Mayim Bialik Learns What Not to Wear
Actress Mayim Bialik is back to work after the birth of her second son — she’s recently appeared on Bones and Saving Grace — and has found herself in need of a “mommy makeover.” Help comes in the form of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, in the season premiere of makeover show What Not to Wear, which begins its new season on May 29th.
We chatted with the former Blossom star — mom to Miles, 3 ½, and Fred, 9 months — about the makeover experience as well as motherhood to her two boys in our two-part interview.
Celebrity Baby Blog: How did the What Not to Wear people approach you?
Mayim Bialik: They snuck up on me on the street in New York. I hadn’t really seen the show, so actually I wouldn’t have known them were they not coming up to me and surprising me in the middle of the street. I didn’t know who they were! They basically said, “We’re from What Not to Wear and you need a makeover!” Clinton said he’s been watching me in the years since Blossom ended definitely thinking that I needed a makeover.
Were you offended?
It’s no secret that my sense of style has taken a backseat to the rest of my life, so I wasn’t terribly shocked. And I do have quirky taste. A lot of stuff I wear I’ve had since high school. I like army boots, I like peasant skirts – sometimes together! So I do know that I have odd taste. And I used to be able to put more time and effort into what I wore, especially before I had kids. With a 3 1⁄2-year-old and 9-month-old I haven’t been putting much effort in and didn’t know what size I was – weight goes up and down with kids. So obviously I’ve been wearing things that are way too big for me.
How would you describe your old style, and how would you describe your new style?
The style that I used to like was eclectic, a lot of vintage stuff, a lot of army stuff in random combinations. I like bold colors but usually wear black. But the reason I was chosen for the makeover is that I wear a lot of clothes way too big for me, a lot of long flowy skirts.
What they described me as is frumpy, dumpy, and clearly don’t put myself as a priority, which I think a lot of moms can absolutely identify with. It’s true – I don’t put myself first, I put my kids first.
The way that they redid me, is that they helped me. I don’t know much about what’s trendy, I don’t know much about fashion. They taught me about what to emphasize about my body, they gave me some easy ways to look good when I’m just hanging out – which is most of what I do – and they tried to work within my specific tastes, which is not colors, not patterns and not ruffles. I don’t wear leathers, either.
They really accommodated all the things about me that are so quirky fashion-wise, and gave me sleek. They kept saying sleek, sophisticated, modern and not frumpy. That’s what they were going for.
I know nursing can be an issue with clothing style and undergarments. Did they address that?
For me, I’m always in a nursing tank or a nursing bra. I have a 9-month-old who nurses about every two hours, so I always need to be in nursing wear. That was a concern of mine – I didn’t want them to give me all these gorgeous clothes that the second I nurse would either fall apart or not work. I didn’t want any dresses I couldn’t nurse in. They were really able to accommodate that. Obviously I have nursing bras I like. I don’t wear underwire, because I’m a person that’s susceptible to plugged ducts, but I did get some nice underwire bras for when I go on auditions or when I don’t need to be nursing that I can wear for short periods of time.
My general preference is to be in whatever is easy and convenient for nursing, and pretty much all the causal tops they got me I can wear a tank and a regular bra with it and make it a nursing ensemble. I don’t nurse covered up with tents or blankets – that’s just my preference – so I want stuff that doesn’t show off my midriff while nursing. They really worked within all of that, and that was really comforting.
Are you still wearing the clothes and styling the hair and makeup?
Yes. It’s been about a month, and the makeup surprised me the most. I really don’t wear makeup, but [WNtW makeup artist] Carmindy gave me the 5-minute things to do, and I have to say I’ve done it pretty consistently. For meetings or auditions I dress it up a little more.
But today, I took the baby to the pediatrician and actually did my 5-minute makeup. And not because I’m having an affair with the pediatrician! But the hair has been really easy. I told Nick when he did it, “On any given day, you’ll be lucky if my hair is washed, much less has product in it.” But it even looks good when it doesn’t have product in it. He gave me a good cut – about four or five inches shorter than I was walking around with before, and a few shades darker.
We’re in the middle of allergy season here, so those are the only days I resisted putting on makeup because my eyes get so bad. But I’m really happy with the stuff they gave me – the makeup is environmentally-friendly – and the makeup really surprised me. It’s Carmindy‘s brand she does for Sally Hansen. The packaging is clear with a black bottom and brownish top. I’ve fallen in love with this lip-gloss she gave me, and I do liquid liner and I’d never done pencil before, but it’s perfect. It really takes me less than 5 minutes to do it! I’m not a brand-name spokesperson type, but I’m legitimately pleased with what they did! It was hard, and very emotional, but turned out great.
What does your husband think?
He’s really happy with it. He loves me no matter what, but he appreciates when I put effort in to looking good. He likes the hair, which they dyed darker, and when I go to meetings or auditions, he tells me I look good.
I’m not used to wearing heels – I’m standing around with a 22-pound child strapped to me most days, so heels are out of the question – but I got cute flats and shoes I can wear on auditions when I’m not carrying the baby. They’re totally reasonable.
What kind of reception are you getting at auditions?
Auditions are hard. You should see what most of the women look like when I audition for things – they look like they should be on the catwalk. But when I see friends who have known me since I was a kid, they notice. I went to a birthday party the other day for a friend’s 2-year-old and other friends I’ve known since junior high, they all said, “Wow you look great!” in all caps, practically! They asked if I lost weight, and I said, “No I’m just wearing clothing that show off my body better, and What Not to Wear got me.” They were freaking out!
Basically everyone said I looked spectacular, and I was just in a T-shirt, a denim skirt, dressy flip-flops and a couple necklaces and my makeup. It wasn’t a big deal. But it looks that good to wear clothes that flatter your body. I want to emphasize that it’s not about being skinny – I’m not just another skinny celebrity, and it wasn’t my interest to have them make me look sexy. I think everyone’s body is beautiful however they’re comfortable with it, and I think that’s the point. But sometimes we’re unhappy with our bodies even if we’re the size we were before we had kids because nothing is in the same place it was.
But they really taught me to emphasize the best parts of body and show off what I’m comfortable showing off. I’m a pretty modest dresser. I don’t wear pants, or like them; I’m a Jewish woman who’s made the decision to wear skirts, so I wear mostly skirts past the knee. I don’t like to go sleeveless – they had me in a sleeveless dress as one of the outfits on What Not to Wear, and I said on air, “I’m really not comfortable showing this much skin.” So it’s really just a preference. They were willing to be flexible – if they showed me a mannequin wearing pants, they said I could also swap them for a skirt.
I had an audition for Saving Grace as a Hasidic Jew, and had one long skirt still hanging in the closet that didn’t make it to the show, and I wore the long skirt and booked the part! I just filmed it last week. I emailed Stacy and Clinton and said, “Ha ha, you made me over so I could play a Hasidic woman!”
Do you miss your old clothes, or are you happy with the new stuff?
Both. I’m happy with the new stuff, but having not seen the show I didn’t realize there is such a psychological component. We get comfortable with our things, even if they don’t look good, they’re comfortable for a lot of reasons. I do miss parts of my wardrobe, and even with my rules for shopping, I wasn’t allowed to buy things I’ve done poorly with in the past. I’ve done peasant tops poorly, so I wasn’t allowed to buy any, even if they were hip.
They made me throw out my Doc Martens, but when we went to the vegan shoe store in Manhattan they had vegan Doc Martens, so I may have to indulge! My policy used to be that I didn’t like to wear shoes that looked like leather, even if they weren’t, but I let that go, because my feeling is if they aren’t leather, then it’s OK for them to look leather. I gave them so many limitations with my rules on bold colors, pants, frills, so I figured I’d wear vegan shoes that look like leather.
Was the experience fun for you? Was it draining?
It was exhausting and draining! I didn’t know there was this emotional component of, “What are you hiding? Why are you wearing clothing two and three sizes too big?” It’s also very hectic in that week. You have two days of shopping to spend all that money, and I’m really, really frugal. That’s just me. So it was hard to spend all that money. I also take a long time to make decisions when I go shopping, and you don’t have that kind of luxury in this experience.
Are you confident that when you need new clothes you’ll be able to do it by yourself?
I think definitely for spring and summer I’ve got down what I’m supposed to do. Stacy said I can email her privately if I need help in the fall and winter. For me, I’m used to dark, long, heavy wool even though I live in Southern California, so I may need a little spruce-up.
Come back next week for Part 2 of our interview with Mayim!