The participant is nominated by their friends and relatives for being particularly unfashionable. The show then secretly follows and videotapes the nominated participant for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, the fashion experts review the secret footage and prepare to surprise the.
On the first day of the participant's visit to the studios, there is a review of the secret footage along with the participant. On the videotape, there are normally comments from family members and friends about the participant's style and appearance. The experts then go through their entire wardrobe, which has been brought with the participant. They critique the items and then most of the clothing gets discarded or even cut up with scissors. The participant is asked to put on an outfit, that they like and think most suits their figure, and then must face the 360 degree mirror. The experts comment honestly on why the outfit does not suit them, often being brutally honest. The experts give suggestions throughout the day and then present three different outfits to the participant to help illustrate the rules that they will need to follow as they shop for better clothing.
The participant is then given two days to shop for suitable clothing at a suitable and selected location. On the first day, they are left to their own devices, to test how much they have learnt about which clothes are suitable and comply with the rules. On the second day, the experts ambush the nominee and comment on whether the previous day's purchases complied with the correct guide lines as to which clothes to buy. The second day, the fashion gurus sit in a café and watch live video footage of the participant shopping and comment on whether the participant is following the rules given. If the participant is struggling, they rush to the scene to help. The experts then accompany the participant around the shops, providing advice and assistance, often being critical.
After all the shopping, hair stylists and makeup artists work on the nominee's hair and makeup respectively. After the makeover, the participant reveals themselves to the experts and are brought to a full-length mirror to see their transformed state. The participant models three outfits for the experts, often showing confidence and poise. The participant departs and soon after, reveals themselves with their transformed appearance to their friends and family. Some time after the participant's makeover, the fashion gurus would pay them a surprise visit, in order to establish whether they have adhered to the rules for their clothing.
In later series, the format changed. It saw the hosts receiving hundreds of videos from certain groups of people that have nominated themselves for a makeover, instead of other people nominating them. There were select groups such as women facing menopause or those who have lost partners. They would then have to watch and then choose five people from these videos, as to who they thought were in need of the help the most. The five selected candidates were then invited to the studios where they would be interviewed on why they thought they needed a makeover à la ''What Not to Wear''. Then two candidates were selected and offered a ''What Not to Wear'' makeover. The series also saw the hosts spending a day as the two participants, where they would drive their cars, work in their jobs and live in their homes. There, they would make the participant's husbands a meal, meet their other close family and venture into the participants wardrobe to dispose of any unsuitable clothing. The rest of the episode would sustain the format seen in previous series.
Adapted from the Wikipedia article What Not to Wear (UK TV series), under the G. N. U. Free Documentation License. Please also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki