TLC’s reality television series “What Not to Wear” aired its final show on Oct. 19. Gina Jensen, Webster University assistant director of forensics and debate, was invited to take part in the show filmed in Las Vegas.
This was not the first time Jensen appeared on “What Not to Wear.” She was on the show three years ago. That episode has run every two months since it first aired in March 2010.
“What Not to Wear” ran for 10 years before the finale. The show consists of someone who is invited to New York for one week for a complete makeover — wardrobe, make-up and hair. Former students of Jensen’s, including Deanna Beaton, wrote a lengthy submission to TLC for Jensen to be featured on the show.
Beaton said “What Not to Wear” does not “throw people under the bus,” because of the way they look. She said they nominated Jensen because they wanted to give something back to her.
“In reality, the show is supposed to give people more confidence and it’s something Gina deserves,” Beaton said.
Jensen was one of 200 people invited to Las Vegas for the filming of the season finale. Out of the 200 people, Jensen was one of 30 asked to do a personal interview for the final show. Jensen was at the front of the stage when cast members Stacy London and Clinton Kelly said their final good-byes.
After the filming for the finale concluded, the reception for London and Kelly began.
“ I thought ‘Oh they’ll stay with us for a minute’,” Jensen said. “But they were at the party all night. It was neat.”
When TLC selected Jensen for her first appearance on “What Not to Wear,” Gina’s husband Scott Jensen kept in touch with TLC producers who planned to ambush Gina Jensen on live TV. Scott Jensen also works at Webster University as the professor and director of forensics and debate.
Prior to the ambush, Gina Jensen was invited to KSDK-TV to talk about non-verbal communication on “Show Me St. Louis,” a show that promotes events around the St. Louis area. When Gina Jensen was on the air, she did not know her clothing was contradicting the non-verbal communication she was talking about on TV.
She did not know London and Kelly from “What Not to Wear” were hiding backstage.
Gina Jensen thought the station was having technical difficulties when the cast members yelled “Cut! Cut!” But then London and Kelly came out and grabbed her arm. Gina Jensen said she was in “utter shock.”
“Never in my life did I imagine being on national TV,” she said.
Beaton, along with others involved in the ambush, arrived at KSDK-TV at 8 a.m. to hide in the basement before Gina Jensen arrived.
“We wanted to take care of her a little bit,” Beaton said. “She was not confident in the way she looked.”
Gina Jensen accepted the offer to be on the show and was flown to New York for a week. Gina Jensen said she was excited as soon as she hopped on the plane. She recalled the week before looking at all her clothes and wishing she could shop and get new ones.
“I was thrilled they took my clothes,” Gina Jensen said. “I was thrilled to get new ones. I was really thrilled it was free and they were helping me.”
Gina Jensen shopped for 26 hours her first two days on the show and only purchased one shirt with the $5,000 budget she was provided. She said she had a difficult time deciding what clothing was normal, and London and Kelly rejected a lot of her selections.
“It was really hard for me to look at something and say ‘Oh! That looks stylish,’ because I always just liked what I liked,” Gina Jensen said.
After her third day in New York, Jensen finally picked out some clothes that she liked and that also satisfied both London and Kelly. She spent the rest of the week getting her hair and make-up redone.
Gina Jensen returned to St. Louis and revealed the new Gina Jensen to her family and friends. Scott Jensen, and Beaton were shocked by her transformation.
“She looked like a little sex kitten,” Beaton said.
Gina Jensen said the revealing was one of the best moments of the entire experience.
“It was nice to be looked at as a stylish person and for all of them to be that excited,” Gina Jensen said.
Gina Jensen still has occasional doubts over what she wants to wear and what is deemed stylish, she said. Before she purchases clothes, she asks her friends if they think the clothes are stylish. One of the hardest adjustments Gina Jensen made from the show was to accept certain styles that may look good on other people, but not on her.
“I figured if it looks good on you, it looks good on me,” Gina Jensen said.
Gina Jensen learned during her trip to New York that she could still be stylish as she gets older. She recalls not worrying about her style when she was 38-years-old, but she said her goal moving forward is to keep her style current. At the season finale she was amazed to see the number of lives the show changed. She compared her experience on “What Not to Wear” to alcoholism.
“It’s not that I’m cured,” Gina Jensen said. “It’s just I’m working hard to stay away from the bad habits.”
Gina Jensen has been watching the show since her makeover.
“Every time I see Stacy and Clint on anything, I’m just like ‘Okay, I’m ready for my next bit of information,’” Gina Jensen said.