Monday, March 1, 2010

'How Do I Look?' Host, Anti-Spandex Crusader: Jeannie Mai

SINCE TAKING OVER longtime Style Network makeover show "How Do I Look?" (Sat., 8 p.m.) last year, Jeannie Mai has been on a mission to rescue the country's biggest fashion victims. The show has just returned with a new batch of closet overhaul candidates, from a woman who will only wear purple to a former exotic dancer who refuses to ditch her stripper heels.

» EXPRESS: Original host Finola Hughes launched the show in 2004. How did you feel about inheriting it?
» MAI: I basically grew up with the show. My style — and my experience as a stylist — blossomed as I watched it. To me, it's a cult classic. When I was offered the job, I was very excited, but also a little worried about stepping into Finola Hughes' stilettos.

» EXPRESS: Is it hard telling people they need a major makeover?
» MAI: I try to play the role of a nice dentist who will tell you everything you're about to do before you do it. I'll hold your hand through the tough parts.

» EXPRESS: But that still doesn't always mean they want to hear it.
» MAI: On this new season, we have a lot of tough characters who don't think they need makeovers. Their attitude is, "You suck, your style sucks and you can suck it." Sometimes I do worry that I'm going to get my butt kicked.

» EXPRESS: That sounds intense.
» MAI: There were a few times when I had to stop the cameras and just take a break. It's like being in a boxing ring when you just need a moment to get some water and catch your breath.

» EXPRESS: You introduced the "Eww Tube," a big suction pipe that whisks away the ugliest items.
» MAI: I think I'm going to have to patent it and start selling it next to the Snuggie. It's something that everyone in America needs — a way to rip bad clothes right out of your hands and take them out of reach forever.

» EXPRESS: Has there ever been a terrible Eww Tube disaster?
» MAI: It's a little scary when it's sucking up something like huge, thick corduroy overalls or an enormous muumuu. I'm worried they're going to get stuck and break it!

» EXPRESS: If you could get people to stop wearing one thing, what would it be?
» MAI: I'm sure Obama's very busy with important things, but I'd really like to talk to him about outlawing spandex -- or really, any body-hugging, super-tight, shiny material. At the very least, all spandex should come with a disclaimer attached about when it can be worn.

» EXPRESS: Any other key fashion advice?
» MAI: Use statement pieces like a centerpiece. If you were decorating your dining table for a guest, you'd place flowers in the middle and then put things around it that complement it. The same goes for a bright top. Pair it with neutral pants and maybe just a touch of color on your heels or lips.

Photo courtesy Style Network


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