Kelly was born in Panama City, Panama, of Irish and Italian ancestry, and raised in Port Jefferson Station, Long Island, New York. He graduated from Comsewogue High School in 1987. He attended Boston College and graduated with a degree in communications in 1991; he was president of Boston College's University Chorale. After college, he attained his master's degree in journalism, specializing in magazine publishing, from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 1993.
Before joining What Not to Wear as co-host, Kelly hosted a program on Q2 (part of QVC) and worked as a freelance writer and editor at several publications in New York. Kelly was an editor at Marie Claire and a deputy editor at Mademoiselle, where he contributed under the pseudonym "Joe L'Amour". He later became the executive editor of the Daily News Record, a New York-based weekly men's fashion and retail trade magazine.
Clinton Kelly is an American fashion consultant and media personality best known for his role as co-host on What Not to Wear. He shares on-air duties with Stacy London. Kelly started his career as a freelance writer for several fashion magazines. Although he still continues to write, he has since expanded into fashion consulting and designing. Kelly joined the cast of ABC's daytime cooking show The Chew. In 2009, he married Damon Bayles and they currently live in Connecticut.
While Kelly was at Daily News Record, the producers at TLC's What Not to Wear decided to recast the original male lead (Wayne Scot Lukas) and approached Kelly. After three auditions, Kelly was chosen as the new co-host, alongside Stacy London. He has described their relationship as "a brother and sister in the backseat of a car on a long car trip".
Kelly is openly gay, but in comparing What Not to Wear with the show Queer Eye'—which pioneered gay men making over people seen as needing fashion advice—the Washington Blade noted some key differences: "[U]nless you have your gaydar on while watching the show, you would have no idea. There's nothing 'gay' about the show and he doesn't really talk about it on air. Viewers trust Kelly's expertise based on the strength of his choices rather than on the 'he's gay and he should know' fashion theory."
In 2008 Kelly served as a guest consultant on the TLC reality series, Miss America: Countdown to the Crown. He assisted Mario Lopez during the live pageant telecast. Kelly became a co-host of the ABC daytime show The Chew in 2011.
In September 2005 Kelly and Stacy London co-wrote a book titled Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body. In 2008 Kelly wrote Freakin' Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally be Better than Everyone Else. In 2010 he wrote Oh No She Didn't, telling the do's and don'ts of women's fashion.
In addition to his books and hosting duties on What Not to Wear, Kelly writes a weekly style column for "RedEye" in The Chicago Tribune. He is also a national spokesman for Macy's and has a clothing line through QVC called Kelly by Clinton Kelly. In July 2008, his Extended Tab 5 Trousers sold out in seven seconds.
Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget by Clinton Kelly
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books (October 15, 2013)
Amazon: Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget
Amazon Kindle: Freakin' Fabulous on a Budget
You’ve seen him dish out lifestyle tips on ABC’s The Chew and serve up fashion advice on TLC’s What Not to Wear. Now Clinton Kelly—America’s favorite expert on, well, everything—applies his brilliant sense of style and humor to all aspects of life, from dining and entertaining to decorating and etiquette. And he does it all without spending a fortune!
In this ingenious new collection of must haves, whatnots, and need-to-knows, Clinton Kelly proves that it doesn’t take a lot of money to look like a million bucks. In fact, you can dress, entertain, and decorate in a way that makes everyone think you’re filthy rich!
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