be done was not the speech itself,
which was now over, but trying to persuade dozens and dozens of Labor MPs who
weren't persuaded that they should support the prime minister. And it was at
that moment, just as the real hard political arm-twisting was about to begin,
that the White House called and started asking, you know, `Was it OK if we
started the war now?' And at that moment, the balloon really did go up in the
prime minister's office. I've never seen those guys so sort of shocked and
GROSS: So how did Blair's people respond to Bush's people when the Bush
administration made the phone call?
Mr. STOTHARD: Well, I was in the room, and Alastair Campbell, who is not
an easy man to embarrass or get too excited, and he said to the White House,
`Well, if you could just hold it till we've got this thing out of the way, it
would be very helpful.'
GROSS: Were there calls from the European Union, from leaders of the European
Union while you were at 10 Downing Street? And could you get a sense, if so,
of what those calls were like?
Mr. STOTHARD: Yeah, Downing Street divided the world in two sections: the
real world and the unreal world. In the real world is the United States and
Iraq, the Mideast. The unreal world, in their sort of insider joke, is the
European Union. Jacques Chirac was right at the forefront of the argument in
those first few days. And Tony Blair had good relations with Jacques Chirac;
there was a picture on Tony Blair's wall of Jacques Chirac with baby Leo
Blair, and Bill Clinton in the picture, too; very, very good fun and
huggermugger. But when it was clear that Chirac was going to stop any attempt
to get the second resolution through the UN, suddenly there was a great sort
of freezing in relations between Britain and particularly France.
Gerhard Schroeder's slightly different. They had dinner together on, I think,
the third night that I was there. Schroeder was in a very embarrassing
position because, of course, he'd said he'd support President Bush and then
had changed his mind when the German electorate didn't seem to like it very
much. So President Bush angry with Schroeder, Blair trying to patch it up
because Schroeder is kind of a bit more like Bill Clinton as far as Blair is
concerned. He's a kind of friendly, you know, pat-you-on-the-back guy. But
the real ice was between Blair and Chirac, and I watched them in the corridors
in Brussels--extraordinary confrontation which seemed at one point as though
it was going to end in a terrible sort of diplomatic rift, but gradually
pieced itself together to become just about sort of holding the show on the
road. A lot of very, very tense diplomats, including the German chancellor,
watching as Tony Blair spoke to Jacques Chirac after the first British
casualties had been announced. And at the first meeting that they'd had to be
together since he decided that he would veto that second resolution, that was
high-tension diplomacy for those who like that kind of thing.
GROSS: My guest is Peter Stothard, author of "Thirty Days: Tony Blair and
the Test of History." We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Peter Stothard. He's the
editor of the Times Literary Supplement, former editor of the Times of London.
For 30 days he was able to stay in 10 Downing Street observing Tony Blair. He
wrote a piece on that for the Times of London, and now he's expanded that into
a book called "Thirty Days," and the 30 days started on March 10th, just
before the war in Iraq.
After the war officially began, Tony Blair was preparing his speech to tell
the British public about the war, and he was considering ending his speech
with `God bless you.' That was a very controversial end within 10 Downing
Street. What was the controversy that you observed over that ending?
Mr. STOTHARD: It was an extraordinary moment. I'd never seen the entire
group around Tony Blair rise up as one, you know, to attack the prime minister
the way that they did over that. The prime minister is a fairly
conventionally religious man, by British standards, and I thought he would
have had no problem whatsoever--as, indeed, would large numbers of the British
people--with ending a speech with `God bless you.' But, of course, his
political aides knew that in the context of this war and the way this war was
being understood, any suggestion that could allow people to say that this war
was being fought for religious purposes, you know, was some kind of crusade,
was sort of hostile to Muslims, was absolute dynamite and he shouldn't do it,
so that Tony Blair took a great deal of persuading. You know, he said, `Look,
you know, I want to end "God bless you,"' and then they said, `No, people
don't want chaplains stuffing stuff down their throats.' And Tony Blair was
quite affronted by this and said, `You're a godless lot, aren't you?' Then
there was a Jewish guy who was one of the aides to Alastair Campbell. He
said, `Count me out. I'm godless,' and then somebody else shouted, `That's
not the same God.' And then Tony Blair came in with, `Yes, it is the same
And here we were; there was a call to President Bush waiting, we had a
motorcade downstairs to take us off to Brussels. I remember Cherie Blair, the
prime minister's wife, was trying to get out and was blocked by a BBC camera
van. It was a complete sort of--you know, everybody was on high alert, high
tension, and there we were, having this kind of philosophical, theological
discussion about whether the Jewish and Christian Gods are the same or not.
GROSS: So finally, Blair did not end the speech with `God bless you.'
Mr. STOTHARD: No, I'm afraid he didn't. He ended it with a very lame `thank
you,' and you could almost tell by the tone of his voice when he was
delivering that speech that he sort of somehow felt he'd been talked out of
something that he really wanted to do.
GROSS: Now let me ask you about another thing that you observed in your 30
days of observing Tony Blair. You accompanied Tony Blair to a castle in
Northern Ireland where President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell
came. Do you feel like you were able to get any insights into the
relationship between George Bush and Tony Blair?
Mr. STOTHARD: Yes, I think so. It's a businesslike relationship. I mean,
Blair and Clinton had this buddy-buddy relationship, and you could almost see
them when they were in the room together they had their arms around each
other, always looked as though they would, you know, go out for a drink, have
dinner, talk about the third-wave politics for the world, you know, till
midnight. Bush and Blair are really quite different. I watched them
particularly at Hillsbrough Castle. They were standing against an iron
gate and behind it was the world's biggest rhododendron trees. That made
quite a beautiful sight. But there was always at least a yard between them, a
whole sort of half a gate between these two people as they talked. And Bush
would talk in wide gestures, great expansive gestures, and we know from the
aides around him at that stage he had this very sort of broad sense of the way
in which things would go after the war.
The British were much more cautious. Tony Blair would always make little
steplike movements with his hands, suggesting that, `Look, you know, if you're
going to rebuild Iraq, if you're going to have a Middle East peace process, if
you're going to really get the benefits that can come from this successful
military action, you've got to take it step by step within the international
community.' And you could see these two guys arguing about this, but it was
all done in a very businesslike, sort of CEO-to-CEO-style way. I think the
British came to respect George Bush because although, you know, Blair and
Clinton were great mates, they didn't always find that the deals that they'd
done or thought they'd done would sort of stick when everybody was sort of
remembering or making their notes the next morning, whereas I think they got
the impression, and still have the impression, with George Bush that if you
make a deal with George Bush that it will stick and then he will stay by it,
and that that's perhaps a better way, if perhaps a less immediately sort of
friend-to-friend way, of conducting international business.
GROSS: One last question. Some of Blair's critics in England have said that
Tony Blair behaved like he's George Bush's poodle. Do you get a sense of
whether that gets to Tony Blair?
Mr. STOTHARD: Tony Blair's become much tougher. One of the things that
surprised me going back into Downing Street for 30 days, having not been there
for a little while before, was just how much thicker-skinned he'd become.
He's taken some big knocks from the media, and so the stuff he's thinking at
the moment--I mean, at least he's kind of prepared for it emotionally,
psychologically. So when people called him President Bush's poodle, well,
that's quite kind to some of the other things that they're calling him. I
mean, it is difficult for a British prime minister, always has been. It was
difficult with Thatcher and Reagan. You know, it was difficult even with
Churchill and Eisenhower. You always--we are close allies. We do see a lot
of things the same way. British prime ministers often exaggerate their
closeness to American president. Churchill did, MacMillan did, even Thatcher
may have done a bit. I think Tony Blair is quite keen not to do that. He
doesn't want to pretend a closeness with America that he doesn't have.
Equally well, he knows that any British prime minister is inevitably going to
be called by anti-Americans--and Europeans have a totally different view of
the world--America's poodle, and that's--you know, it goes with the territory.
GROSS: Well, I want to thank you so much for talking with us.
Mr. STOTHARD: Thank you.
GROSS: Peter Stothard is the author of "Thirty Days: Tony Blair and the Test
of History." He's the editor of the Times Literary Supplement.
I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: Makeover shows aren't only popular in America, they're big in England,
too. Coming up, we will meet the creators of one of the BBC's popular shows
"What Not to Wear," Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine. And Ken Tucker
reviews a new CD by the trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
(Soundbite of music)
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Interview: Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine discuss their
BBC show, "What Not To Wear"
TERRY GROSS, host:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
I confess: I think some makeover shows are fun, and occasionally instructive.
They're big hits in England as well as America. In fact, one of the popular
BBC shows, "What Not to Wear," is the basis of a show of the same name on The
Learning Channel. My guests, Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine are the
hosts of the British show. It's seen here on BBC America. Woodall and
Constantine also have a book called "What Not to Wear" that's just been
published in paperback.
Here's how the show works. A woman who is totally lacking in fashion sense is
nominated by family and friends for a makeover. Woodall and Constantine
ambush the woman and tell her she's been chosen for the show and that she's
secretly been filmed so that she and we can get a good look at her fashion
problems. Then the hosts go through the woman's closet with her, demonstrate
how awful her clothes are, throw the biggest offenders in a trash can and give
her 2,000 pounds to buy a new wardrobe with their help.
Here's a scene in which Woodall and Constantine are working with a middle-aged
woman of Indian descent, watching the secret footage they shot of her.
(Soundbite of "What Not to Wear")
Ms. SUSANNAH CONSTANTINE (Co-host): How much black do you wear?
Unidentified Woman: Quite a bit.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: You do, don't you?
Ms. TRINNY WOODALL (Co-host): Can you see how that black is making you look
really tired and enhancing your dark circles under your eyes?
Unidentified Woman: But it's making me look slimmer.
Ms. WOODALL: It's not making you look slimmer. It's making you look like
you've got jaundice, actually.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: You know, the cut is what makes you look slimmer.
Ms. WOODALL: Oh, my God.
Unidentified Woman: What?
Ms. WOODALL: We're out in public. You're in a supermarket. You look like
you're wearing a sack. Shame on you, woman!
Unidentified Woman: But that's comfortable sack.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: But if you only had comfortable clothes that were
flattering for you, you'd never go to that kind of shoddiness.
GROSS: The goal of these makeovers isn't to turn the woman into a Vogue
magazine cover. I asked Susannah Constantine what their goal is.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: It's really important for us to look at a woman's lifestyle
as well as the way she looks physically, so we take into account whether she's
got children, what kind of job she has, where she wants to go, whether she
wants to get the man, whether she wants to get the divorce, whether she wants
to get the job. And then we look at her figure, and we make her understand
what she loves and hates about her body, and we explain that, you know, she
doesn't need to go on a diet, she doesn't need to have surgery, she doesn't
need to exercise. She can make a huge difference by wearing the right clothes
today, here and now. And, you know, the whole point is kind of like an
emotional journey. It's very entertaining, the show, but the whole point is
for her to feel better about herself at the end of the experience, and that's
what we want, and that's what we really get the pleasure from doing.
GROSS: You know what I was wondering? If a lot of, like, husbands who have
no clue about how to dress and have, you know, awful haircuts and really old
eyeglass frames, are complaining to you about how their wives look, you know?
Ms. CONSTANTINE: It's not real--I mean, more often than not, it's a kind of
really good girlfriend or a female family member that's nominated them. And
sometimes it is the husband, but generally when it's the husband, if he is a
kind of spotty little nerd, he is nominating his wife through love because he
feels that she really needs a break. We have had, you know, a few
disillusioned men who have nominated their partners because they think that
they do need to look better, but really, in actual fact, they're the ones who
should be looking at themselves at the end of the day, and that's quite
evident in the show. It's like by the end of the show, you know, the woman
has moved on to such a level that this poor bloke has been left behind.
And we had one instance where a really sweet couple--and husband nominated the
wife, along with his sisters, the ugly sisters, who should have been on our
show. And by the end of it, Maria looked so wonderful, and Matthew, the
husband, was left behind. And he felt really gutted that his wife had now
become this sort of glamorous icon in his eyes. And she then nominated him
for the show, and we made him over, and by the end of that they were level
pegging, and it was a very happy ending to the story.
GROSS: You're afraid they would have gotten divorced had you not done the
makeover for him afterwards?
Ms. WOODALL: No, I just think--it was very charming with him, as a man,
because we all know, you know, as women, we can discuss issues of how we feel
about our bodies quite openly. And I think men--it's more taboo. And this
man was quite a large man. And I remember he said this comment to Susannah.
He said, `I feel like, you know, the big, fat man at the back of the pub.' And
he was quite emotional and expressive. So it was amazing to, you know, dress
him so that he felt that he'd lost like, you know, 50 pounds, and he felt
handsome. He felt sexually attractive--all the things that had just gone from
GROSS: People show you their wardrobes before you make them over, and there
are some pretty horrible garments in the wardrobes of the women that you
choose. After all, that's why you chose them in the first place. And you
throw the things that you don't like from their closets into a big trash can.
Sometimes you basically throw the whole closet in there and you keep like one
item that you think is passable. Do you actually like give the clothes back
to the woman afterwards or do you like cart it off to...
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Those clothes are gone for good, pretty much.
GROSS: They're really in the Dumpster for good, huh?
Ms. CONSTANTINE: No, they really are. They're gone for good and, you know,
that is the kind of greatest hurdle to get over for a woman, because, you
know, there's a lot of emotional attachment to some of these clothes, you
know, these items of clothing. It might be, you know, the dress that they
wore on their first date or, you know, the cardigan they wrapped their new
puppy in when it arrived. But by the end of the process, they're actually
very willing to get rid of their clothes.
GROSS: But, gee, shouldn't they be hanging on to those things for sentimental
Ms. WOODALL: No. Why? What's so good about the sentimentality of that?
You've got nothing.
GROSS: Well, it's like having a photograph or something, you know. It's the
Ms. WOODALL: I mean, some people do have items and what they do is they end
up framing them or hanging them on the wall, which is quite amusing. But what
they can do--we started to make three piles. We make the pile to give to
friends that you shopped with who, you know, those clothes suited them a lot
better than they ever suited you. Then we have a sort of resale pile where
they can, you know, get some money back and sell them in a secondhand store.
And then we have the kind of too disgusting to even give to anyone pile, and
those do go in the trash.
GROSS: You know, here's the problem I run into when I clean out my closet. I
look at that big, ugly, but warm sweater, and I say to myself, `I could get
rid of this because it's kind of too ugly to wear, but if there's war or
famine, I'll really want the warmth of this sweater and I won't care that it's
ugly.' I mean, it's...
Ms. CONSTANTINE: That is so extreme.
GROSS: Isn't it?
Ms. CONSTANTINE: You must have the gas mask. You must have the bunker,
GROSS: No, I have none of that. I have nothing. I have nothing.
Ms. WOODALL: I don't believe that.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: I do. I'll tell you what...
GROSS: I just have this incredible guilt about getting rid of clothes.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Yeah, but, you know, someone else out there less fortunate
than you maybe could really benefit from those clothes, so maybe give it to
charity and then you know that some...
GROSS: That is what I do. That is what I do when I do do it.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Well, that's the way to go, and then someone else who
doesn't even have a roof over their head will benefit from your warm jersey.
Ms. WOODALL: Yeah.
GROSS: They'll have the good clothes if there's a war.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Yeah.
Ms. WOODALL: Yeah, exactly.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: You'll freeze!
GROSS: That's right.
Ms. WOODALL: Yeah.
GROSS: What are some of the biggest offenders that you typically trash, the
offenders that show up in the most closets?
Ms. WOODALL: I think the universal offender is the pleated, tapered,
chino-type trouser, which is very high-waisted.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Are you wearing those now, Terry?
GROSS: I am not, no.
Ms. WOODALL: Good girl. And they are something that, you know, offends
every woman's shape. So if you have a flabby tummy and you have that kind of
pleated, high-waisted trouser, your stomach will just begin to resemble a
waterbed. And if you have hips and you have these trousers, then all you look
at when you see a woman's shape who has bigger hips is the width of her hips,
because the trousers are tapered at the bottom towards the ankle that it
distorts your leg. If you have a big butt, high-waisted trousers, especially
sans pockets at the back, will just make your bottom so huge that people will
just be staggered by it.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: A lovely lady engineer, who we can see through the window
giggling, is looking at her own pair of trousers...
Ms. WOODALL: Yeah.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: ...and I think she's going to take them off in a minute and
put them in the trash can.
GROSS: So what are some of the other typical offenders that you find in
Ms. WOODALL: Well, something that is actually stronger in America than in
England, the same thing in a short. And you have much better weather here.
But, you know, walking down the streets of New York in the last few days, we
have seen many women who could be, you know, 16 or could be 60 and they were
shorts, chino shorts. And they're like a men's short, you know, and they're
kind of wider than they are long, with probably double the amount of pleats.
And that is just the most unflattering thing for a woman.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: It's so unfeminine. There's nothing appealing about those
shorts, and there are so many alternatives out there. Why not just wear a
skirt? A skirt is much cooler. You don't get a sweaty gusset. You know,
it's like let the air get up in between your legs. You know, it's much cooler
to wear a skirt. Women are very fortunate. In men, it's harder, so men--you
know, for men, shorts are a good alternative. As long as they don't have the
pleats at the front and they're more like a Bermuda short, they can get away
with it. But for women...
Ms. WOODALL: Susannah, Terry's been very quiet. I'm wondering if she's got
some of them...
Ms. CONSTANTINE: She's wearing...
GROSS: No, no.
Ms. WOODALL: Terry...
GROSS: I'll tell you what I was thinking, though.
Ms. WOODALL: Yeah.
GROSS: Here's what I'm thinking. I'm one of the people who like never wears
skirts. I always feel like...
Ms. WOODALL: What's wrong with your legs?
GROSS: It's not even a question of hiding my legs. It's that I feel like I
walk differently, and I sit differently, and then somehow, I don't feel me in
Ms. WOODALL: So are you scared of being feminine?
GROSS: I wouldn't say I'm scared of being feminine, but I think I just tend
to wear more, you know, like shirts and jackets and pants and...
Ms. WOODALL: So you feel more comfortable to be androgynous?
GROSS: I don't think it's quite androgynous, but...
Ms. WOODALL: Do you wear dresses?
GROSS: No, no.
Ms. WOODALL: OK.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: We need to get our hands on you, Terry. That's the bottom
line. We need any of Terry's friends who are listening to this show, when we
come out to America, please nominate her, because it sounds like we need to
get our hands on her.
GROSS: No, but why should I have to wear a skirt or a dress or look, quote,
Ms. WOODALL: Well, unless you have legs like mine, which Susannah says boots
were invented for because my calves and ankles are so thick, I think that--and
also, can I ask you, Terry, how tall are you?
GROSS: I'm really short.
Ms. WOODALL: OK.
GROSS: I'm about five feet.
Ms. WOODALL: Another little point with that is that when you are shorter, if
you wear a neat skirt, you look taller than if you wear trousers sometimes, as
long as you keep...
GROSS: What do you mean by a neat skirt? Do you mean...
Ms. WOODALL: I don't mean like a huge A-line rah-rah skirt...
Ms. WOODALL: ...OK, which would just wear you, because I think the shorter
one is, you have to be quite neat with your clothes. But if you always wear
trousers and if you wore a neat little jacket nipped in quite--you know,
showing off your figure, that might be OK, but I somehow think that's not the
kind of jacket you wear. I do feel it's more of a men's shaped blazer that
you might wear. Tell me if I'm wrong there.
GROSS: I don't now. What do the people in the control room think?
Ms. WOODALL: Well...
GROSS: They say wrong.
Ms. WOODALL: And we're just, you know...
GROSS: They say you're wrong about the jacket.
Ms. WOODALL: OK. So they do say you wear nipped and feminine jackets, do
they? No, I don't think so. Come on. Come on. OK. But basically, if you
wore a little skirt and a sort of fitted top and you show your legs off, by
showing more legs and arms, it will make you taller.
Ms. WOODALL: Just trust me. I mean, it's really worth a try.
GROSS: But I know...
Ms. CONSTANTINE: And also...
GROSS: Wait a minute. I know you'd also suggest that I wear heels, which I
really can't do that.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: No.
Ms. WOODALL: No.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Not at all. As soon as a smaller person starts wearing a
very high heel, she looks like a small person who wants to be taller, OK.
It's much better to have the confidence to wear, you know, a little low kitten
heel if you want to be more elegant or flat shoes. You know, you are what you
are and you should be proud of that. You know, small things are perfectly
formed, and, you know, for lots of reasons, you're very lucky to be small.
But, you know, it's also a question of wearing--I'll bet your suits, you know,
are probably quite dark and then you wear a bright colored shirt underneath to
cheer it up. Yeah?
GROSS: OK. I think you got my MO. Yeah.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: OK. So, you know, it's much better to wear one color and
have all the colors emerging into each other, because then that, again, will
elongate your height. You don't need to wear high heels to look taller.
There are all sorts of different tricks.
GROSS: My guests are Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, hosts of the
BBC show "What Not to Wear" and author of the book of the same name. More
after a break. This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guests are Trinny Woodall and Susannah
Constantine. They're the hosts of the BBC show "What Not to Wear." It's a
makeover show and it's also shown on BBC America. There's a version of that,
an American version that's now on The Learning Channel. And Trinny and
Susannah have a new book called "What Not to Wear."
When you do makeovers of men, what are some of the typical problems you are up
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Exactly the same as women, but I think the most prevalent
one is the beer gut, the big, fat stomach that is winched in with a very tight
belt and then encased in a pair of pleat-fronted trousers, which are also
tapered, or otherwise shorts which are of the same shape, and it's a question
of getting them into flat-fronted trousers with no pleats that are bootleg and
layering their top half to break up the expansive stomach that's there. But
men are exactly the same as women, and some of them even have breasts.
Ms. WOODALL: Yeah. And then you have to do the same principle. They have to
wear a two-button jacket and not a three- or four-button jacket. It's like a
woman wearing a princess collar neckline who's got big breasts, which just
makes up one huge breast, or breaking it down with a deep-V jacket. The same
applies to a man.
GROSS: So if a man has a big belly, is the appropriate place to put the waist
in the middle of that big belly or underneath the big belly.
Ms. WOODALL: It's really to give no sense of where the belly is is the best
solution. Because if you're doing a belt, you're winching underneath, and
then it just pours over. It's like a woman who's got a belly wearing too
tight a jeans. You see it anyway. And if you do it too high, it's like the
woman wearing the pleated trousers which are very high-waisted. So in a way,
you wear a trouser that fits smoothly, probably just under the belly, and then
over it is, as Susannah was saying, that layering where you might have a
T-shirt and then a jumper over, and you show neatly a bit of the T-shirt. So
you just break up and you deceive your eye as to where that belly is actually
GROSS: Now do you think that people often get stuck on the look that they
wore when they were in their teens, the look that was popular when they were
Ms. WOODALL: I think where people get stuck is the look in the decade they
felt happiest, OK. And I think a huge era of that is sort of the '60s woman,
and you see her today and she still has long, flowing hair. She might wear
the sort of makeup she wore then, but unfortunately, a few more wrinkles have
appeared. The garments might be quite flowing, but now she's got a bit of a
belly, and she should be trying to show off some kind of figure. So you
really find that, and when we go through, you know, a woman from 30 to 60,
you'll find that decade and we sort of pinpoint it, we say, `That's when you
felt happiest.' And in the last series, we had a woman, Sandy, and she had
really had a moment in the early '80s, and she hadn't left that moment. And,
you know, she could hardly walk through the door with the widths of her
shoulder pads. So it's kind of readdressing and saying, you know, the decade
we want to feel happiest in is the one we're living in today, if that's
GROSS: How did you start the show? You already knew each other and you were
Ms. WOODALL: We knew each other and we started a newspaper column in the
Daily Telegraph for seven years, talking honestly about fashion and what was
available. And then we did some satellite television for about three or four
years where we did about 200 shows, a budget of $500 a show; viewers, seven.
And then we had an Internet company. We had another book. And then we were
approached by the BBC to do this show about three years ago, and we're in our
third series, second book, and a few other things in the pipeline.
GROSS: Now why do you think makeover shows are so popular now? Like
makeovers have been popular segments of shows for years, but now there are
whole makeover shows. There's yours. There's the American version of "What
Not to Wear." There's an "Extreme Makeover" show. There's a new show where
gay men make over straight men.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Right.
GROSS: Then there's an "Ambush Makeover" show.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: I think it's that Cinderella moment. You know, every woman
wants to, you know, make herself look better and feel better. And I think,
you know, as far as the viewer is concerned, they want to see that journey,
and they want to see someone else transformed. But I do believe very strongly
that what we do is very different than the majority of makeover shows. And
it's like our show isn't, strictly speaking, a makeover show. It's more about
a kind of lifestyle change as much as it is about clothes, like we were saying
And, you know, we don't put them in expensive designer clothing that they
could never afford thereafter. We don't put them in styles that maybe don't
suit their lifestyle, like a beautiful velvet coat when they've got a newborn
baby that's going to vomit down the back of it. We really consider their
lifestyle. And we give them a set of rules and information that will last
them a lifetime. It's not just a moment for television. This is a moment
that will last the woman a lifetime, and it happens to be very entertaining to
watch and interesting because it's an emotional and psychological and
cathartic process for the contributor concerned.
GROSS: Do you ever wish that you didn't care about how you look and you
didn't really care about your clothes in the way that some of the women who
you do on your show don't really care about how they look or don't really care
that much about clothes?
Ms. WOODALL: I think every woman cares about the way she looks, and she might
not admit it or she might be in denial or she might think there are more
important things in her life. I think there are very, very few women out
there who have the confidence in themselves not to care about the way they
GROSS: OK. So are you going to go shopping while you're in New York?
Ms. CONSTANTINE: If we have time. We haven't really had time.
Ms. WOODALL: Yeah.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: We'd love to. But also, it's like, you know, now we've kind
of saturated our wardrobe with things we can wear throughout our pregnancy and
I think we're just going to rest easy and put our feet up now and just live
with our stomachs for the next couple of months or so.
Ms. WOODALL: That's Susanna speaking for herself. I, on the other hand,
love shopping, every opportunity. In between every interview, Terry, I'm in
Henri Bendel's or down at Zarro, or I just will never stop love shopping, I'm
GROSS: Well, congratulations to you both.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Thank you so much.
Ms. WOODALL: Thank you.
GROSS: And thank you so much for talking with us.
Ms. WOODALL: Well, it's been really great to talk to you, Terry.
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Yeah, really fantastic. Thank you.
Ms. WOODALL: And we have to do you, Terry. We have to come down--where are
you in Washington?
Ms. CONSTANTINE: Philadelphia.
Ms. WOODALL: Philadelphia. We have to come down to Philadelphia on our next
trip and I think we need to have a little day out.
GROSS: Well, I'd enjoy it.
Ms. WOODALL: You say with trepidation. Yeah.
GROSS: Well, thank you again. Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine are
the hosts of the BBC's "What Not to Wear," which is also on BBC America.
Their book of the same name has just been published in paperback.
Coming up, Ken Tucker reviews a new CD by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This is FRESH
(Soundbite of music)
YEAH YEAH YEAHS: (Singing) Yeah!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs' debut CD "Fever to Tell" worth the wait
TERRY GROSS, host:
For the past year or so, the most eagerly awaited release among New York
City's so-called rock revival bands has been the first full-length album from
the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a trio formed less than three years ago and led by singer
Karen O. Ken Tucker says the wait was worth it.
(Soundbite of "Rich")
KAREN O: (Singing) I'm rich like ...(unintelligible) rich, rich, rich. I'll
take you out, boy! So stuck up. Oh, it's just sticking to me.
(Unintelligible). Whoa! Hey!
KEN TUCKER reporting:
Karen O, the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, gets her best effects from
letting her voice make sounds that don't necessarily cohere as words. On the
lead-off cut of "Fever to Tell," the band's debut album, a song called "Rich,"
she yells the opposite of what you'd expect from a young musician who dresses
in what looks like scraps she found in a Dumpster. `I'm rich, she says. I'll
take you out, boy.' But it's that keening exhortation at the end of the verse,
followed by her explosive `Hey!' that lets you in on the line's true meaning.
Money or not, this is one woman who's going to be in control of any
relationship she's in.
(Soundbite of "Man")
KAREN O: (Singing) I gotta man who makes me want to kill, I gotta man who
makes me want to kill, I gotta man who makes me want to, I gotta man who makes
me want to kill ...(unintelligible). I gotta man who makes me want to die, I
gotta man who makes me want to die, I gotta man who makes me want, I gotta man
who makes me want to die. We're all gonna burn in hell. I said we're all
gonna burn in hell, 'cause we do what we gotta do real well and we've got the
(unintelligible). I said we've got the ...(unintelligible). Hey! Come on!
Hurt me now! Uh! Uh! Hey! Oh! Hey! Oh!
TURNER: Not that she doesn't have her problems with the men. On that cut,
"Man," Karen O--her last name by the way is just the letter O--and her
bandmates, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase, construct a kind of
punk blues. Underneath that, Karen O can emote about having a man who, in one
line, makes her want to kill and in the next want to die. The most thrilling
thing about this is the way she manages to sound constantly as though she's
about to explode the music that's built up around her, as in this ticking time
bomb of a song.
(Soundbite of music)
KAREN O: (Singing) You make me, you make me, you make me, tick, tick, tick,
tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Time, you take it. You look so good. You take
your time. Ti-ti-ti-time. You take it. ...(Unintelligible) look.
Ti-ti-ti-time. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick,
tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Time, you take it. Time, you take it.
Ha! Ha! Hey, hey! All right! Oh! You make me, you make me, you make me,
you make want to ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-mmm. You make me want to ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-mm.
You make me want to...
TURNER: Most of the time, Karen O sounds like her own woman. There are other
times, though, when you can glean her influences, such as the rhythm and vocal
cadence of The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, in a song like "Black Tongue."
(Soundbite of "Black Tongue")
KAREN O: (Singing) You can keep your black tongue, well, I found at the
mortuary. You know I don't want some, want some. We're high in the back room
(unintelligible) just let it be, yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh,
uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh...
TURNER: Unlike similarly grouped bands like The Strokes or The White Stripes,
the Yeah Yeah Yeahs don't so much create melodic hooks as atmospheres for
Karen O to move around in or react against. She's like someone walking into a
party who starts spilling beer on people's heads just to make an initial
impression. She can sing about being needy and alone, even if she so
obviously revels in the camaraderie of the other two Yeahs in the Yeah Yeah
Yeahs. Their name is more than an affirmation. It's a statement of
principle: Get out of her way. Here she comes, a tattered, but sharp
gunslinger, and she's got her boys backing her like a posse out for revenge.
GROSS: Ken Tucker is critic at large for Entertainment Weekly. He reviewed
the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' new CD "Fever to Tell."
GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
(Soundbite of music)
KAREN O: (Singing) I got a day without a night wrapped around my fingers.
Gonna catch (unintelligible) Gonna walk on water. Fighting the good fight.
We'll swim in the winter. ...(Unintelligible).
Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha cha-cha-cha-cha! Don't tell me the
bridge burned. Don't tell me the bridge burned. Well, just say don't bite.
Don't hang no pictures. (Unintelligible) my sight dropping right on the
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