Fashion

Catching Up With: Amy

posted: 07/09/13
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I absolutely loved my hair when Ted was finished. After so many years of trying to find something that looked good but always fell short, I was floored when I saw the finished style.
Amy Ernst Driscoll/DCL
Related Links:Season 3, Episode 21: Amy

Amy (Ernst) Driscoll, Season 3

At 28, Amy was a successful Boston attorney who dressed like an unsuccessful bike messenger. Alternating between tiny skirts and oversized sweatshirts, Amy wasn't living up to her potential. But after surviving a dangerous thyroid condition, Amy realized she needed to make a change. That was more than six years ago...

How has the show impacted your life?

When I was "ambushed" by Stacy and Clinton, I was finishing a year of getting the crap kicked out of me by my own body. I had had a near fatal Pulmonary Embolus about 7 months prior to the filming of the secret footage. In diagnosing that, there was an "incidental" finding of nodules on my thyroid that turned out to be cancer. By the end of 2004, I had had surgery and radiation and I was scared to death. I was tired and getting out of bed was an accomplishment every day. Actually putting on makeup or coordinating an outfit was definitely not in the cards. I stopped going out with my friends. I sat at home and watched TV all the time. I wore the same black pants at least 4 days a week. Yoga pants got worn out on the left side from the way I lay on the couch.

Meg, my best friend, decided that I needed to get the fun back in my life. I had tons of friends and used to have a great social life. Meg and I both loved to watch "What Not To Wear" (WNTW) and critique the poor contributors. Meg, wrote in to the show and to this day I have no idea what she wrote but it sure did its job: a few months later I was being whisked, all limp hair and black pants, to NYC with stern instructions from my friends and family to snap out of it and use this experience as a diving board back into life.

Stacy & Clinton were amazing. Though I was an avid fan and had watched women shaped like me get dressed by them, to experience it with them, to listen to them and the sincerity in their voices as they explained to me that I was beautiful was surreal. They dressed and undressed me, picked and prodded and made me feel like I was a queen. Carmindy even made a point of showing me how to cover the scar on my neck, of which I was very self-conscious.

When I came back to Boston it was to a huge party full of family and friends who loved me and loved this new glow and confidence that they had never seen before. I used to poo-poo those people that would get all sappy at the end of a show. I mean come on, it's just some clothes and a little make-up right? No way! It was so much more. It was a gift that no one else could give me at a time when I really needed a present.

I had so much confidence when I got back--in myself and in how I looked--that I let my friends convince me to join Match.com. I met a great guy a few weeks after I got home from the show. On our third date I remember coming back from the restroom and he had a sort of shell-shocked look on his face. Thinking I had some toilet paper stuck somewhere I looked around frantically and asked him what was wrong. He replied that he was pretty sure he had just seen me on a commercial on the five TVs that were over the bar...hahaha...Fast forward two years and I had married that shell-shocked guy and had a beautiful baby girl. Did the show do that? No, I did. Why? Because Stacy and Clinton gave me the tools to embrace the confidence within me and go out and get what I wanted and what I deserved!

What was the best style tip Stacy and Clinton gave you?

I used to wear either very short skirts or tight leggings on my bottom and very oversized tops to try and cover up my body (which I describe as a "bowling ball on stilts"). Stacy and Clinton made me see (over and over and over again) that by wearing oversized clothes on the biggest part of me, I looked even bigger than I was. It took a lot of convincing but they showed me that by wearing more fitted tops and structured jackets with C-shaped seams, I was going to actually look slimmer. I sometimes catch myself heading toward those big tops and then I hear their little voices in my head telling me to "Move away from the muumuus!"

What's one surprising thing you learned on the show--either about yourself, fashion and style, or Stacy and Clinton?

Though I learned a lot about myself, and even more about fashion and style, the one thing that really surprised me was how down to earth Stacy and Clinton were and how much they really seemed to care about me! When you meet Stacy and Clinton you don't get fake, plastic TV creations. You get real people, with real life experiences helping you to be a better you. They were so kind and willing to share their experience and knowledge to help me realize my potential. And it wasn't all on camera. Stacy spent hours and hours with me in a dressing room at Bloomingdale's trying on outfits until the store closed. There were no cameras--just her taking time to help me. Clinton and Stacy were amazing and my preconceived notions about them were just whisked right out the door. I got the real deal from these two--and they were fabulous!

What was your favorite part about appearing on the show? Most challenging?

I loved the whole experience. I loved being the center of attention (most who know me would say that was not so shocking). I loved sparring with Stacy and Clinton--on and off camera. I loved feeling like, for once in my life, this was about me and only me and these people all wanted to make something special happen. So I guess you could say my favorite part was the magic of WNTW. From the shock and terror and excitement of the ambush and feeling like it had to be happening in a dream. To meeting the crew and Stacy, Clinton, Carmindy and Nick and enjoying everything they do to make the magic happen. It sounds so corny but it really is an unbelievable feeling. How often do we, as adults, ever get a chance to do just for ourselves? To forget everyone and everything else--our family, friends, jobs and responsibilities for a whole week, and just focus on being the best you? It rarely, if ever, happens. So when it does happen to you, it has to be magic!

I found the most challenging part of the experience to be giving up what I had believed was the "right" way for 31 years. Despite the excitement of being on the show, there was still a part of me that thought, "I am not that bad." It was really hard to look at that secret footage, listen to the critique, and realize everything I had been doing was really not working for me. I may have thought I had some issues but to come to terms with the fact I really needed a complete overhaul was kind of hard to swallow. It took me a few days to really accept that Stacy and Clinton were right and to trust that. I was still going to have my own unique style. I was still going to stand out, it was just going to be for the right reasons.

If you could send one message to Stacy and Clinton, what would it be?

It would probably be what every other past contributor would say to them: THANK YOU! Thank you for taking the time and the energy and for caring enough to make a difference. Stacy and Clinton will never truly know just how much they brought me up after I had been so low. They came in and gave me hope and inspiration at a time that I really needed it, but they gave me so much more than clothes and makeup. I have carried their gift with me through the years -- sometimes I forget and I go back and open it up and remind myself of the things they have taught me.

This is not just a show about fashion or dressing the "right" way. WNTW is about inspiring people to be the best possible version of themselves. The show allowed Stacy and Clinton to come into people's homes and bring a message that said, "You are worth it! Take the time to care!" They did it in such a unique, funny and quirky way that millions of people listened--every week, over and over again.

To have been a part of that message--is an honor. A new pair of shoes really does make the day better! It is with great sadness that I will say-good bye to my TV friends on WNTW, but I am so proud of them and cannot wait to watch and embrace their successes in the future!

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