Catching Up With: Jennifer S

posted: 07/09/13
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I was very fortunate to meet another wonderful man and I remarried in November 2010. I loved picking out my wedding dress and I even helped my husband with his clothes. Given the fact that I am 12 years older than my husband Woody, it meant a lot to feel so confident and beautiful. I have more recent pictures but figured this was the most interesting.
DCL/Jennifer Sherwood

Jennifer Sherwood, Season 7

As the director of the Turtle Bay Music School in New York City, Jennifer tended to dress less professionally than she should have, so friends nominated her in the hopes of giving her a more polished and refined look. Being on What Not To Wear was life-changing, but it was what happened after the cameras stopped rolling that truly momentous. Read on to find out how Stacy, Clinton and the lessons of WNTW helped Jennifer through one of the hardest periods of her life.

How has appearing on the show impacted your life?

I loved being on the show and had a great time. But the unanticipated benefit was having video footage of my husband Scott. In November 2008, about 6 weeks after we shot the episode, my husband was diagnosed with a recurrence of non-hodgkins lymphoma. We went through chemo, an autologous stem cell transplant, radiation and experimental treatments, but died in August 2009. The episode aired while we were in hospital and many people recognized us from the show. Nurses who had never seen my husband healthy were genuinely moved by the episode.

While we were in hospital, I would get up each morning and apply my makeup and dress carefully (using the rules as best I could in the situation). It was tough because I was living in the hospital with my husband. But it made him happy to see me keeping up with all the style tips. It was important to him that I take care of myself even though everything was spiraling out of control. After he died, I literally hung on each day by focusing on putting myself together. It may sound shallow to think about how you look when you're grieving. But it really was the only thing that I could use to make sure that I kept going. I would get up and go through my outfits in the morning. I'd think about what I wanted to wear, apply makeup the way Carmindy had shown me and walk out my door. I shopped for new clothes because I had lost so much weight in the hospital that the clothes from the show no longer fit. It gave me focus during a time when it hurt to think. For my husband's memorial concert (Scott was a professional jazz musician) I put together an outfit that I felt really proud of wearing. Taking things day by day and thinking about how I wanted to look each morning when I left my apartment helped to save my sanity.

What's the best style tip Stacy and Clinton gave you?

The best tip I received was to make sure that my clothes fit me. I learned what my true size was and how to dress my body. Although I'm tall, I have very narrow shoulders in comparison to my hips. I learned to accentuate my waist and add focus to my shoulders so that my figured is balanced.

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

I learned that I really love shoes. Because I had a hang up about being tall I never bothered much with shoes. I would wear the same pair of sandals all summer and one pair of boots all winter. Sometimes I would wear sneakers. But I gained the confidence to start looking at shoes with heels and to think about what would work with an outfit. I bought fabulous heels that put me well over 6 feet and have worn them proudly.

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

My favorite part of being on the show was the people. Everybody I worked with made me feel incredibly welcome and like an integral part of the show. It was really fun to see all of the behind the scenes work that goes on and the way that everyone collaborated to pull it off. The hours were long but the energy was great. I loved trying on clothes, the quick changes, the access to stores, the camaraderie. The most challenging part for me was being away from my husband. Although he was just uptown I hated not going home to him at night. I really wanted to slip out of the hotel room and find him. But we abided by the rules and it was fantastic to be with him again when I got to the reveal.

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

In all honesty, I was the most touched by my interactions with Stacy and Clinton after the show. They were kind, engaged and treated me with compassion and humanity. They both seemed genuinely moved by Scott's death. Sharing the experience of the show with them was special. But I never expected to have much impact on them (or even have them remember who I was) given how many people flow through their lives, both from the show and their other endeavors. But they looked me in the eye and connected with me like a friend. And that is a true gift that not many people possess. I wish them nothing but the best as they move forward in their lives and careers.

Edited by Julie Gerstein

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