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Stitching a New Business

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Retail and fashion executives are familiar with Clinton Kelly. He and his partner-in-exposing-fashion-crimes Stacy London have carved a niche advising women on dressing their best on TLC’s “What Not to Wear.”

Now comes word that Kelly is about to launch a new career: retailer. Later this month he plans to open a chain of retail stores called Perfect Fit by Clinton Kelly. The stores, billed as “a new concept in tailoring,” will open in Minneapolis and Chicago, and offer tailoring, alterations, consultations and fashion advice.

Kelly, a former fashion magazine editor who has spent the last nine seasons as the co- host of “What Not to Wear,” is no stranger to the business. He sells a casual wear collection through QVC, is a Macy’s spokesman and recently launched Clinton Kelly’s StyleRx, an app that helps women pick out clothes for their body type. His most recent book, Oh No She Didn’t, is a follow up to Freakin’ Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate and Generally Be Better Than Everyone Else. He’s also one of the hosts of “The Chew,” ABC's new food show.

As anyone who has followed his career can attest to, Kelly has always been an arbiter of fit. At least once in each “What Not to Wear” episode, he encourages makeover candidates to buy clothes they love and then tailor them to fit their specific shape. “Great clothing begins with the right fit and you can’t expect clothes to always fit perfectly off the rack,” says Kelly. “Anybody who has great style typically also has a great tailor.”

Tailoring is often perceived as a luxury; upscale retailers are typically the only stores that provide the service, and it can come with a hefty price tag. If Kelly succeeds in making tailoring more affordable for the average shopper and more comfortable than ducking into a tiny closet at a local tailor shop, he may be on to something.