What Not to Wear

TV review by
Brenda Kienan, Common Sense Media
What Not to Wear TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
Wisecracking fashionistas say everyone can look good.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 32 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The positive "anyone can be beautiful" message suffers from the show's sarcastic humor and the negativity implied in the title. That said, by the end, most participants seem very happy with their transformation and receive lots of love and support from Stacy, Clinton, and their family and friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The hosts can be sarcastic and critical, but they push the idea that anyone -- regardless of size, age, profession -- can look good. They never criticize someone's body or physical appearance beyond their clothing choices.


Occasional mild innuendo; references to breasts (as "the girls") in a fashion context.


Infrequent language ("damn," "hell").


Specific stores and product names are often mentioned and shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this show's core positive message (anyone can look great) can help mitigate the pressure to look like an airbrushed supermodel that young girls face daily. But during most of each episode, the subject experiences sarcasm and mild ridicule. The fashion experts can sound a bit mean sometimes when doling out fashion critiques, though they're also good at building up subjects' confidence by the end.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLove555 February 5, 2020

The lady on the show with the black hair should not try changing others when she always just looks the same always !

I don’t think anyone should be listening to the lady on this show she always appears to look the same fir past 4 years that I have watched the show off and on i... Continue reading
Adult Written byMcKathlin August 31, 2012

Talk about respect and budget sense

This show is fun to watch for the transformations from funny-looking to fantastic. I enjoy and fully endorse the message that people of all body types can look... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byLemon Zest June 10, 2020


This sends a terrible message to kids. I’ll admit, I’ve only seen one episode featuring a girl who wore lolita (Don’t worry, nothing to do with the book, just t... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byvictoria19 June 26, 2013

Why Such Harsh Reviews?

So, I noticed a lot of these reviews said this show is "mean" "degrading" and that this show is telling people to spend too much money on cl... Continue reading

What's the story?

WHAT NOT TO WEAR has a simple, ultimately admirable message: No matter your shape, your size, or whatever physical liabilities or hang-ups you have, you can be beautiful. For dramatic effect, the show starts with an ambush. Friends and family of someone in need of fashion advice nominate her (or sometimes him) for a makeover. The subject is secretly filmed until -- surprise! -- fashion experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly show up and announce they're giving her a $5,000 wardrobe and the benefit of their advice. In New York, the subject learns that said advice is wisecracking and mild ridicule, and a set of fashion rules. She's sent shopping and makes mistakes, prompting wisecracks from Stacy and Clinton, who eventually arrive on the scene to help her choose flattering clothes. After expert hairstyling by Nick Arrojo and a grooming and makeup lesson from Carmindy, the subject looks fantastic -- without plastic surgery, weight loss, or anything at all drastic.

Is it any good?

The beauty of What Not to Wear is that even though the subject is initially mocked, she learns that she doesn't have to change any part of her core self in order to pep up her image. And when the subject shows off her changed image to Stacy, Clinton, and her friends and family, she's as delighted as everyone else at her transformation.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of beauty and whether we all need to look like models. What assets do the people who appear on this show have -- including their talents, personalities, and apparent character? Is that attractive? How do they react to change?

  • How do you think these people's "new looks" will affect their futures? Does it matter? Should it matter? What kinds of messages do makeover shows send in general? And why do you think most of the subjects are women? Do men have less pressure to change their public image?

TV details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate