Ariana's Makeover

Ariana shares the four major lessons she learned from Tim and Gretta.

You know when you go on a really amazing vacation, and you have so many incredible moments in a short period of time that it's hard to remember them all when people ask, "So how was it?" That is how my Tim Gunn experience felt. I've always wished I had a video record of some of my favorite memories (that's why I have all of those ridiculous videos from my senior year at BC!) so that I could come back to those moments any time and remember them exactly as they were. The funny thing about capturing every moment on camera though is that you can't forget anything! Luckily for me, the editing gods took some pity on me and certain moments that I hoped wouldn't be aired were left to litter the cutting room floor. But in the spirit of not taking myself too seriously, I'd like to share some embarrassing moments, lessons learned and just some fun behind the scenes stuff.

Lesson 1: Bra shopping on national TV is as terrifying as you think

After day one of shooting the producers told me we'd go lingerie shopping the next day. For some reason I imagined myself peeking out from behind a curtain saying, "This one's great!" or "I doooon't think so." Instead I found myself getting a pep talk in a dressing room in jeans and a bra about how it was just like wearing a bathing suit. In the producers' defense it really isn't a big deal (something I realize now), but at the time I was terrified. I remember saying, "I wouldn't wear a bathing suit on national TV!" So I went out the first time in my own bra and waited for the fallout. This is the part where most people would say, "and it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be..." but that's not what happened. I went back into the dressing room and felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. Here I was in front of a crew of mostly men in my bra. Add to that the knowledge that everyone in my past and present would be seeing me in my bra on national TV. It probably wasn't until the third bra that I let myself remember that this was Tim Gunn's show and Tim is nothing if not classy. So I relaxed a little bit and just went with it, and it ended up not being as bad as I thought it would be. Luckily they cut the scene with the flower petal nipple covers and semi-transparent bra (thank you Bravo editors), and at the end of the day I looked like me. What was best about the experience was how it made me open up and be more comfortable with myself. But I can't escape the thought that too many people I know have DVR or TiVo to make this a moment I'll be able to quickly forget.

Lesson 2: If you're not a supermodel, don't try to walk like one.

When I was asked to select which couture dress I wanted, I had trouble deciding. Part of me wanted to go for a more modest, traditional style so that I could wear it more often, while another part said break out of your shell and pick something fun! In the end, when the producers saw which one I picked, I don't think they really believed it. I was so proud of myself for picking something that you aren't going to find on a rack somewhere (although I did see some celebrity wearing it in a magazine, which was pretty cool). So when I put it on right before walking the runway for Tim, Gretta, my friends and family, I told a producer that I wanted to "do the dress justice." So I planned on not smiling and doing my best supermodel/runway walk. The tough thing about pretending to be a runway pro when you never wear heels suck at it. So I walk out, no smiling, doing my best Heidi impression (sorry I had to go there.) A few steps into the walk, I feel my heel slip, and while I avoid actually falling, I do fall out of my shoe. At that point there's still a pretty big distance between the finish line (read: Tim and Gretta) and me. So I do a sort of semi-limp, kind of like when you try on heels and only have one on but walk to a mirror to get a better look (I hope I'm not the only one who does this.) Thanks once again to the magic of editing and a second take on my walk, you never saw it.

Lesson 3: Don't ever say "I lost my bra" on national TV.

I guess every bad part I hoped would be cut wasn't going to be, and this line is proof. Yes, I have gone swimming in the Meyer Circle fountain after a fun night out in Brookside, but it's always in my clothes! To be totally honest, I have no idea what happened to my strapless. I did have this one roommate in college who would mysteriously show up after a summer break with certain articles of my clothing that had "somehow ended up in her bag" (you know you are) - maybe she has it. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of time for personal asides and those that create a little mystery are kept. So all I will say is that I now have a strapless and for those who know me, they understand that me losing something, even a bra, is not the most farfetched thing to imagine.

Lesson 4: Always, Always, Always trust Tim and Gretta.

I had never seen an episode of this show when I signed up to do it, so I had no idea what to expect. While this made things more exciting, it also required me to really trust everyone on the production team including Tim and Gretta. I knew they wanted me to look my best, feel great and take some lessons with me, but I could never have imagined how warm they were going to be as people. It was with a bit of reluctance that I talked about having to keep old clothing because of a lack of money growing up. I didn't want to be that sob story girl - so I sort of refused to talk about it. Gretta pushed me to open up, and once I did, she shared her own experience, which was similar to my own. It never felt like the big violin soundtrack movie moment, and I think it was the first time in the process I remember not noticing the cameras and just feeling like I was having a conversation with a close friend. I don't know if he's just a flatterer, but I don't think there was a better moment than when Tim said, "Ariana, you're breathtaking." You always imagine someone saying that to you, but you never think it's going to be someone who has such a trained eye. Throughout the week, anytime I made a self-deprecating comment, Tim was right there to remind me of the assets I have that I shouldn't ignore. I'm not perfect, and of course some of my insecure areas aren't fun to focus on, but Tim was all about focusing on the parts of yourself that are great and maximizing them. So at the end of the day, I learned a lot. I truly have a totally different perspective on shopping. I spend more on fewer quality items, and in turn I have a confidence in myself that was definitely missing when I hid behind the tattered old clothes from my past. Sometimes I still feel like it never really happened because it was so indescribably fun, emotional, informative and exciting. Then I hear a preview on TV with Tim's voice saying he needs a tetanus shot before entering my closet and it all comes back again.

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Ask Gretta: Jeans and Little Black Dresses

Our style savvy source Gretta Monahan answers your fashion inquiries!

My question deals with the "little black dress." I know it's considered a must have for many occasions. However, I HATE the way I look in black. Is it possible for a "little black dress" to be another color besides black? -Erin

Hi Erin,
The point of a LBD is that the color is neutral and therefore can be worn over and over again, to different functions, in different ways, even among the same crowd of people. Black is basic and so it doesn't stick out and, generally, looks good on everyone. I can understand how some women feel black is too harsh for them, though I do encourage you to seek a second opinion, only because the perfect LBD is timeless and irreplaceable in terms of versatility. That said, I think you could substitute, with the same flattering effect, any darker color that you feel works on you. Navy, forest green, chocolate brown, and dark plum are all good options to try. I do think that color stands out in people's minds, though, so it just won't be as easy to pass that dress off season after season.

What's the best way to find a local, trustworthy tailor? I need my own Gretta, but I don't want to give my dear clothes to just anyone with a needle! -Krysta

Hi Krysta,
If you live in a bigger city, you can start by looking on a website like CitySearch that rates businesses based on public opinion. Otherwise, the best advertising out there is word of mouth, so talk to your co-workers and neighborhood friends to see who they use and recommend. I agree, I wouldn't risk it on walking into an unknown shop, but everyone's had to use a tailor at one point or another, so you're bound to get some good leads. If worst comes to worst, you can always start small and build confidence in the tailor you choose; bring a few less expensive pieces and see if he or she meets your standards with the simple fixes before you, say, have your wedding dress altered.
Good Luck!

I'm willing to splurge on a new pair of jeans. What do you think are the hottest, must-have jeans on the market right now? Thanks! -Jessica

Hey Jessica,
I wouldn't say they're the trendiest of trendy, but since they arrived on the premium denim market, I've been a huge fan of J Brand. I think their simple back pockets are classy and timeless and the cut of their styles is spot-on for a variety of different body types. There's always the new "it" label, but J Brand is the kind of line that will be around for a long time to come, and certainly, all of your favorite celebs have been rocking them. I love their "Lovestory" bell bottom jean in a crisp, dark wash. I also love their skinnies, which they make in a bunch of different styles — I'd recommend the mid-rise cigarette leg, but, that totally depends on your body type, so, girl, hit those fitting rooms!
Have Fun! -Gretta

Hi Gretta,
I recently started watching the show and I love you and Tim. I am 5'8, 120 lbs and I have a 24 inch waist. My biggest problem is finding great pants that have length as well as fit. If I buy the pants for the length, the fit at the waist is baggy and vice versa. Do you have any suggestions? -Nichola

Thank you! We certainly have a lot of fun together, doing the show, and I'm glad you viewers have been so receptive to us! Sounds like you have a rockin' figure, so, you absolutely should not be sizing up, just to get extra length, only to look dowdy in pants that are too big! It might require buying online for better selection, but most of the major specialty stores are providing long lengths in pants and jeans — Express, Gap and J.Crew to name a few. A "long" length is typically a 34" inseam which, if you're 5'8", should be perfect. A 24-inch waist is probably a size zero, long, and if you're into "designer denim" then you would probably wear a size 24 (this sizing scale is based on waist size). I think pant fit is very important and I've always been able to justify spending a little more in this category and skimping on tops, only because it really does make such a difference when jeans or trousers fit you like a glove; it elevates the whole look. Hope this helps!
XOXO - Gretta

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